As gamers, we've been graced with a slew of tense, terrifying and specular FPS levels, and we'll be covering ten of our favourite next Tuesday. However, I remember none quite so fondly as Goldeneye's 'Facility'. It's not just that its James Bond, in pixellated Pierce Brosnan form, or that it came courtesy of the once-loved Rare Studios. It is, quite simply, a fantastic example of level design, gameplay variation and even storytelling.
So what better way to kick off our new weekly feature than reminiscing on just Why We Love... Goldeneye's Facility!
Bond. James, Bond
'Facility' begins just as the film did, albeit skewed towards a videogames' unique demands. Bond is crawling through the air-vents of a Soviet chemical weapons facility, silenced PP7 in tow. At discreet intervals, you can glimpse a few plastic-faced Soviet soldiers in the stalls below, dealing with more personal matters. 'Facility' is great because you truly feel like a secret agent, firing suppressed rounds through cubicle doors before a dead soldier slumps out, thankfully with trousers intact. You can even find a soldier standing at a urinal. Surprising him is rather fun.
We should draw attention to the fantastic sound of 'Facility', too, whether its the classic Bond orchestra, subtle to begin with, before gaining pace in later, more tense situations, and the overall ambiance, the pew-pew of the silenced PP7, the rattle of an enemy AK and the deafening boom of a grenade or exploding red barrel. It's basic by modern standards, but even now it has a charm and wonder all its own.
In 'Facility', you'll find not just soldiers with digestive problems, but Soviet scientists, too. If you become a little too trigger-happy with these egg-heads, you fail the level. Which is a pity. However, a number of these scientists wish to help Bond. One gives you a black keypad, which can decode a lock on certain doors to help you find Dr Doak. Now Doak is something of an easter-egg, named after former Rare studio chief, David Doak, who went on to found Radical Entertainment, creators of Time Splitters.
Finding Doak isn't a game-changing revelation, but its a testament to the way Rare once designed, scattering nuggets of comedy and quirk all across their well-designed playpens. As I mentioned, slaughtering the scientists results in a fail, but it is amazingly fun to run around their labs, shattering their spines with Bond's trademark karate-chop!
One Does Not Simply Walk Into 006
At the end of 'Facility', just like the film, you rendezvous Alec Trevelyan, 006, who, as you must know, seemingly dies, only to rise from the grave for betrayal. Goldeneye's 006 is sporting the pixellated visage of Sean Bean, yet another testament to its greatness. 'Facility's finale involves Bond and Trevelyan meeting in a cavernous room, housing ten gas-tanks you must sabotage.
However, you have only five remote mines, so it requires careful placing of the mines, and then sudden detonation when General Ourumov arrives with a Soviet platoon. Then, it's a simple matter of hightailing it to the conveyor-belt to be whisked away, as the bullets fly and 006 ostensibly falls to Ourumov and his men.
'Facility' is a fantastic level, from top to bottom. I haven't played the recent Goldeneye remake on the Wii, but I hear its a surprisingly well-done conversion, not so much a like-for-like translation but a new take on an existing template. The inclusion of Daniel Craig does bug me a bit. Brosnan wasn't the best, but we can't deny we loved him in Goldeneye, both the film and the game. His puckered, almost pained face in the game is such a great way top open a level as the camera swings down and into his perspective.
What did you love about 'Facility'? Do you remember it as one of your favourite gaming moments as we did? Or does it occupy a less nostalgic place in your heart? As always, leave your feedback in the comments below!