GoldenEye 007 was the first true FPS title for consoles. Sure, older games like Doom and Wolfenstein 3D had made their way over to console platforms before, but they were always butchered or in some way made inferior to their PC counterparts. It took Rareware, a legendary company in the 90s, to bring FPS to console. While this is a groundbreaking achievement, unless you’re into the game itself, you might now have realized just how influential it really was, which is where GoldenEra comes into play.
GoldenEra is a new documentary that seeks to shine a big spotlight on GoldenEye 007, not just for nostalgic fans, but for folks interested in a story from the game’s industry’s past that not enough people have been talking about.
A Golden Era
As the story of GoldenEra starts, you’re presented with a vision of early Rare, then known as Rareware. The company was, and still is, based out of a rural part of England called Twycross. As Grant Kirkhope, legendary composer for Rare, puts it in the film “it’s got a pub, a private school, and a bit up the road there’s Twycross zoo.” In its early days, the company was known as a bit of a weird one. No one on the team had made a lot of video games before, and it was basically just looked at like they were a bunch of nutters keeping to themselves in a converted farm somewhere no one really visited.
It is in this isolated setting that the perfect storm of innovation and slight insanity occurred to create the legendary output of Rare in the 90s. The film very much sells us on the idea that the reason that Rare existed in the way that it did, was thanks to the two founders, Tim and Chris Stamper. These two brothers were apparently very much in-sync at all times, leading to an age where Rare just didn’t seem capable of putting out a bad game. Throughout the 90s, they mostly went from strength to strength.
Rare had this reputation for pushing the boat out. In many cases, they were the first people to do things that become standard practice in the industry in various forms throughout the years.
GoldenEra: Crafting The First Proper Console FPS
A big part of the documentary is given over to discussing the minutia of exactly how GoldenEye 007 came to be, and to be fair it’s an interesting story. Whether you’re a fan of the game itself or not doesn’t particularly matter here. Essentially, this documentary is chronicling the sort of event that will almost certainly never take place in our industry ever again. A team was given a movie-tie-in game to produce and was allowed to keep working on it till it was actually ready instead of churning out a quick cash grab. Almost completely unheard of for most licensed games.
Even more impressive, GoldenEye 077 was the first FPS title to be made with a console in mind. Sure, we’d seen some relatively shoddy ports of things like Doom or Quake to PlayStation, but this was the first game designed for a console first and foremost. The biggest factor that made FPS on consoles a challenge was related to the controllers being used. ON a PC keyboard and mouse made shooters much more viable, but with the introduction of the N64 and its three-pronged controller, suddenly games were being introduced to an analog stick for the first time.
GoldenEye 007 Was Brimming with Influence
The biggest revelation from GoldenEra for someone like me who is only passingly acquainted with the game is just how much of an impact it had on the industry as a whole. I was aware that it was an immensely popular game, as you can tell by the number of people who just won’t shut up about it. The truth is that GoldenEye 007 has touched almost every corner of the industry, influencing everything from Half-Life to Call of Duty.
According to some of those folks interviewed in GoldenEra, GoldenEye 007 was one of the first FPS games to really do a number of things. Firstly, it popularized more realistic settings, steering away from the magic and demons typically found in contemporary games at the time. Another big innovation was the level design, which was filled with nooks and crannies to explore in a way that other games hadn’t been able to do on consol until the advent of 3D graphics.
Bar far the biggest shock to me personally, was the fact that the game directly had an influence on Half-Life, one of the most groundbreaking narrative videogames of all time. Valve let it slip that they had delayed Half-Life after seeing GoldenEye 007 because the Bond game had such great AI.
Is GoldenEra Worth Watching?
Really, as interesting as the concept is, the main question is whether or not GoldenEra is worth your time and money. The answer is, mostly, yes. If you have love for GoldenEye 007 or just find yourself fascinated by stories from the game industry’s past, then there is a lot to love here. You’ll hear from industry veterans, and probably find out more than you thought possible about Rare and GoldenEye. That said, the film isn’t without problems.
There are some cuts here and there that feel just slightly too amateurish. If you’re the kind of person who notices strange cuts, you’ll probably be a bit too jarred to get deeply invested. It also feels like the storyline is presented in a bit of a confusing way. It all makes sense when you hear about Rare first, then move on to the development of the game in question, but the later 45 minutes feel a little drawn out and muddled at times. That said, there’s certainly plenty to enjoy here for gaming buffs.
While WePC is not affiliated with Altitude Films, Roller Coaster Productions, or Slated, we did receive the film for free.