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Subject: Goldeneye 007 (Nintendo 64)
(Written December 1998)

Let's be honest: when it comes to the Nintendo 64, many gamers have been disappointed. The in-stone promise of "Jurassic Park" visuals, perfect CD sound and quality titles have been replaced with foggy mist, uninspiring noise and... well... Aerofighters Assault. Arcade-to-home translations are also a letdown (cough, cough, KILLER INSTINCT, cough) and quality 3rd party support is nil. Sure, Mario 64 is godly but you can't ride off one title forever.

With all these negatives in mind, let's not forget what Nintendo DOES have. They have Rare on their side. As previous developers of games like Battletoads, DK Country, and Killer Instinct (arcade version), Rare has flexed their programming muscle on many a platform. And, today, on the N64, Rare has crafted a game which has made the gaming community step back and remember the days when Nintendo did it best. The game: Goldeneye 007.

It's not like this game just showed up one day though. It saw a number of delays (which put its release on par with the movie sequel) and the limited space in the cartridge gave Rare many development hurdles. But somehow, Rare has bestowed all software-starved N64 owners with a title they can enjoy for months to come.

The 1P game follows the storyline of the movie very closely right down to the actual level layouts. You are given 23 missions (and 2 secret ones) to complete ranging from the Dam to the Cradle. The missions themselves are wonderfully put together and are full of lots of bloodthirsty soldiers waiting to stop you from reaching Trevelyan. The enemies are well placed and the level designs are absolutely brilliant. Lack of firepower is not an issue either as weapons such as the AR-33, Grenade Launcher and the RCP 90 are at your disposal to mow down the enemies.

However, the best part of the 1P game doesn't lie solely in beating the game; rather, it lies in unlocking the secret cheats for each level. Depending on what difficulty you select and how fast you finish a level, you will acquire secret programmer's cheats such as unlimited ammo and invincibility. Getting these cheats are incredibly difficult, and will have you up 'til the wee hours, surrounded by empty containers of your favorite beverage, trying to shave mere seconds off your best time.

Goldeneye 007's value doesn't just end on the 1P game though. The 4P multiplayer game is one of the greatest ever, even rivaling Bomberman (Saturn) and Mario Kart 64. Playing this game (loosely known as "Bond" among the multiplayer circles) with three of your buddies can be some of the best gaming fun you've ever had, complete with plenty of insults and jokes flying around. It's actually worth shelling out the dough for the extra controllers just to party-it-up with this title.

In the graphics area, Goldeneye is competent with rock solid, but sparse backgrounds. The textures themselves are quite good but very repetitive. Frame rate problems also exist (especially in multiplayer) but it's nothing that you can't adjust to. The sound is also some of the N64's better work, perfectly fitting the mood of being a smooth, sneaky spy agent. Sound effects are crisp as well, with great bass that can be noticed on a high-end system.

Minus the frame rate issues, the control is what brings this game together. A great interface and gun-target cursor make this a premium choice for Nintendo's analog stick and Z-trigger button. Selecting guns is a snap and the reload / aiming features are a welcome option as well.

It's hard to believe that a Doom-style game could be done so well, let alone a game based on a movie. But Goldeneye 007 does it all so well and its success has created a "Bond" culture among gamers and become a vast gold mine for Nintendo. Rare's done it again... do these guys ever rest? Well maybe after the sequel... Perfect Dark..
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