James Bond 007: From Russia With Love
If EA wanted to make Bond games based on the Bond movies again, they really ought to have worked their way backwards through the franchise. I can see it now. 007 License To Kill the videogame: Find Timothy Dalton's charisma. Or, failing that, how about A View To A Kill: Getting Rid Of Duran Duran - this time it's personal? 'Everything Or Nothing'- despite many of the missions being nowhere near enough to fox a five-year-old and the inclusion of the tedious episode where you had to rescue some singer from a man with a flame-thrower, was little short of high octane fun with the phaser set to kill. You could take command of robotic spiders to outsmart your enemies. Your foe grew smarter and predicted your move. You could even perform 'Matrix' style special moves on opponents without breaking into much of a sweat. But no, EA didn't want to go down that route this time around. Instead, they wanted to drag the world and his wife back, kicking and screaming, to the Sixties.
The game opens with a cut scene. Some dastardly terrorists are hell-bent on mischief and mayhem. They storm a party attended by commander James Bond and the Prime Minister's daughter - a woman who, in the right light, looks suspiciously like...wait...no...hold on... it is Natasha Bedingfield. If they're looking for a weapon capable of defeating even the most determined of hard line terrorists, Daniel Bedingfield's latest album should do it. There are enough pointless ballads and dodgy dance remixes on that CD to stun those filthy vagabonds whom now threaten the great James Bond. But no, dear Natasha screams and is captured. You must pursue her captor to the roof, dodging the enemy as you go, finding passkeys and paying close attention to the tutorial hints and tips. Finally, after talking to a strange woman behind a secret door, you have the passkey and you race to the roof to discover...well obviously...a jet pack. Hang on; the jet pack was from 'Thunderball'?
Sean Connery is back as Bond. He sounds like Bond did in the '60's and he dresses like Bond did in the '60s. You're armed with the usual PPK but forget robotic spiders and door lock decoders. This time, your stuck with laser watches and difficult to steer mini-helicopters. The hedge-maze level introduces you to the stealth aspect of play and teaches you how to hide and sneak up on opponents, staying in the shadows. Unfortunately, it's annoying and, ultimately, unfulfilling, as you'll discover at the end of the level. No time to waste on pondering such things though. Time to return to the charms of Miss Moneypenny and a briefing from M. Hang on? Where'd Judi Dench go? Furthermore, why can't you just actually have the briefing from M at the start of the mission instead of making half a mission solely about finding your way into M's office? No matter, M's got a slideshow going on and it'd be rude to miss your appointment. He might, after all, want to show you pictures of his trip to Egypt as well as photos vital to your mission. Oh look, there's his kid with a new sun hat. Isn't that cute. No, wait; the Russian spy defecting to the US is more important. Does anyone remember the Cold War?
007 must travel to Istanbul. Enter classic car, stage right. Every Bond game has a driving mission. The one in 'Everything or Nothing' was superb as maniacs chased you from all sides, you had to jump across the ocean onto rocks and you were in the company of Shannon Elizabeth for most of the ride. Sounds good fun to me. Who have we got for this driving mission? Ah, some bloke with a dodgy moustache. Oh yeah, I was forgetting, it's the '60s. It's at this point that the game gets quite irritating. You have to destroy the Russian's garage. If your car gets damaged, don't fret. You can take it to a repair shop run by your companion's nephew. He will be only too glad to help out British intelligence. Oh, whoops, turns out the mechanic is dead but you can still repair your car and then damage it a lot while you work out how to drive it out of the repair shop. Why do the bad guys chasing Bond stop chasing the secret agent when he goes into a car repair shop? Why not simply blow up the shop? All those questions pale away into insignificance when you realise that this driving mission, complete with a very familiar garage, has been lifted from 'Everything Or Nothing'.
That's not to say that there aren't any surprises in store for those who venture through this game. A tank can, apparently, be destroyed by a PPK's bullets. A number of cast members who are dead make miraculous and unexplained appearances in the game. The actor who played Q died a number of years ago. Yet, Q in this game sounds almost exactly like our dear departed gadget wizard. Again, why can't Q's briefing be one of the cut-scenes? It is in every other Bond game on the market. EA have done exactly what the Bond franchise itself is attempting to do: indulge in pointless, crippling nostalgia. 'From Russia With Love' is a great game if all you want is a man with a gun shooting some bad guys. But if you want a Bond game, stick with 'Everything or Nothing'. Fact is, Bond is heading back into his past because Hollywood became more concerned with profit than plot. Unfortunately, this isn't Bond at his best.