Before everyone was connected by a broadband, super-fast internet connection, if you wanted to play multiplayer you had to have two controllers and a friend, physically in the room with you. The N64 then went one better, adding three extra ports to the front of their console and making it possible for 4 people to play at once. Many games took advantage of this “innovation” and alongside the amazing Mario Kart, none did it better than Goldeneye.
Yesterday I wrote about the brilliant single player campaign but many will fondly look back at Goldeneye for the split-screen deathmatches. I won’t claim it was the first to add this as a shooting game extra but it was certainly the best it had been up to that point and I, alongside millions of others, spent hours and hours hunting, shooting and gloating as our friends screens turned that ominous shade of red.
The deathmatches didn’t just work because the gameplay was so fluent. It was easy to control, the N64 controller actually having a trigger helped, and the joystick made moving easy and intuitive. It wasn’t even the split-screen that made it exciting, although it was novel to have your tv screen split into four, sometimes astonishingly small-screens rather than the customary two.
The real joy behind Goldeneye came from the varied options. Options is what made the game so fresh and here you were spoilt for choice. For starters were the characters. Not only did you have everyone from the Goldeneye single-player campaign but you also had a who’s who of Bond’s greatest villains. Everyone from Jaws, Oddjob, Mayday and even Baron Samedi. Ironically for a game about James Bond, you’d rarely find anyone actually played as this character.
These characters were mainly just different skins on the same basic person but Jaws having extra height or Baron Samedi having a great top hat added to some of the novelty. Add in some of the random added extras, from guards to civilians and you had a roster of characters that rivalled some beat-em-ups.
Alongside the great characters were the great list of weapons. This added some extra competition and a race for the best weaponry meant the games could be frantic and often very unfair. You had the traditional pistols and machine guns but also laser guns, rocket launchers and the “one shot kills all” Golden Gun (cause of many an argument). Not just guns either, proximity mines were a particular highlight and incredible for stealth and planned killings.
None of this would be done any justice without some decent levels to hunt each other around. Everything as catered for. The main levels from the single-player were included (in altered form) from the Facility to the Library. There were also original levels, a favourite of mine and my mates being the Temple.
These levels were hugely varied, from the many hiding places in the Statue level, to the high vantage points in the Facility and the confusing, never-ending sand covered walls in the Temple. It made for competitive matches and games that were never the same twice.
Variation was also helped by the different gameplay modes on offer. These weren’t hugely familiar but the favourites were there, from capture the flag to one shot kills. The novelty was in the naming of the modes after Bond films, for example You Only Live Twice gave each players only two lives and License to Kill was one-shot kills.
Mainly, you would find yourself playing the normal, standard but no less fun deathmatch mode. This was where the multiplayer shone and it gave the game extra life. Beyond the excellent single player, Goldeneye would fight against Mario, Zelda and a whole other console worth of games to keep it’s place in your machine long after it had been “completed.”
Overall, Goldeneye is arguably best known for the incredible multiplayer. It had great characters, varied levels, cool weapons and enough modes to keep it interesting. At a time when to play against three other people you needed extra seats in your living room, Goldeneye will always be fondly remembered as the master of all multiplayers.