Granted, it was a novelty for console gamers to be able to play any kind of worthwhile FPS game with their friends in 1997, but GoldenEye 007‘s multiplayer has always been more than a curiosity. The average GoldenEye multiplayer match was an incredibly tense affair typically amplified by your knowledge of the game, your willingness to bend the rules when possible, and the rivalries you formed with those you played against the most. Modern online multiplayer obviously offers tremendous advantages, but GoldenEye has long been “Exhibit A” in the argument that local multiplayer is so much more than a technologically inferior alternative. There is a joy to sharing a room with other players that online multiplayer games can’t always match.
That’s why I’m so darkly fascinated by the impending arrival of online GoldenEye 007 multiplayer. If it’s been a while since you’ve played GoldenEye 007‘s multiplayer (whether via the OG N64 version or the incredible GoldenEye Source mod available for PC), you may quickly discover that you’ve…lost a few steps over the years. Granted, the same could be said for many multiplayer games, but, as mentioned above, GoldenEye 007 is kind of a unique beast in terms of notable multiplayer games.
There’s a very good chance many GoldenEye fans have only ever played the game with a relatively small group of friends. As such, your memories of the game (and your memories of how good you were at it) are probably closely tied to the experience of playing with those friends. That means that you may soon discover that you’re not quite as good as GoldenEye as you remember. Again, some of that can be attributed to rust, but I also think that a lot of people are going to be in for a wake-up call when they put their memories of how good they were at GoldenEye to the modern test. It’s one thing to be the best GoldenEye player in your high school or college social circle and quite another to put your skills to the test against the world.
More importantly, I’m genuinely curious to see how many memories of GoldenEye will be forever corrupted by the realities of online play as well as how much gaming itself has changed over the years. I think people sometimes make too big a deal out of how poorly GoldenEye has aged (its various problems are closer to wrinkles than absolute deal breakers), but so much of GoldenEye‘s staying power can be attributed to the intimate nature of the original game’s multiplayer and how long we’ve had to wait for a proper modern re-release of the game. Now that GoldenEye is going to return to the masses in such a relatively modern way, how long will it be before the reality of playing GoldenEye in 2022 clashes with our 1997 memories of the game? When that happens, are we all going to have to reexamine not only personal memories of the game but how the title really fits into the greater cultural canon?
Ultimately, every person with fond memories of playing GoldenEye back in the day will soon be able to draw their own conclusions regarding how well it has aged and what they think of it. Some will embrace the game in a new way, some will reject it outright, and others will perhaps enjoy a brief trip down memory lane before moving on to other things. However, I think that a lot of old-school GoldenEye 007 fans are about to be hit with the realization that they maybe weren’t quite as good at the game as they once thought and that so many of our GoldenEye memories are actually memories of time spent with good friends that happen to include that game.