GoldenEye 007 launched on Nintendo 64 twenty-five years ago on the 25th August in the US. Rare's movie tie-in is lauded today as a revolutionary title that paved the way for many popular console shooters to follow, like Halo and Call of Duty, so we wanted to try and take a step back and reflect on how critics covered it back in 1997.
Below you'll find snippets from magazine reviews and online publications of the day. We've also supplied a score where one was given. So let's travel back in time and see what people made of GoldenEye before "No Oddjob" was a phrase that players knew anything about.
From our search, it looks like Edge was among the first to sing the game's praises, back in July 1997. It gave the game a 9 out of 10 in issue 48 of the magazine and claimed it further reinforced "Rare's reputation as the strongest independent N64 developer". It also wrote:
“GoldenEye slips the player into James Bond’s hand-stitched leather shoes but fortunately discards with the tedium of those seemingly interminable MI6 lectures. It’s a game sure to leave players shaken and most definitely stirred.”
In August 1997, IGN's Doug Perry was similarly enthusiastic. He gave it a 9.7 out of 10 and wrote the following about the movie tie-in:
“GoldenEye 007 is an intelligently conceived and brilliantly executed diamond of a game, building its spy-style adventure smartly on the foundation of the first-person genre, and unleashing the full power of Nintendo's four-player capabilities.”
Gamespot's Jeff Gerstmann gave it an even higher score (9.8 out of 10) the exact same month and said that the mission objectives and three difficulty levels ensured it had the staying power of Mario 64.
“GoldenEye is the type of game N64 owners have been waiting for since they finished Mario 64. It has outstanding graphics and sound, and contains a certain depth in its gameplay that really entices you to finish it on all three difficulty levels. If more N64 games use this as a model, as opposed to Cruis'n USA or KI Gold, then perhaps the system really does have a shot at toppling the PlayStation's reign as the dominant game platform.”
The next month, in September, Nintendo Power gave it a 9.0 in Issue 100.
“Many of the evaluations feel that GoldenEye is one of the best executed games of all time. If there’s a downside to GoldenEye, and we had to struggle to come up with one, it’s that squeamish players may find death animations are so realistic that they close their eyes and wind up getting shot.”
In GamePro's September issue, GoldenEye 007 received a near-perfect score all around, if not for the controls for the game which take some getting used to. GamePro's Johnny Ballgame wrote:
“Play GoldenEye one time and you’ll be jonesin’ for James harder than Grace Jones on a lonely night. It’s one of the best movie-to-game translations ever, and it’s definitely an early favourite for the game of the year.”
In an October issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, three of the four reviewers gave it a 9.5 out of 10, with Sushi-X concluding:
“Sniping, peeking around corners, and secret levels, weapons, and abilities all make GoldenEye a smash hit, the best N64 title on the market to date.”
Next Generation Magazine gave it 5 stars in Issue 34 October 1997:
"Goldeneye is a surprising killer app, if only for the smashing multiplayer options. The excellent single-player game backing it up makes it well worth buying indeed."
In one of the latest reviews, N64 Magazine in Issue 9, dated December 1997, gave GoldenEye 94% out of a possible 100:
"Goldeneye is quite unlike anything you’ll ever have seen before. The Bond license means it’s absolutely essential if you’ve watched 007’s progress since 1963, but even if you’re only partially interested in the adventures of MI6’s most famous son, this is unmistakably necessary. It’s 60 quid, but it’ll be the best 60 quid you’ve spent since Mario 64. Don’t miss out."
A common theme of many of these reviews was comparing the title directly to Iguana Entertainment's Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, which was released earlier that year. That game was also revolutionary in bringing the FPS genre to consoles but featured a thick fog that obscured much of the levels. Many of the reviewers noted that this was not an issue in GoldenEye, with the sniper rifle allowing players to view guards from miles away.
As you can see, the reaction was almost universally positive, with only the slightest of concerns raised about the switch from keyboard and mouse to N64 controller. If you have a copy of the game knocking about, why not load up the game and give it a go today? Or you can give this new documentary a watch.
Did you play GoldenEye 007 back when it was first released? How did you react? Let us know below!