From Russia With Love
James Bond. Heís one of the most famous pop culture icons of the twentieth century. For over four decades, heís entertained legions of moviegoers and spy fanatics alike. His obvious issues with alcoholism, misogynistic attitude, and obscenely destructive behavior aside, his suave personality, mad secret agent skills and simplistic charm have won over many a fan throughout the years. Though the times have changed, his impeccable fashion sense and outright obsession over Vodka Martinis havenít wavered a bit. Heís faced criminal masterminds, diabolical henchmen, rogue agents, corrupt businessmen, lethal assassins, KGB lackeys and saved the free world more times than you should shake a stick at. Heís got an arsenal of high tech gadgetry, tricked-out sports cars, and the ability seduce any woman (and probably a few men) that get a little too close to him. Yes, James Bond is truly the king of the action and spy flicks.
Too bad most of his recent movies completely and utterly sucked.
I shay, my good man, it’s shnowing
Donít get me wrong; blockbusters like Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, and the rest of the modern Bond movies work well as mediocre action films. They simply lack the same kind of charm and magic that the older movies possessed. James Bond wasnít always an emotionally scarred operative working under a prudish old woman. There was a time when the super spy went straight for the action, throwing his emotional baggage out the window and using his wits and skill to kick evilís collective ass. It was when Bond took down guys Oddjob, dismantled the S.P.E.C.T.R.E. organization, and sexed up foreign women like there was no tomorrow. It was the time that Sean Connery played the role of the Bond, etching the image and ideals of the character into minds of the moviesí growing fanbase. With so much success with these first movies, itís little wonder that EA chose to create a video game adaptation of From Russia With Love and convinced the original Bond to do the voice acting. In retrospect, it must have seemed like a good idea at the time.
As soon as the adventure starts up (after fairly long loading screen depicting a Russian belly dancer), youíll find yourself knee deep in Bondís latest adventure. Thankfully, the game spares you most of the contrived plot and keeps the simulated training and explanations to a bare minimum. Once youíve gotten a feel for the controls, youíll get to go kick some terrorist ass. Thereís just one problem, though; the combat in this game is far too simple and dull to be fun. All you have to do is lock onto an enemy with the shoulder button, mash the attack button and watch your enemyís health slowly fade into oblivion. Sure, youíll get to wield shotguns, assault rifles, and even Bondís signature PP7, but the combat never changes. Once youíve killed everyone in the immediate vicinity, youíll move on to the next area of the horribly linear and cramped levels, kill more baddies, and rinse and repeat a few more times. There are a few objectives tacked on, such as defusing bombs, rescuing hostages, and infiltrating buildings, but they add absolutely no depth to the game.
It’s amazing what a tuxedo and six shooter do against heavily trained terrorists with semi-automatics
In order to spice up such horribly bland gameplay, a small assortment of gadgets will be available for use throughout the story. Youíll get the chance to drive around in Bondís Aston Martin, complete with mounted machine guns and missile launchers. Too bad the controls for the car arenít fine-tuned like their silver screen counterparts. The driving missions are nothing more than driving around the crowded streets of Russia, blowing up a few carloads of baddies, and making it to whatever destination the mission requires. While this isnít quite as dull as the regular gunplay, the combat could have been far more refined and exact. Instead, it feels like some cheap Burnout or Full Auto knockoff. Fancy vehicles aside, gamers familiar with other Bond titles will welcome the Laser Watch, a staple of previous Bond games, with open arms. Should you feel extra sneaky, you can launch the Q-Copter and spy or assault your enemies with its surprisingly powerful weapons. And if all else fails, you can use your belt as a grappling hook, complete with highlighted locations, scalable walls, and breakable windows all for your convenience.
However, not everything is totally new. Many of the weapons in the From Russia With Love lineup are faithful recreations from either the movie or previous Bond games. Unfortunately, the game makes gimmick out of what could have been a solid cache of weapons. Should you want to get your hands on some serious firepower, youíll have to search every level for ďResearch PointsĒ that can be cashed in for upgrades to your arsenal. Thatís right, not only do you get to mindlessly lock on and shoot everything in your path, but you get to waste even more time looking for currency to boost your weapons ratings! Oh yeah, thatís tons of fun. In a poor attempt to make the things less lame, the game tries implements a special finishing move system to take out your enemies. Once youíve whittled down your targetís health, a small icon will show up. Press the corresponding button, and Bond will execute some spiffy close quarter combat moves. If going Naked Snake on your foes isnít your thing, you can also employ ďBond Focus,Ē which is essentially nothing more than a slowed-down Matrix-esque targeting system. Such a concept was pretty interestingÖten years ago. Throw in an unremarkable multiplayer on the side, and youíve got a game that fails to deliver anything new or refreshing.
The shun is shet, the lightsh are down; time to move into actshun
The only thing even remotely redeeming about this game is the fact that Sean Connery did Bondís voice acting. Yeah, that might grab the attention of all those hardcore fans out there. Unfortunately, not even the mighty actor can save this game from mediocrity. In fact, it doesnít seem like he really wants to; many of the lines are poorly executed with little emotion or emphasis on words. Sure, Connery may have been reading these lines off a piece of paper, but he could have put in far more effort for this bland game. At least the video game version of the old Bond is presented accurately enough; his signature suit, attack stances and movements, and even his facial features all resemble Mr. Bond circa 1963. Many of the buildings and areas are decently detailed, including the leafy plants in the Hedge Maze or the cobblestone streets in the driving levels. Longtime Bond aficionados will recognize a few of the retro Bond theme music, including the classic gun barrel intro animation. Thatís assuming of course, that they donít mind how the music skips every time the game suffers some serious slowdown. Get enough things moving on the screen, and the game will go from and fairly easy gunfight into a snail-paced struggle for survival. Needless to say, Bond is going to have his work cut out for him this time.
Shimply shtunning fight shenes here
I wanted to like it. Really, the raving Bond fan hidden inside of me was practically begging me to enjoy this game more. How could it have gone so wrong? It was an adaptation of one of the most classic Bond films ever made. It was supposed to be a departure from the FPS-style Bond games that weíve grown to love. And above all else, it had Sean Connery providing the voice acting. Unfortunately, not even that could save the game from its utterly abysmal quality. The combat system is a joke compared to those found in previous games, the special features are nothing more than overused gimmicks, and it feels more like an unfinished work. Thereís nothing new or interesting about this game; itís just another horribly mediocre third-person shooter with the words ďJames BondĒ stapled on. When all is said and done, From Russia With Love lacks an important quality that previous Bond titles had: fun.
Five out of ten