'GoldenEye 007' May Still Be One of the Best Games Ever Made—Here's Why

It’s all about the gameplay

  • GoldenEye 007 is coming to Xbox and Nintendo Switch. 
  • The Switch will run the original game, the Xbox will be a recreation. 
  • Graphics date fast, but great gameplay is always great.
Goldeneye 007 header image

Microsoft / Rare

Classic 1990s-era first-person shooter GoldenEye 007 is coming back on the Nintendo Switch and Xbox.

These will actually be two different versions. The Switch version will be the original game, running via the Switch's virtual N64 console. The Xbox version will be a "faithful recreation" in 4K and may end up looking better. Either way, this is a true classic, and while game design has moved on, there's still no substitute for fun and great design. Or is there? Perhaps GoldenEye 007 is just a ghost built on nostalgia, and it won't hold up today. 

"Growing up, GoldenEye 007 legitimately was THE game that you physically gathered your friends to come play in person," long-time GoldenEye fan and PR strategist Ken Ozeki told Lifewire via email. "For modern players, definitely better graphics might make a difference (as well as playable characters from the Daniel Craig era of Bond movies)—and maybe more flexible and realistic body movement for the characters as well. Those Russian soldiers on the train definitely moved kinda funny in N64 graphics."

GoldenEra

GoldenEye 007 was a first-person shooting game launched in 1997 for the Nintendo 64. It had a few unique selling points. One was its use of the N64's analog control stick, which allowed unprecedented control over aiming your weapons and let you do it while on the run. You could also instantly zoom in when using a gun with a scope. These are bread and butter features in today's first-person shooters, but at the time, they were new and exciting. 

"GoldenEye was an instant classic when it was released in 1997," Oberon Copeland, tech writer, owner, and CEO of the Very Informed website, told Lifewire via email. "A big part of its appeal was its innovative gameplay, which deviated from the traditional run-and-gun style of most first-person shooters at the time. Instead, GoldenEye encouraged players to take a more strategic approach, using stealth and utilizing cover to complete objectives."

The other killer feature was the split-screen multiplayer mode. You could not only play against a friend but also sneak peeks at each other's POV to either lay traps or escape them.

The game also had a decent storyline and pretty good graphics for the time but with poor non-player-character AI. The real pull was the multiplayer game. 

"The one flaw of the game is the enemies are really stupid," writer and still an avid GoldenEye player R. M. S. Thornton, told Lifewire via email.

Modern Updates

The test of a classic game is whether or not it is still fun to play, despite the technological advances since it was new. The SNES Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Kart are still every bit as good as when they were made. Super Mario 64 more than holds up in terms of visuals and gameplay, and once you get used to the graphics of Super Mario Kart, it's still compelling (and a lot harder than today's games).

But what about GoldenEye 007? After all, its standout features are now standard, and everything else, from graphics to enemy intelligence, has improved. 

"I think the game still works today. The issue is that first-person shooters have advanced so much that compared to the new stuff, it does seem rather dated. In other words, it's really the nostalgic value for people who can remember growing up playing it," says Thornton. 

Goldeneye 007 Bond witnessing an explosion

Microsoft / Rare

For Switch owners, it won't be hard to find out. The Switch version will be available on the Switch's N64 virtual console, so if you're already subscribed, it won't cost any more. You'll also get access to online multiplayer, which wasn't a part of the original, as there wasn't really any "online" to speak of back then. 

The one thing GoldenEye 007 definitely still has going for it, though, is the level design. Some of the multiplayer environments were just fantastic. Big enough to offer some variation but limited enough that you'd constantly have to watch your back. The combination of open and confined spaces meant you could strategize based on the kinds of weapons you found, and there were very few corners that spelled doom or meant that the first person to arrive would win. 

And level design doesn't necessarily improve with better graphics, though one hopes the visuals have improved. That's something that could definitely do with a modern touch.

But for everything else, maybe it's better to leave this classic alone.

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