GoldenEye 007 wasn’t the best shooter in town when it arrived in 1997 on the Nintendo 64 or even the best-looking one, but decent first-person shooters were unheard of in the late 1990s on game consoles (as were decent James Bond games).
With GoldenEye 007 — a tie-in to the 1995 Pierce Brosnan film — developer Rare upended the assumption that shooters couldn’t work with a gamepad, delivering a fully 3D action extravaganza that rewarded stealth as well as ballistic finesse. Enemies were uncommonly intelligent and environmentally aware, quick to tip off their comrades if they noticed or even heard something awry. And for a change, the game actually made you feel like a super-spy, giving you tasks like disarming bombs, snapping pictures of clandestine info, rescuing hostages and gathering or destroying objects.
But the game’s most memorable contribution was probably its multiplayer, which allowed up to four players to square off in deathmatches with variable rules — free-for-all, two lives before permanent death, death from a single hit, etc. — cleverly styled after Bond movie titles.