Much like as it is with the movies, in video games, James Bond will always return. Many a development team has done their best to recreate the success of the N64’s GoldenEye or craft something new and engaging for the franchise, but the slew of 007 games has only managed to be decent or fail miserably, never achieving their goals of surpassing the standard bearer. This entry by Eurocom has a new gimmick though, one that fits right in with the movie Skyfall. Just like in the film, James Bond is severely wounded after being shot and falling off of a train. While he is down in the water, considering where things went wrong in his life, the legendary hero relives a weird random assortment of adventures.
Oh man, this all sounded so good at the start. The trailers did their job perfectly, hyping me up for a new first person shooter starring my second favorite British gun-wielding womanizer. There are a lot of options to play with and a few different modes—got to love that four player split screen—but the one that caught my attention was choosing the health system: a modern regenerating life mode, or classic, where health packs must be found. That made the game a good bit tougher, but felt more old school in the genre too. The game can be hard in some parts, but aim assist cuts down on that. I had to mess with the options a bit more to adjust the look sensitivity and can’t imagine I was the only one. Otherwise, the controls are fine. Some of the aesthetics (that seem lifted from GoldenEye 007: Reloaded by the same company), like gunplay and how the bullet holes are ever slightly raised from some surfaces gives the game a cool feeling of nostalgia for me.
Honestly, let’s just start with the worst part. The close quarters hand-to-hand combat ruins the game. It isn’t the only issue I have with this title, but it is the most egregious. The mechanic is this odd boxing style where the player presses up or down on the left or right thumb stick when the prompt comes up. There is a dodge that is useless and occasionally there is a weapon to block and disarm with simple repetitive button presses. This is god awful and kills any momentum the stage has built up. It is so simple and boring that I thought I was missing some part of it at first. This slow groan of an encounter system is how bosses are handled and turns some of the most famous villains into vexing inconveniences. Whose idea was this? How did it make it on to the disc? Not to be cliché, but this is lazy, unimaginative, and truly takes away from the game.
The next issue is the stealth. First person view games that try stealth can be hard, but this is made worse when the game doesn’t offer a good way to view guard movements (the watch isn’t good enough) or let the player move the bodies. There are parts where this is optional and others where it is required and getting spotted without immediately dealing with the problem results in having to restart the section. It looks like they had a good engine but wanted to add stealth to something that was not designed for that—feeling forced in. The only advantage with this is that the AI is not bright.
Die Another Day
Hitting the story next: it is cool that we have some excellent movies to work off here—no one is counting Die Another Day—but other than their obvious framework, they have nothing in common and don’t connect. I will give the developer some props. It had to be hard not to put something from GoldenEye in, but they fought the temptation. Mission objectives are incredibly tired and basic though. There is nothing truly interesting to do and the vehicle portions are awful with horrible controls or coming off like an on-rails shooter. I do think the character models look great and they even got some of the original actors to voice their characters. Fans will get to see cool memorable scenes from the franchise that stick decently close to the source material, making me want to re-watch all the movies. The ending is… almost non-existent though. Firstly, the game released without the final level. It was a free download after the Skyfall movie came out, and the mission was based off of a few small bits from that story. It’s a lackluster DLC and isn’t even available anymore, so as I got this disc used and after a certain time, everyone else is just out of luck.
The game is not only rude to late adopters, but new players as well. Several sections toward the end are quick to fail players without explaining what is going on. Many of these scenarios aren’t explained and suffer from shaky mechanics. It’s the same way with the repetitive mini-games, where the game expects players to figure out exactly what it wants at the risk of frustration. The upgrade system took me a moment also due to a lack of direction, but it is simple once everything is seen. The gadgets are simple for the series and only the phone can be annoying, and the weapons and their attachments are basic enough. I mostly just stuck with the pistol and shotgun.
The loading times feel too long. Everything I read about the online play reported lag, stuttering, and connection issues when trying to find games that weren’t team deathmatch. I ran into a few glitches, but there is nothing like being shot from nowhere when no enemies are in the room. For those who are concerned about framerates and texture perfection, this is not going to be pretty.
I thought after the first couple of missions the game would get a pass, but it wasn’t long before I regretted that thought. There is still some fun shooting and cool spots with parts from the movies, but anyone who doesn’t like the franchise or enjoys quality will be sorely painfully slogging through this title. My apologies, Mr. Bond, you deserve better.