I, like Chi and the rest of the video game industry, was less than impressed when Nintendo announced that one of the debut titles on the Nintendo 64 would be a FPS based on the latest James Bond flick, GoldenEye. The genre was saturated with games that were essentially graphical showcases and no fun to play at all. On top of that Rare was developing it. The last game they made was Donkey Kong Countryfor the SNES, which was a nice feat, but nevertheless an accomplishment that didn't command respect. All this made the accomplishment that is GoldenEye all the more special and makes it easily the surprise hit of the decade.
Chi put it best when he said, "while the game is heavily steeped in the movie... it isn't hindered by it". In GoldenEye I got to actually play as James Bond and do the things James Bond would do. But maybe more to their credit, Rare was also the first to incorporate stealth into a FPS. It was always clear that I was a spy and that stealth and caution would win out over brute force. Giving the player nothing but a silenced handgun to start off most of the missions was a simple, but crucial move. I had to learn early on to make do with what I had.
It was to my advantage to sneak up on enemies or pick them off one by one from a distance because once you were found out, you were usually out-numbered. The realism Chi mentioned also helped to keep the player in the game. When you shot an enemy in the head, that was it. He's dead. Shoot him in the arm and he's quickly aware you're out there somewhere. It was done so well that you were truly rewarded for doing what a spy would do rather than what a "fragmaster" would do. This was a guilty pleasure, but I must admit that many times I postponed beating the game to work on my shooting and stealth. Sneaking up on guards or picking them off from yards away offered a certain satisfaction that I couldn't get anywhere else.
The James Bond license was almost worthless when Nintendo bought it. After GoldenEye, it seemed like every developer and publisher wanted to get their hands on the license for the newest James Bond movie. Did James Bond suddenly become marketable? No, GoldenEye showed the industry what could be done with a good license and excellent design. Time will tell if they were playing attention.