Note: this is a bit of a “what if” review. In 2008, Rare were working on a remastered version of GoldenEye on Xbox 360, and was nearly finished before license negotiations had gone through. This version was leaked earlier this year, so this is based on that build plus a community patch, which fixes some of the issues. I will detail any remaining niggles at the end of the review and this review is essentially based on a potentially finished version.
GoldenEye is a classic game, and was immensely popular on the N64. It set the standards for console first person shooters. Unfortunately, N64 controllers are really difficult to use, especially as first person shooters adapted to dual analogue sticks extremely well.
This is where the Xbox 360 version comes in. It takes the original GoldenEye (unlike the later Wii game which took the rough GoldenEye story and made a completely different game), adds fresh new textures and models. However, the most important aspect is the modern control scheme. With a dual analogue setup, GoldenEye plays beautifully.
Interestingly, the original N64 did have a dual analogue setup, which required the use of two controllers, which may be why it feels so natural in the Xbox version. With more free buttons, you can also rotate through your weapons and gadgets much easier, and if need be you can still fine tune your aim. It still feels exactly like GoldenEye, just better.
If you’re unaware of the structure of GoldenEye, it’s an objective-based shooter. Instead of simply getting to the end of a level (although that’s still a requirement). You’ll have to plant bugs, disable alarms, protect Natalya, collect documents and avoid killing scientists and civilians. The amount of objectives changes based on difficulty, so not only is the combat more challenging, but you’ll have to go to more areas of the level to complete the required objectives. This approach isn’t seen to often these days, so it’s nice to go back to it as it’s still a great format for FPS games.
Each level in the Xbox version of GoldenEye has been remade with new graphics. These keep the same layout as the original game and you can even toggle between modes with a push of a button. They keep the feel of the N64 game pretty perfectly and still seem “chunky”, but they’re also nice to look at. I think they’ve stuck a perfect balance between making GoldenEye look aesthetically pleasing while still keeping it as GoldenEye N64. Everything is running in HD, and there are some additional lighting effects for an extra sparkle. The only main issue I had is that the developers have made Statue a bit too dark, making it difficult to navigate.
The classic multiplayer is also back with the same improvements as the main game. It also includes extra levels such as Dam and Frigate, levels which were too taxing for multiplayer on the N64. It also features new options, including one which makes all characters the same size, so someone can choose Oddjob with no advantages. Online and LAN play is also included, and you can even opt to show everyone’s screen in split-screen while playing online for the authentic original experience.
The Xbox 360 version of GoldenEye takes the amazing original N64 game and spruces it up without altering too much. It makes it more playable alongside current games while keeping the spirit of the original very much intact. This version is great for people who want to relive their memories, or to people who haven’t played GoldenEye before.
Second Note: The few things that still need fixing in this version of XBLA are: The Frigate map. It has no water so is just floating in a void, and the sky textures are a bit low resolution. The Jungle level also has an untextured tree, so is bright purple/blue, and one small thing is that one of the computer designs is using the old textures. Some maps were previously missing skyboxes, but these issues have been fixed with the community patcher. If the Frigate and Jungle levels can be fixed, it will be the ultimate GoldenEye experience.
Even with these issues, the problems don’t impact the experience too much, and the “classic graphics” versions of these maps are still intact. It’s a massive shame that this was never officially released. This would have been an amazing game.
All Rare Replay reviews (Note: this is not part of Rare Replay, but I am including all my Rare reviews here).