I had played multiplayer games before I picked up the clunky Nintendo 64 controller that threw me in to GoldenEye 007′s death matches. I had “Finished him!” endless times in Mortal Kombat, taken down friends in imaginary cockfights Pokemon and blue-shelled every kid on my block in Mario Kart 64.
But GoldenEye’s multiplayer—and successive FPS multiplayer experiences—offered a slightly different flavor of competition. While it might not be the game that launched FPS multiplayer to its peak (COUGHHALOCOUGH), it was an oracle that screamed FPS multiplayer was naturally appealing and destined to be a perpetual success. Although Doom, Duke Nukem, and Counterstrike were all FPS cornerstones, GoldenEye was mainstream, sexy, well-constructed James Bond goodness that invited everyone to crowd around a friend’s N64.
Something made its novel FPS multiplayer experience distinct from other genres’ offerings. My neighborhood friends started N64 sessions by playing Mario Kart’s battle mode and eventually gravitating toward GoldenEye. While both of these games amounted to kill-or-be-killed gameplay, the group dynamic altered slightly, like a mutation in the genome of competition, when Goldeneye was lodged in the cartridge slot.
The mutation came from this: FPS multiplayer is quick-and-dirty, straightforward gaming competition at its finest. The rewards and failures are the most instantaneous of all genres. You’re in a cut-and-dry environment with little obstacles or objectives outside of survive and kill, something we accept with eerily easily.
In playing GoldenEye, my friends and I didn’t have to worry who was going to cross Mario Kart’s checkered finish-line first as we offed our opponents. Or practice for hours so we could beat the one kid who rocked at Mortal Kombat. Or invest the strategy and effort into wading through a 6-v-6 Pokemon match. Goldeneye was the great normalizer.
FPS multiplayer has its stake in instant gratification—a game mechanic that will continue to be paydirt in our speedy society. Once you enter actual FPS multiplayer combat, you and your opponent have maybe 30 seconds and then, blam, you’re dead and your pockets are getting raided for supplies.
GoldenEye provided the springboard for modern FPS to transplant its gene into their multiplayer experiences, and morphed our multiplayer experiences into something more accessible, even primordial. It brought FPS multiplayer to the masses, and Halo revolutionized the online space. We’re due for another evolution that is two-fold: not just growth in gameplay mechanics, but another alteration in the competition genome.
Free copy of GoldenEye007 to the reader who can find the GoldenEye gene in the picture above. For the more locquacious, painted version of this article click here. Like, in comparison, this 400-word version of the article is 64-bit and the full version is like 128-bit. Capice?
Meghan Ventura is senior editor/social media coordinator at MyGamer.com, and writes about Japanese video games and culture at her blog, KanjiGames. Invite her to a FPS fragfest on Twitter: @meghanventura. Her favored GoldenEye multiplayer settings are Moonrakers or rocket launchers only. Duh. The only way to play.