Goldeneye (1997) – A rough diamond

By Jose Anguiano – Cinematic Bandicoot

February 13th, 2023

Rare’s “Goldeneye” pioneered first person shooters in 1997 after a lengthy development period so future games like “Half-Life” and “Halo” could build upon its foundation.

Now that its been rereleased on both Nintendo Switch and Xbox consoles for the first time in 25 years, it warrants a revisit.

However, time has taken its toll on this diamond in several ways.

Based on the movie of the same name starring Pierce Brosnan, the story follows James Bond trying to stop a satellite from turning London into a crater.

Though the story takes a backseat to the gameplay, what is kept intact is better than its movie counterpart, even if most of the enjoyment comes from reading text or watching pantomime recreations of some of the most iconic scenes in Bond history.

The intro and outro cutscenes to each mission remind the player of what is at stake, and the Bond license encapsulates an immersion that future titles failed to give players despite having bigger budgets.

Seeing Bond waiting impatiently with elevator music in the background is something one does not expect in a game where bullets and blood litter the screen.

Despite the absence of M, Q and Money Penny, there’s a lot of character interactions with the memos before starting a mission. They’re stern, quippy, and sometimes a needed levity given what will happen if Bond fails the mission.

It also makes one curious about how younger gamers will react to older technology like keycards and oversized computer mainframes given how used society is to touchscreen technology and smaller devices.

The final battle between Bond and Alec Trevelyan is one of the best in both Rare’s catalog and gaming as the fate of the world hangs in the balance of either agent.

While it is not completely loyal to the source, the story is better than a majority of licensed games, past and present, seeing as modern big budget games put less focus on the narrative and more on microtransactions.

Rather than porting the cancelled Xbox Live edition to both consoles – possibly because it is co-owned by Activision – Rare enlisted Code Mystics to remaster the original game, and it has its ups and downs.

On the one hand, the framerate is capped at 30 frames per second and never chugs because of the improved hardware.

On the other hand, the graphics did not age well as the models look like melted wax.

Rare knew that N64 graphics were not the most glamorous which is why a lot of their games got an HD update in future rereleases – “Banjo-Kazooie”, “Banjo-Tooie”, and especially “Perfect Dark”.

To its credit, the environments are diverse, and the soundtrack composed by Graeme Norgate, Robin Beanland and Grant Kirkhope remains one of the best collaborations from the original Rare alumni, as evident by the “Cradle” track:

The percussions bounce from one beat to another as Bond’s theme is worked into different leitmotifs throughout the 18 levels and two bonus stages. Sometimes it’s quiet and calm, other times it’s fast and heart racing.

Despite some graphics not aging well, the majority of the presentation holds up in creating a grand Bond experience.

The gameplay is where everything comes together in making this the definitive 007 video game.

Many gamers remember the multiplayer aspect, but the single player campaign is just as compelling.

With a plethora of guns at your disposal a la “Doom”, this creates the ideal one-person army simulation where you can take out Fort Knox.

While it is easy to classify this as a first-person shooter, the story diversifies the missions like collecting keys, destroying machinery and meeting important characters.

These elements would go on to influence future Bond games like the equally beloved “Everything or Nothing”.

One of the best parts involves shooting enemies while they’re on the toilet.

Now that the framerate does not dip when the action builds in each level, the shootouts are more manageable when a plethora of guards swarm you in a room and you need to hold your ground.

They might seem inept by walking into your line of sight but make no mistake, they are crack shots when tempted.

The way the gameplay influences the story is better than the film by adding more resistance to Bond’s mission even if the soldiers are expendable.

With the advent of the twin stick controls, this improves upon the outdated N64 analog stick that even the developers were wary of, although Switch owners need to manually tweak their controls to said option compared to Xbox players.

The one downside are the escort missions concerning Natalya Simonova.

Given that this was made before checkpoints were common in games, it can be frustrating protecting her while you’re being turned into Swiss cheese.

It adds unnecessary padding when the entire mission goes south, and you have to redo the entire mission.

Perhaps the enemy AI is too smart in how some soldiers appear out of thin air, no matter which difficulty.

It also shows what gamers take for granted these days despite the online discourse when big budget games are released incomplete like “Halo: Infinite”.

That’s right, “Goldeneye” has more value that one of the most iconic shooters in modern gaming does not – local coop, a vast single player campaign, no bugs, and no waiting months for basic features like a scoreboard.

But even after 25 years, the multiplayer remains just as addictive thanks to the unlockable cheat codes and the variety of maps waiting for a second chance to see the light of day.

Just make sure Oddjob remains a benchwarmer and nobody gets banned.

“Goldeneye” is a fantastic rerelease of a classic that, while not perfect, is the best way to experience one of Rare’s defining moments in video game history.

The lack of checkpoints can be frustrating when combined with Natalya’s escort missions, and the models look like something out of “House of Wax”.

But the story recreation, lively soundtrack, smoothed framerate, and fast paced gunplay remain the core elements holding everything together.

If you want to shoot your friends online, it’s best to go with the Nintendo Switch edition. But if you just want the single player campaign, the Xbox version is still a suitable alternative.

For those who choose the latter and want this game for keeps, buy the digital edition of “Rare Replay” because sadly, physical owners have been left out to dry.

While “Perfect Dark” remains the superior game because it got an Xbox Live remaster, Bond has a large enough following to reignite interest in Bond video games.

There’s a reason why people remember this over its film counterpart thanks in part to all the BAFTA awards it won upon release.

As for the 2010 remake by Activision, it has been delisted on all digital storefronts since 2013 because the company lost the license from EON Productions.

Thus, the game will be lost to time unless someone is willing to fork over hundreds of dollars for a physical copy.

Pros: Fast paced gunplay, kick@$$ soundtrack, smoothed framerate, fun extras, addictive multiplayer

Cons: Aged presentation, annoying escort missions, lack of checkpoints


What did you think of “Goldeneye”? What’s your favorite James Bond game? Whatever your thoughts are, comment and discuss with others!

And if you enjoy reading our content, be sure to like, follow, and share with family and friends! This is the Cinematic Bandicoot saying SEE YA NEXT TIME!

Works Cited


ExPuter – Muhammad Nameer Zia – Goldeneye 007 Remaster Won’t Be Free If You Physically Own Rare Replay:,Remaster%20is%20finally%20available%20for%20all%20Xbox%20owners.


Altman, Mark A., Gross, Edward, – Nobody Does it Better: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of James Bond, Ebook ed., Forge Books, 2020


Goldeneye. Directed by Martin Campbell, MGM, 1995.


Delisted Games – Goldeneye Reloaded:,James%20Bond%20007%3A%20Blood%20Stone%2C%20and%20007%20Legends.

YouTube Videos

Digital Foundry – Goldeneye Xbox 360 Unreleased Live Play:

Larry Bundy Jr. – 🕵️ Why GoldenEye ACTUALLY took 26 YEARS to be Re-Released | Fact Hunt Special | Larry Bundy Jr:

Matt McMuscles – 007 Legends – What Happened?:

Goldeneye 007 – What Happened?:

– Marvel’s Avengers – What Happened?:

The Act Man – I’m Done With Halo Infinite:

The Nostalgic Gamer – GoldenEye 007: A Rare Retrospective (Part 4 Remastered) – The Nostalgic Gamer:

Wrestling with Gaming – The Making Of The N64 Classic GoldenEye | A 90s Gaming Masterpiece:


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