GoldenEye 007 Review (Xbox Series X)
Release Date: January 27, 2023
Publisher(s): Nintendo, Xbox Games Studios
Developer: Rare Ltd.
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Windows
*NO SPOILERS BELOW*
A GoldenEye 007 remaster/remake has been highly anticipated for some time, with rumors of the project circulating for the better part of decade. Footage and screenshots of all kinds have leaked onto the internet over the last few years, keeping fans like me, at the edge of their seats praying for an eventual release.
After being officially announced for release during the summer of 2022, Xbox and Nintendo users were finally graced with a remastered version of the Nintendo classic on January 27th.
GoldenEye 007 was originally a N64 era action first-person shooter where you took the role of the infamous 007 himself, James Bond, using your impressive skill set to blast through enemies, complete objectives, and serve as Britain's best secret agent.
The story takes place 5 years after Bond and his fellow agent, Alec Trevelyan, infiltrate a Russian chemical base. During the mission, Trevelyon is shot by General Ourumov and during an onslaught of shooters, Bond manages to commandeer a plane and escape. GoldenEye 007 starts off with Bond being tasked to investigate another Russian base, where he inevitably discovers that something far more nefarious is at hand. This shooter was meant to be a companion to the film of the same name, which starred Pierce Brosnan as the iconic MI6 spy.
Objectives range from clearing out enemies, to disarming explosives, to recovering classified information. Players are exposed to over 20 weapons from pistols to machines guns to even throwing knives, with the ability to collect body armor.
Upon its original release back in 1997, the game was a critical success, praised for its detailed environments, fun gameplay, and well-structured backstory. By 1998, it had gone on to sell over 2 million copies, and over 7 million by 2001. For an era where gaming was still considered an underground hobby, these were incredible sales numbers.
Today's rerelease is a near carbon copy of that original 1997 entry, with the graphics being optimized to run smoother on current generation consoles. Outside of this there are several differences between the Nintendo Switch and Xbox versions. The Nintendo version offers essentially a ported version of the N64 original at 1080p resolution with online multiplayer. The Switch version is available only through Nintendo's Online subscription service. Comparatively, the Xbox version features an optimized split-screen mode, the ability to run the game at UltraHD 4K, and the ability to unlock new aspect ratios with game progression. For digital owners of Xbox's Rare Replay, which was a collection of retro games that launched back in 2015, this game is a free update. Alternatively, it can also be found on Xbox's Game Pass subscription service. Neither service offers the game as a standalone purchase.
This game is a throwback in the best way possible. Playing GoldenEye 007 on the N64 was a staple for the kids in my neighborhood and the choice to keep the original graphics is incredibly appreciated as an original fan. On the Series X, the gameplay is fluid, and the optimization certainly comes through, and I found there were very little bugs and issues when it came to frame rate. The bugs that do remain are from the original N64 version, as the developer for the Xbox port, Code Mystics, stated upon release. Therefore, in yet another way, this is a true throwback to 1997.
The plot and characters may seem a little thin to those that never played this back in the late-90s and early 2000s, as compared to today's releases, it certainly has a rose-tinted appeal that wouldn't reach the younger generation of gamers. Each mission is laid out with "classified documents" that preface the objective and story for what is expected in all nine missions. Within the nine in game missions are "chapters", each of which honestly end up serving as levels of their own. Through each, the layout is more or less the same -- shooting through bad guys and completing objectives -- the composition of each mission/chapter keeps the immersion fresh and the instances of mild puzzling acts as a palette-cleanser from the nonstop gunning.
As mentioned earlier, the Xbox version does not include online multiplayer, only split-screen co-op, which is an absolute shame. This is definitely a missed opportunity as one of the defining features of Xbox is its focus on the multiplayer sphere. As a result, the omission of this feature, I believe, will make GoldenEye 007 likely disappear from the eyes of Xbox gamers pretty quickly. I hope this changes in the future as I'm eagerly awaiting the chance to obliterate my friends in this iconic game. That being said, with the Series X's ability to run solid emulators for Nintendo and PlayStation exclusive games, I'm sure someone out there is already deep in finding a way to make this happen.
The upscaled graphics do reveal quite a bit about the state of the 90's original. With the 4K and upscaling, the roughness of the environments is revealed, and oddly enough, it also leaves most of the onscreen text on the Xbox version blurry. Thus, while the gunplay is much smoother and the settings are sharper, the contrast with the text can be a bit visually unappealing at first, but as you progress, you (mostly) forget about it.
Aside from the visual off-ends and lack of multiplayer on Xbox, the issues over licensing agreements are not only what led to Nintendo and Xbox receiving different versions of GoldenEye 007, but also perhaps lends credence as to why we never got an upgraded version. For Xbox players especially, back in the Xbox 360 days, there was an arcade version (AKA GoldenEye 007: Reloaded) that showcased smoother gunplay and updated environments. It honestly looked akin to a mid-2000s Call of Duty game. Even the aforementioned leaks and remasters featured footage that was of an upgraded game. It's yet another instance where this re-release missed a mark, not just in bringing back a beloved classic, but also in potentially connecting it to a younger generation of gamers that never experienced 90s gaming.
At the end of the day, the remaster of GoldenEye 007 stands as the ultimate gaming throwback, from its original graphics to badass soundtrack and classic controls. While the option for online multiplayer is sorely missed in Xbox's version of the release and the revelations of what licensing disagreements may have cost us, the smooth campaign and visual optimization still leaves players with more than enough action-heavy gunplay to quench any FPS gamer's thirst.
GoldenEye 007 can be found via Nintendo Online for Switch players, Xbox Games Pass for Xbox and PC, and as a free update for digital owners of Xbox's Rare Replay.
Looking for a concise, informative recap of gaming's hottest news each week? You can find me over on Rumble every Sunday at 9pm EST for my "This Week in Gaming" podcast. You can find also find episode reuploads on your preferred streaming services by searching for "The Lambency Show".
You can also find more of my gaming related content on YouTube.