When I was at gametrailers forums, Goldeneye was more often than not a bone of contention during console and PC fanboys slugfests. It was the preferred target for PC elitists to pick on when condemning the legacy and legitimacy of console FPSs. With so much conviction and zeal in their utterances, you could be forgiven for being taken in by their rhetoric. But closer investigation into the evolution of FPSs does not paint the picture that one side would want you to believe in.
The major flaws honed in were the controls, its frame rate and its lack of customisation. For PC gamers, those factors are generally king when deciding what perks a PC game has over a console game, especially an FPS game. An FPS can't be called a good FPS without decent controls and Goldeneye's fiddly analogue stick control scheme is nowhere near the mark set by the keyboard/mouse combination, and the auto aim feature's existence was purely to compensate its ineptitude. Even though the multiplayer provided split-screen capabilities it still comes up short against what the PC offered, especially Quake, but given that it was an afterthought, it was never going to be displayed as its showpiece.
Those things aside, it did everything else right. For a brief moment, it was the most sophisticated and realistic shooter at the time even when pitted against the PC big hitters. Sniper zoom-in ability, interchangeable dual akimbo weaponry, stealth-oriented gameplay, locational damage with realistic reactions, gun reloading animation, headshots...Sure, some of these alleged innovations were already done in FPSs that came before it such as Marathon, Terminator: Future Shock, Team Fortress, Outlaws etc. But Goldeneye combined and turned those gimmicky and non-essential elements into essential ingredients of the FPS experience.
While the enemy ai is laughable in today's standards, it was actually cutting edge for its time believe it or not. The soldiers are designated patrol routes, utilised different weapons, responded to noise, ran to set off alarms and are able to climb/descend ladders. Some of these scripts are even beyond the ai of Half-Life released a year later, which was widely held up as the gold standard of artificial intelligence of its time and rightly so.
Goldeneye wasn't just a revolutionary game on consoles, it was a revolutionary game period. If it had been released on the PC, there would be no questions asked about its legitimate place in the pantheon of FPS greats. Halo may have done more to push the viability of consoles as a platform for FPS development, but I always thought Goldeneye was a better designed game overall. It had detailed, intricate, sprawling level designs which puts Halo's uninspired copy-pasta conceptions to shame. That and the absence of a rebounding health meter. ;)
Remarkably, Goldeneye was sandwiched between some really notable forward thinking shooters that came right after it. Not least of which were Half-Life and Starsiege: Tribes which were so ahead of the curve in many respects. I believe that's why its contributions didn't seem like a big deal anymore, with these sudden ridiculous leaps in the genre in such a short span of time, Goldeneye was inevitably left in the dust. In spite of all that though, I commend Rare for the remarkable job they pulled off given the limitations of the N64 system they had to work with. I'm sure they wanted it to shine like a beacon, but alas, there were just too many groundbreaking FPSs in the market during that time. In PC fanboys' eyes, it's small fry and didn't register so much as a blip in the grand scheme of things, but I'm sure PC developers were looking towards the example set by Goldeneye.