Seeing as it’s going to be a while before we see the next James Bond movie, it’s no surprise that the worlds most famous spy should make a quick pit stop on home consoles in an entirely new adventure. Written by Bruce Feurstein, the man who penned the GoldenEye screenplay and was at the helm of Tomorrow Never Knows, this 007 adventure is in capable hands and it shows as the storyline could very easily have been from the next movie.
The title starts with Bond having to prevent a bombing taking out the top twenty world leaders at the G20 summit in Athens, and progresses down the path of twists, turns and crosses as any good feature film would do. Through this short adventure, you’ll travel to half a dozen exotic locals where you’ll be expected to complete some mixed goals in levels that clock in around an hour each. While this title’s availability coincides with the release of the reworked GoldenEye on the Nintendo Wii, it’s not a first person shooter – rather the game moves into the third person and actually quite reminded me of the Bourne Conspiracy in terms of gameplay. The hand to hand combat here was much less intricate, which says a lot, and there was a fair amount of gunplay – but the rapidly paced levels mean you’ll be able to mix it up often. Within each level, Bizarre Creations seemed to integrate some sort of driving sequence which given the pedigree of the developers seemed to always fall a little short of the mark. Either the driving controls were off, or the events that took place were so scripted that it was near impossible for the player to make a mistake and as a result the sense of actually controlling Bond’s destiny was absent making these short deviations from the action seem slightly intrusive.
Controlling Bond was fairly intuitive in the title and thanks to the resurgence of the Daniel Craig style of Bond, that being the distinct lack of gadgets. There’s no need to use your laser wristwatch to slice a lock, nor use a strategically placed button on your jacket to eavesdrop on your mark in a given level. This time the only gadget you need is your smartphone which is called by pressing down on the D-Pad and doing this helps display waypoints in the level, indicates where your enemies both fallen and alive are located in a level, as well as points you towards any scan-able items in the level to help you get all the achievements in the game. Gunplay seemed a little too easy at times thanks to the reticule homing in on enemies as you popped out from cover, meaning all you had to do was get relatively close to where you think the bad guy is located and the crosshairs would line themselves up – then all you need to do is move up slightly and you’re getting headshots galore. This was the case even when not in the bullet time Focus Mode, which is enabled after you take down an enemy with hand to hand combat. You can store up to three Focus attacks which guarantee a hit and kill on a foe, earning these is very simple and using them can help you out of a pinch if timed correctly.
It’s fantastic to see top tier talent lending both their likenesses and voice work to a game, and Blood Stone not only landed sultry soul singer Joss Stone to sing the always present Bond Theme Song dejour but she also takes on the roll of the in game Bond girl, and plays a pretty important roll. Both Daniel Craig and Dame Judy Dench also lend their likeness and voice talent to the game and do quite a solid job of selling the game. It’s refreshing to see the voice work actually fit the game as Dench’s ‘M’ packs in the slight bit of sass while the cocky Bond takes it all in stride. Unfortunately the graphics don’t quite hold up as strongly as the audio in the title. The character models seem a little dated and soft, lacking the finesse and detail that some titles like Mass Effect 2 have been able to demonstrate. The graphics don’t detract too much from the title but they definitely won’t be wowing anyone.
Fans of Ian Fleming’s character will more than likely enjoy this title very much, as it packs all the characteristics of a Bond film into a 5-6 hour romp around the world. Sure it’s not the most difficult game out there, and most players will have no issues with any of the in game challenges, save for some sketchy driving sections where the ice that is safe to drive on is nearly indistinguishable from the deep water which obviously would trap and kill Bond. Given the short duration of the game and the mostly forgettable online multiplayer component consisting of the standard fallback styles, casual fans of the series should likely wait for a sale or the inevitable bargain bin – but it’s not something that should be avoided altogether.
- The classic themed James Bond storyline keeps things interesting, but the familiar gameplay, short duration and lackluster multiplayer mode keep this from the top tier of spy shooters.
Platform reviewed: Xbox 360
— Jeff Paramchuk