Why I like Goldeneye (and the veil of nostalgia)

Hello gang, today I’d like to talk about my experience with goldeneye and why it’s one of my favorite games of all time.

Goldeneye is an old and outright janky shooter that when played on the n64 controls weird and gets really laggy. However…I found out a way to play it with mouse and keyboard at 60 fps and it’s such an incredible experience. In fact, it was so incredible that I almost felt like I was playing a mod of half-life.

goldeneye’s source material is based off of a well known movie and book franchise – call of duty.

But why DO I like goldeneye? What is it that makes this golden boy game so good to me? As a whole with nostalgia aside it’s pretty mediocre, there aren’t really any new mechanics or engaging gameplay features that are added to keep it interesting. The enemies are pretty much the same and the guns are honestly pretty stale in variety. With that out of the way, I will say that the funnest aspect for me would have to be the level design and the enemy AI.

Level design

Most of the level design in golden guy is really good, like it starts of linear, but opens up *just* enough to let you at least explore a bit and shoot stuff and find equipment. (Although I would say some other shooters like half life or doom do it better because there are more actual pickup types to obtain)

Enemy AI

Now the enemy AI, is a fine example of good shooter AI. Unlike most shooters of today, they actually animate a startup and recover animation to their attacks. basically, the enemy will see you and bring his gun up, THEN start the random hit scan shooting, THEN they start to put their gun down.

(“Hit Scan” is a special type of “bullet” in video games where they instantly reach the point of contact when shot, meaning there’s no travel time. Usually this is balanced out in games with bullet scatter randomness and other features.)

tldr:

  1. Start Aiming their gun at you
  2. Shoot
  3. Put the weapon down to then repeat the process.

or rather the better version is

  1. start aiming their gun at you
  2. ???
  3. Profit

This is SO good, because you have time to react and it’s completely fair if you get shot since they are telegraphing their movements. As derpy as the enemies can be in golden boy, this design is honestly something I wish more shooters would go back to and stop doing the cheap instant shooting RNG hitscan nonsense.

(Of course goldeneye enemies sometimes also do cheap/questionable things though like that one animation where they’re walking and shooting their gun towards you and somehow have an absurdly large ammo clip during that attack.)

Another thing to point out is that frankly the enemies in goldeneye are pretty stale, in terms of depth and variety. I think what barely keeps this game going is the fact that there are so many different animations for when enemies get hit that it’s compelling enough.

Basically…if you’re in development crunch time, just have one basic enemy with a lot of different animations and uh…I suppose it’s enough?

Random thing to point out, in my opinion death animations of shooters like modern warfare 2 feel better to me because they have a quicker “pop” to them and instantly respond to your shot vs goldeneye having to startup it’s animation. (not really a problem but I find the pop feels better in games like mw2)

The weapons

The guns, the guns are okay, though there is a weird delay for some guns and honestly, the pistols of modern shooters like Cod4 feel so much better than goldeneye. But that aside, the hit impact sound and fx feel good enough and work well for making the gunshots feel responsive in goldeneye.

Objectives

Probably the aspect that is least interesting to me are the objectives, especially the ones related to escorting/protecting AI or having to trial and error my way to get the goldengun, etc.. I think objectives in games are a tricky aspect to keep compelling, the best example I’ve seen for objectives would have to be Starcraft 2’s campaign levels. they do an excellent job of providing a base line goal to complete, but also provide side challenges that motivate you to accomplish more to get better rewards. I feel that if I played goldeneye now the objectives probably would have frustrated me and I wouldn’t have felt as compelled by them vs when I was younger and was way more graceful/patient with games.

The only reason I might sometimes have the bias to say “oh yeah the objectives feature in goldeneye were awesome” is because I already know how to do them.

Conclusion/Final Verdict/Final Destination

Now it is one of my favorite games of all time yes, but the veil of nostalgia only lasts for so long with this golden guy.

I feel the fun starts to drop off though once bunker 2 ends. For me statue and the latter start to lose momentum and there are no new mechanics, no new things to do, and it mostly relies on showing a new gun that shoots just slightly different in hopes that it still feels fresh (or some objective, but as you could probably tell the objectives didn’t really compel me that much). Most of the levels in the later half feel redundant and lack that brilliant flow that some of the earlier levels have. Of course to each their own, I do still enjoy some later levels like depot, archives and caverns, it’s just that some missions like streets/statue just feel kind of repetitive and don’t have as much of a clever layout to them IMO.

The length that the game is feels appropriate. I honestly can’t imagine it going for longer than what is already there. Most guns that are introduced aren’t really that special, like the ZMG, really it’s just a Klobb, but it shoots faster?…and does more damage…ehhh….

I feel that if shooters of today are going to make guns, please make them different instead of just “gun x” shoots faster but does less damage that “gun y”. There’s a reason I feel why arena shooters like doom and quake have much more compelling variety to them.

All in all, I still like goldeneye, it’s still one of my all time favorite video games, and I’m still willing to criticize it. I know there’s the argument of “well at the time it was revolutionary/ground breaking”, But I still can’t help but compare how some mechanics/features are funner and worse in old games compared to modern ones.

Maybe I should compare this to perfect dark one day, after all perfect dark is the spiritual successor, but why didn’t it click for me?…hmmm maybe next week I’ll write on that.

Thanks for reading,

-Brandon

p.s. Enjoy watching this clip of bond never running out of bullets

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