For Our Eyes Only – Goldeneye 007 by Alyse Knorr and Boss Fight Books

Full disclosure: I backed the Kickstarter for Goldeneye 007 at the deluxe hardcover tier at $30. Boss Fight Books provided an advance copy of the standard edition for me to read and review.

Alyse Knorr has written a history that has left me filled with jealousy. Having written my own history piece and read countless others, Knorr cements her double-0 status as a historian and writer. She transports you back to those mad lab barns littered across the Twycross property, hidden behind the brick walls and shrouded in signature Stamper secrecy. Now, just as I am familiar with the dossiers scattered across the screen in Goldeneye’s menus, I now feel like I know how the definitive Bond game was all fashioned.

She has taken on the immense task of chronicling how one of the all-time classics was crafted. The book does not just guide the reader through a timeline of the making of the game. You are engrossed in the mindset and fervor of the team’s development. And when stepping outside of the Bond Barn and out of the mid-90’s, Knorr reaffirms what we all remember—Goldeneye 007 was sublime.

It was lightning that hasn’t been bottled since. The fusion of insight to the passion that stitched together the team and the everlasting legacy feels tailor-made coming off the page. It fits like one of Bond’s iconic suits.

The team at Rare’s ability to create and iterate feels refreshing to read about today. It’s my favorite kind of dev story: a passionate team pursuing “on the stick” design while pushing the boundaries at the time. From the sweaty mocap to cooking up reactive AI, the stories and techniques filled me with a sense of giddiness; joy in knowing the work paid off and seeing so unfold across the pages.

Reading this book now has also been a great benefit personally, as i have been playing some other Rare N64 classics for Chapter Select Season 3. Turning Kazooie into a gun in Banjo-Tooie? Conkers Bad Fur Day having multiplayer? Heck, Donkey Kong 64 and Tooie too! 1 The competitive nature of Rare’s teams thrived off how much fun Goldeneye’s multiplayer was. They kept trying to out do one another, but no one figured split-screen out like the Goldeneye team.

And some of the story is still playing out to this day. My favorite chapter was Never Say Never Again with its dive into how the shadow of Goldeneye 007 still looms over Bond games and Rare. From the Xbox Live version leak last year to Xbox achievements being pinged last month, it feels like the N64 classic is never out of the gaming consciousness. I may have even already downloaded the fan-game Goldfinger 64, courteous of Knorr’s work.

Goldeneye 007 (the book) is a thrill to read, just like Goldeneye 007 (the game) is to play. Even more so, I admire Knorr’s writing. I’ll look up to it as one of the golden standards to strive for the next time I write some sort of history. Until I Write Another Day, just remember that Goldeneye is Forever…

1. His coconut gun can fire in spurts…