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Game Review

Goldeneye 007 (XBLA Version) (2021)

One of the best things about Microsoft purchasing Rare back in 2002 was the fact that we were hoping to see some if not most of the developers infamous games on a much more powerful console. When the Xbox 360 came out and Xbox Live was starting to really gain traction with downloadable titles, everyone waited for what was inevitably a “HD Remake” of Goldeneye 007. After a few years Rare did make good on updating several of their classics like Perfect Dark and even the Banjo games… but Bond’s greatest outing never showed up…. Until 2021.

Thanks to anonymous leaker, the shelved title that is roughly about 90% completed leaked online in February of 2021, with a build date all the way back to 2007. Using either a modded real Xbox 360 or an emulator titled Xenia, anyone is able to play this forgotten to time game that should have come out over a decade ago. 

The remake is a full port/updating of the original Goldeneye game from the Nintendo 64. Everything in the original game is here in the new version, and just like other “HD Remakes” of games over the years, a on the fly toggle switch will allow you to simply press a button and switch back and forth between the two different art styles of the game. Play in the HD version or swap to the original muddy graphics of the N64, complete with over the top fog to account for hardwares shortcomings. 

There really isn’t much here to say or anything substantially different since it basically is just a nicer version of the game that came out in 1997, but there have definitely been some Quality of Life improvements over the original game.

First off, the controls adapt extremely well to the newer dual analog sticks of the modern consoles. Precise aiming is done by pressing and holding down one of the bumper/shoulder buttons and using the right stick to aim. It’s a bit clunky, but much better than anything else available on the original and can’t really be changed since the game is just the same under the hood as the original. It really is more of a port than anything else. 

Another nice addition is that certain objectives like getting a specific key card that can be extremely hard to discern from the blurry visuals get a nice bright circular waypoint that can be seen through walls and really point out “Hey, you missed something, go back and get it!”

Along with the updated visuals like text on computer screens that show the developers names (nice little easy to see Easter Egg) the characters look much more like their counterpoints of the movie. James Bond looks like Pierce Brosnan (My personal favorite Bond) and 006 looks like Sean Bean. Natalya looks much more like a real person here than anyone else I guess and now I’m excited to go watch the full movie as I haven’t seen it since it came out on VHS all those years ago. 

Multiplayer is fully intact as far as I can tell, which was the real stand out of the game and the portion of the game that most people spent time with is just as fun as ever. However I still stand behind Perfect Dark’s multiplayer being much more enjoyable with tons of customizations and the inclusion of bots. Maybe I’m just biased because I didn’t have anyone else to play multiplayer with in my house and was only able to play it whenever I went over to my friends house to play. 

While there are still some minor graphical glitches to the game, it’s fully playable in all difficulties. The team has said that there are only 90 bugs left in the game, but since it was never allowed to be finished, those bugs are still left in there and won’t ever be patched out. Thanks to licensing issues with Microsoft, Nintendo and MGM this was never going to see the light of day, but luckily someone was able to get their hands on it and put it out on the internet where it will never fully die. 

It was a blast to play through the game again, and while I only played through it on the Agent difficulty, I did go back and unlock some of the cheats just because I could. Unlocking cheats can be done either by inputting codes in the cheat menu, or the old fashioned way by playing through levels on certain difficulties under a specific time. It’s basically classic speed running. Unlocking paintball mode for example has you completing the first level, Dam, in under 2:40 on the Secret Agent difficulty. Which isn’t too hard, basically as you fly through the level, you have to shoot out all the alarms as well. Knowing the level layout and the different objectives for the different difficulties is the key to being able to unlock all the cheats.

Once the cheats are unlocked, they become permanently toggled in a Cheat Menu in the Main Menu of the game. 

All in all, I’ve been wanting to play through Goldeneye again for years, and always got through the first couple levels, and even unlocked the Invincibility cheat on an emulated version of the game, but never played all the way through the entire game again. With being able to switch to the N64 version and the newly remastered version on the fly, bouts of Nostalgia came flooding back multiple times through my quick playthrough. Seeing this infamous port/remaster finally see the light of day was one of those “Holy Grail” moments in gaming, and I’m glad someone finally leaked a fully playable version. Everyone deserves to play this game and relive some great childhood memories, not to be locked away forever because of some lame legal issues.