Visiting my folks for Thanksgiving. The only game console here is my brother's N64, so I popped in the original GoldenEye and played about halfway through. This is the first time I've played the original in at least six or seven.
One thing that surprised me right off the bat is how well the graphics have held up, all things considered. The '64 is connected to a 24" CRT TV via composite cables, and I was honestly surprised by how bearable it was to look at; I was expecting horrid smeary garbage. (I have a really hard time looking at 3D PSone games, due to the horrible mess that low-res, low-poly early 3D games can be). The character models are kind of awkward, but aside from that, the game really isn't all that bad... and the N64 (and any console that runs at less than 640x480, honestly) really does look much better on a CRT than on other types of displays.
It also really brought the difference in FPS styles into sharp contrast. While it dod add a fair amount of variety through secondary objectives and other elements, the original GoldenEye is still very much a "post-Doom" FPS. Most levels are simple (or occasionally not-so-simple) maps, which you run around openly in a search for the appropriate keys. Sometimes the "keys" would take the form of an objective or a plot-trigger point--that's part of what made this game special back in the day--but when you really get down to it, it's still "explore the maze, find the key so you can move on." The new GoldenEye, on the other hand, is more of a guided narrative: the levels are more linear, with plot more closely integrated; rather than wandering around searching for a key, it is always clear exactly where you're supposed to be headed, and the focus is on getting to the next area / triggering the next plot point rather than working your way through the maze. I'm not going to call one better than the other; they are simply very different types of games. And it really shows how much FPS have changed in the last decade or so. When the Rare GoldenEye was made, they were still more or less building on the foundation of Doom. Now, most "standard" or "traditional" FPS (including the Activision GoldenEye) are part of the plot-driven, waypoint-based House that Half-Life Built.
This leads directly into story. The plot seems more closely integrated into the new GoldenEye, which is a direct result of the changes in game design cited above. Part of this is simply because such things weren't really an option with the more limited hardware of the mid-90s, and part of it is a shift in design philosophy. GoldenEye integrated the plot reasonably well for its time, but the new game does a much better job of telling a story. The trade-off is that the story becomes a more important part of the experience; if the Bond license and story was stripped out of both games, and they were each presented as generic FPS games, the older GoldenEye would probably be more fun to play. The Bond "experience" is really what drives the new game, whereas the older title is simply a good FPS that also happens to be a Bond game.
So, that's that. Just a few thoughts as I unwind from Thanksgiving. Also, a fun fact: it turns out that, for whatever reason, my brother had two GoldenEye cartridges. So now we have a copy of GoldenEye for N64 to take home