By Steven Smith
GoldenEye 007 remains one of the most popular all-time console games. I wrote for +Nintendo Life here as to why I replay it so much as well as this article about its never-released Xbox Live version and this article on the blog re-playing the Wii version.
It’s a seminal console FPS, proving the genre didn’t have to be PC-only if developers could find a unique slant. And this is exactly what Rare managed to do back in the mid-90s.
As you know, GoldenEye 007 has 18 main storyline levels and two bonus levels for completing Secret Agent and then the über tough 00 Agent setting. Below I have ranked all 20 levels based on how much I enjoy replaying them individually.
20. Surface 1
Its non-linear environment is a definite positive; being able to roam freely around helps make the stealth element more engaging. However, the environment is drab and sparse and the objectives through all difficultly levels aren’t anything to shout about. I only re-play this if I am recompleting the game.
I like how similar to the film its environment is but that’s as far as my enjoyment for this level goes to be honest. It’s a small, linear level really; the tank is slow and there’s no real skill involved in completing the objectives.
18. Surface 2
The redeeming feature from the first Surface is that the objectives are more of a challenge. It’s still drab though – a shame the Xbox Live version didn’t see the light of day because it really spruced up the visuals of this level.
I do like racing through for the target time cheat but it is far too linear and repetitive to have longevity in the enjoyment stakes. Scientists just get in the way too….
16. Bunker 1
Its semi-non linear structure allows for some stealth – picking off cameras and enemies hoping for minimal disruption. However, I just can’t get over the missing sections that suddenly appear in Bunker 2 and link the whole facility together. It just makes Bunker 1 not feel quite right…
It’s so far down my list because of the utter underwhelming feeling I got playing it for the first time once I had toiled through 00 Agent. It just didn’t feel worth the trouble at the time. Although facing off against Baron Samedi is cool and the level has so many nooks and crannies for enemies to pick you off from. Some skill is needed.
Jungle reminds me of Turok’s opening quite a bit – the scenery and fogging create a foreboding atmosphere. A player does need to sneak through and carefully pick people off in the early stages in order to conserve health for later on. I like facing off against Xenia as a bit of a mini boss and the weaponry gets fun. The biggest challenge is the target time because your usual tactics have to go out the window.
I can still get lost on this level! For some reason that’s why I like it and re-play it. I have never really managed to learn its layout off by heart and I probably won’t. However, for some, I can see why this level might be a bit drab and easy to fly through.
This is quite a clever level because of the designers’ use of repetitive scenery to confuse the player and get them lost. If one memorises some certain junk in the level then it isn’t too hard to whizz around, however. Bad guys can pop up from anywhere around you and the flight recorder can land in a few different places to keep you on your toes.
11. Bunker 2
A much better version – the player can roam freely through the corridors and rooms in any chosen direction in order to complete objectives as efficiently as possible. The challenge leaps between Agent and Secret Agent – one must decide on a tactic for completing it and stick to it. For example, I methodically pick off every bad guy in the level – there are 50-odd by the way – and happily let it take as long as it needs. Some like to race through completing objectives and killing when necessary. However, this doesn’t work for me.
What I like about it is that the level is linear in terms of completing the objectives and subsequently getting to the train yet there’s so much to explore and roam freely for if you’re on Agent, for example. I remember exploring every corner of every place looking for some sort of secret or Easter Egg. It also gets super tough on 00 Agent so a good level all round.
Driving through the streets in a tank, crushing anything in your path is still a lot of fun even if it is rather slow. Yet, on foot, there are back streets to explore and objectives to complete on harder settings. On foot is also the best way to complete the target time for a cheat – just get your head down, memorise the route and strafe your heart out!
This is a brilliant level for many reasons: a mixture of linear and non-linear structure for completing objectives; a well-pitched difficulty increase; lots of different scenery in the facility with some good visuals still; and a hugely tense battle at the end both in protecting Natalya and the subsequent race to the end. Yes, protecting her is annoying and massively tough on 00 Agent but it makes the level what it is. It’s at number eight because it is one of the toughest levels in the game and will drive you insane on 00 Agent.
A huge, sprawling level that can be raced through with expert marksmanship or taken slowly with stealth. Objectives’ challenge increase well like in Control but it feels more achievable on 00 Agent. Again, some good weaponry on display and it introduces some new scenery such as the doors and the corridors. I like how it can be tense at the end but not off-the-chart-tense like Control is.
Archives for me is fun because it is a race – get out of the room, get to Natalya, get out on to the streets. This race gets tougher and tougher as you up the difficulty and I don’t think there’s any other way to approach it. Stealth just doesn’t work on here and that’s tough!
Probably the most linear stage, a criticism of mine earlier on, but its linear nature creates a great feeling of claustrophobia on the train. There’s nowhere to hide, no method of escape from fire other than ploughing forward. Therefore, one must be on one’s best form to pick off everyone as quickly as possible especially on 00 Agent. Although experts can memorise their appearance, I like how enemies pop up behind you, follow you and can cause loss of health if one forgets. Also, try to kill Trevelyan at the end – apparently it’s possible!
This one is a little nostalgia-driven because for 99% of us, it was our first experience with the game and the opening level epitomises my love for GoldenEye 007 because of this memory. It is still a good level – large and even larger when you have to explore what is going on underneath the surface of the dam. Some combination of blasting enemies and picking them off covertly is the best approach and, if you have an Action Replay, you can reach that fabled island across from the dam!
Another race – this time in pursuit of Trevelyan once and for all. It’s tough because of the enemies ; they’re not your priority for once! Sometimes you need to get them if they’re in your way but ultimately the death of Trevelyan is your goal and this needs to be the focus. Well-placed head shots get him to say “Finish the job, James!” quicker and this is your aim. I like it because it has the right level of tension and a variety of FPS skills are needed to complete it. Chasing Trevelyan around is fun and the level is the right size for this kind of objective. Pitched well all round by the +Rare Ltd developers.
A fantastically well-pitched level. From picking off a faeces-full guard and dropping into the toilet, to blasting those bottling tanks, the level is full of great moments and challenge. It’s quite claustrophobic with little room to hide and pick off enemies. Racing through proves to be the best method and has to be in order to achieve that insanely difficult target time on 00 Agent. It’s so well-recreated from the film and is genuinely the most I feel like James Bond in this and any other James Bond game on any console. Sublime for me.
A superb level and a wonderful present from Rare for completing Secret Agent. In terms of reward satisfaction, this should have been given for completing 00 Agent but then not as many people may have got to enjoy it. It looks fantastic, it has an array of scenery and places to explore and it really challenges the gamer to use many skills to complete the objectives. Not only that, you get to battle Jaws. Jaws! Yes, you can just get face-to-chest with him and blast him to death but that doesn’t matter because it’s surreal to be battling him in the first place. We are introduced to the laser gun and your aim is to get that rocket into space. I love this level and happily replay it when I get the chance. It can still get me – I’ve never perfected it and this gives it longevity for me.
Steven Smith runs the N64Memories Twitter and Facebook pages as well as its blog – www.n64memories.blogspot.co.uk