I had a massive video gaming success last week and felt compelled to share my excitement. I’ve been playing Goldeneye on the N64 for about eight years now. It was first introduced to me back in late 1999 by some friends of mine in college. Being a huge fan of the entire FPS genre, I was instantly hooked. I stopped playing for a while later that same year when I moved to the US but then picked it up again in 2001 when I was able to buy my own N64. Since then I have played on and off as the fancy takes me, usually going months without powering up the console and then playing intensely for a few weeks before once again hanging up my controller. I beat the game proper back in 2004, finally defeating the “Control” level on 00 Agent, which is still the hardest level in the game in my opinion. The Natalya shoot-out on that level is just a bear and I find failing missions due to the fact that an escort or protection target got shot to be the most frustrating in the genre. For those of you not familiar with the game, the basic premise is that Natalya is going to crash the Goldeneye satellite from within Trevalyan’s control center. After fighting your way through guards for a few minutes, you’ll get the chance to protect Natalya while she does her work. This basically entails her standing in the middle of a very open area for about two minutes while elite guards attack her from all angles. She goes down after just one or two shots and the guards zero in on her really fast.
However, that is not the achievement of which I speak here! As I said, I was able to complete the game proper back in 2004; a feat which generated much celebration. One of the really compelling aspects of Goldeneye is that each level has to be defeated on three different skill settings; Agent, Secret Agent, and 00 Agent. The difficulty increases with each settings, as do the number of objectives that are needed to finish your mission. However, for each level in the game there exists a target time stated for just one of the difficultly settings on that level. For example, by completing the 3rd mission (Runway) on Agent in under five minutes you have met the target for that mission. This gives the ability to meet twenty new targets (one per game level) even after you’ve beaten the game. It was this aspect of Goldeneye that kept me playing all these years. Until last week, I had met the target time for every level in the game except one; the infamous Facility 00 Agent Invincibility target time! By reaching each of the targets you gain access to extra game settings (called cheats in the game, although they are really additional option flags), and the most difficult of those to achieve was the Invincibility game option. The 2nd level in the game (Facility) has a target time of 2:05 on 00 Agent difficulty. Most people (myself included) have a hard time beating the level in under ten minutes on that setting when they first play it, and can barely get it in under five minutes after they have honed their skills and already beaten the rest of the game. Like others, I had long thought of the Facility target time as approaching impossible. However, with the aid of some online FAQ articles and hundreds of hours a reasonable time investment, I was finally able to start getting my times down lower and lower. I got close a couple of years ago, finishing the level in just under three minutes. However, I got really burned out on the game at the time and just stopped playing, feeling that I’d made a good attempt and that the 22/23 unlocked cheats would be enough for me, that it wouldn’t eat away at my soul and niggle me into feeling incomplete. Ha! Sure enough, a couple of weeks ago, I got the urge to bust out the N64 again just to play around; nothing too serious. I finished the game up on a new profile pretty quickly and started once again working on the list of target times. It always amazes me how quickly all of the memories come back to me with video games. I’m hard pressed to remember what I ate for dinner last week, but I could walk you through the optimal route to beat statue park in my sleep. Sooner or later the inevitable occured and I was faced with only three or four outstanding cheats to unlock. I had unlocked all but one of those in the past and decided that it was time to face my old enemy once again.
The key to beating the facility on 00 Agent in under two minutes is 10% raw speed and 90% raw luck. I don’t believe it will ever be possible for me to “get this one down” to where I can do it over and over again. It takes about an hour to even get in the groove where a speed run attempt can be made, and even then it relies upon a random NPC being in the right location at the right time. One of the objectives on the 00 Agent setting is to retrieve a door decoder from an undercover agent in the facility, which you then use to unlock the door to the bottling room at the end of the level. Unfortunately “Dr. Doak” is in one of four or five random locations each time you play the level. If he isn’t in the one most ideal locations, then you will spend too much time looking for him to be able to finish the level in the target time of 2:05. After digging around the internet for the best strategies, I came upon this walkthrough (complete with video), which helped me out a LOT. That explains the basic idea behind the strategy, the only modifications I make are to use another remote mine in the long hallway with the three advancing guards and just finish up the bottling room with three mines instead of four. This requires that Dr. Doak is standing to the right of the crossroads of laboratories at the end of the level as it wastes about five seconds throwing and detonating the mine at the right point.
After countless attempts and restarts, I had one run that just seemed to be working out perfectly until the end. I had literally flown through the level, Doak had been exactly where he was supposed to be, and I managed to get into the bottling room without dying. I laid my mines and waited for the “Objective C: complete” to light up the screen indicating that the conversation with Trevalyan was over. Then panic ensued because I was expecting “Objective D: complete” to appear to indicate I had blown up the gas tanks with the remote mines. Did I miss the notification? Was it a glitch? If I exit the level now and the objective isn’t complete, I’ll fail and waste a good run. If I take the time to check the objective list I might blow the target time. Just as I was about to check the objective list, I saw the last tank was untouched, indicating that I’d misplaced one of the mines. I quickly shot it full of lead with the KF7, saw the objective complete and exited the level, praying I hadn’t screwed up the best run of my life. Sure enough, it came in at 1:45; time to spare! I can’t express the shout that went up at this…let’s just say the happy dance was on display and I was running around my house singing and screaming. Now I just need to finish up the statue level target and a couple of others that I’ve done before and I’ll finally have a profile with the full 23 cheats unlocked. My soul will be cleansed with the pure sweet feeling of completeness.
(excuse the scanlines, my gaming TV isn’t high-def nor LCD, it’s simply a great Insignia I picked up for $99 at Best Buy a few years ago)
So ends this installment of “I’m not a perfectionist, honest!” and I finally have my life back. Now I can get to work beating Perfect Dark Zero on the XBox 360, which at least is a game on a present-day console! I want to send a big thankyou out to Meaghan on this one. I couldn’t do it without your steadfast support and understanding of the fact that deep down I’m just a 12-year old geek who refuses to grow up. I love you baby.