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Goldeneye retrospective

Myself and the Ladz, in this case Formosus and majk, congregated at my house just like old times last Thursday at around 5. We were fully geared for a Halo2 romp and that's exactly what we did. Two games: up to 100 random weapons in Lockout (just like old times) and up to 50 standard slayer in Terminal (again, like old times). It was a laugh riot and a load of fun, I was glad to be a part of it! It was almost 7 and the lads had to go soon, so I insisted on breaking out Goldeneye for the N64. This is what leads me to a multiplayer review, with hindsight and nostalgia firmly in the balance.

First off, a little history lesson. The N64 was my first console, Goldeneye the first game that came with it. My first multiplayer game ever was a 1 vs. 1 in Temple with my brother, Niall. Fun times - I trumped 'im! These were back in the before times, before any of the Ladz existed in my life. I had a different group of 'friends', all local boys. Conveniently there were 4 of us, so we played pretty much every N64 game at full capacity and as a result got the full experience. Goldeneye was the second favourite, next to battle mode in MarioKart64.

Goldeneye was an excellent game in it's time. We had never played a shooter before - this was before today's physics engines. There was nothing quite like playing Unlimited score, Power Weapons in the king of all levels, Library. Proximity Mines were another favourite. If you got hit, you ran away - the screen would flash and make a weird noise over the gunfire, while your character was hurled several feet. It was not unusual for the first person to shoot to win the ensuing firefight. That is, if you could catch the sucka.

When one got sick of just shoting all the time, you could always play some of the scenarios. There was no Capture the Flag unfortunately, but there was always Flag Tag. Much like a moving King of the Hill, a player would snatch up the flag and be forced to leg it. No weapons, gaining time with the flag to win. Other scenarios included having two lives (you only live twice) and one-hit kills (license to kill). Many of these were reviled and hailed at a turn, but the teams aspect most so. 3 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, 2 vs. 1 (if one of us opted out) - all of these could make or break friendships if abused. We loved imbalanced teams, I mean to say.

A large degree of customization existed in Goldeneye, remarkable enough for a console game. A huge cast of character skins were on the menu. Many a time I played as the Arctic Commando, but the race for Oddjob always existed. The incredible cheats menu was always ready for perusal, but often only Radar Off was used. A health menu was always there to sort the men from the boys. I was always forced to take a -2 handicap to health, lame! Levels were easy to decide after several games. The usual suspects of Complex and Library were put against places like Temple and the Basement, which were always avoided!

Actual gameplay was, as I mentioned above, great in it's time. We are treated to the archaic notion of the camera going into the back of your characters heads to show you're controlling them at the start of the game. I think it's a classic. Music is randomly chosen from the game's soundtrack unless you're playing a level from the singleplayer, like Facility. Some themes are excellent, others are piss. You run around the map unarmed initially, which is a hopeless situation to be in. Most games today will give you at least a pistol to start with. Grab a weapon! Luckily there are guns and ammo boxes in most rooms of the level, but never enough to clog up corridors.

You can pick up all the guns on the map and maximum ammo too, so theres no pressure. People will quickly warm to certain weapons; I was always a fan of the Assault Rifle and Laser(infinite ammo!). Everyone loves the RC-P90, and why not? It's so overpowered it's excellent! I'm playing Goldeneye so long, I have names for some of the guns which have entered local archives - the DD44 Dostovei is the 'Milky Way' to me. It's a white pistol compared to the standard black of the pp7. Milky Way bars. No? Other weapons that everyone loved were the assorted mines; Timed, Remote and Proximity. Remote Mines blew up on demand, pretty cool but hard to judge when someone was near. Timed Mines were the least popular; they didn't last long. Proximity Mines blew up if anyone went near them and thus tight levels like Stack became deathtraps. This was exascerbated if you can't see the frickers. Why do you think the Basement level was so reviled? Dark and made of corridors. G'lame.

With all these fun aspects, why is Goldeneye not played to this day? The multiplayer is almost unplayable today. You have your weapon and your running along looking for another player. You see them and shoot; they shoot you back. Both players' screens flash in pain and the characters are hurled back several feet. The former point is forgivable. The latter aspect is condemnable. Back in the day, we were content to chase each other, shoot the crap out of the level and eventually kill. Nowadays we don't want every single fight to be a long game of cat and mouse. If you can't jump and you don't want to kneel you're left with fight or flight. Fighting is merely a collection of flashing screens, shooting sounds and eventual death. Flight means to fight again another day and stretch on the action - no wonder theres nothing above 'up to 20'. Thats why we selected up to Unlimited' - we just went up to 50 or so and ended the game there.

So a great amount of customization, lovely weapons and lovely levels. After all that preparation, you can't even play the shooter game for what it's made for - shooting things up. There are so many positive things about Goldeneye but this one fatal flaw. Back in the day, we thought nothing of it. Today, we can't play through one round without crying out for character models that don't recoil in the most painful manner. Despite this, many fun times were had. I was weaned onto the shoot 'em up multiplayer circuit by Goldeneye. The singleplayer is excellent in every sense of the word; I still play it to this day. Stealth, action, whatever your taste. I hope to refer to it many a time over the course of my blogging.

Heres a little redeemer for the multiplayer; the postgame comments! After the match is over, a postgame screen appears which has everything from how many kills you had to who-killed-who the most. If one goes a few screens to the left, you'll find interesting little comments; a max of two. My favourites from the halcyon days were 'Most Deadly' and 'Most Professional'. I still do not know the criteria for attaining these, but they always imparted a warm buttery feeling inside. Other ones included 'Longest Innings' and 'Markmanship Award'. Among the most entertaining (and most annoying) were the bad 'awards'. 'Most Cowardly' was regularly issued (hey, fight or flight, central theme of the multiplayer) alongside 'Where's the Ammo/Armor?' - run out of ammo in a firefight too often equals fail.

So that's a Goldeneye multiplayer retrospective. I hope I didn't cock up this whole thing too much by not maintaining a central plan while writing and writing it on two different days. I hope you do enjoy my take on videogames, there will be more to come alongside everything from ragging on Fianna Fail to food reviews. Cya around!


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