EA’s latest foray into the world of James Bond changes the formula and saves the day.
“Do you know anything about guns, Mr. Bond?”
“I know a little about women.”
He sure does, and apparently EA knows something about making a satisfying Bond game after all. Everything or Nothing has reinvented the stagnant gameplay that plagued EA’s previous games. Ditching the first-person perspective will have players viewing James Bond in a whole new way while they shoot, drive, and mack their way through an all-original adventure.
The high production values are immediately apparent, featuring a host of high-paid stars and a bevy of beautiful women. The story is penned by Bruce Feirstein, who wrote several recent Bond scripts, and stars Pierce Brosnan, Willem Dafoe, Heidi Klum, Shannon Elizabeth, and Mya, along with staples Judi Dench and John Cleese. What’s truly surprising about this mega-production is that it doesn’t fall into the classic trap of all fluff and no stuff. The gameplay is there every bit of the way, and the final result is the best pure Bond game ever made.
The story centers around Nikolai Diavolo (Dafoe), an ex-KGB agent bent on world domination. While that’s no real surprise (after all, that seems to be what ex-KGB agents do), Diavolo is actually a prodigy of the legendary Max Zorin, played by Christopher Walken in A View to A Kill. It seems that Diavolo has stolen some nanotechnology and there’s only one man who can retrieve it. That’s where you come in.
The game drops you right into the middle of the action and will have you picking off enemies, blowing up a hover jet, and making a daring escape in the first five minutes. The gameplay centers around a simple-but-effective cover and shoot mechanic. At the touch of a button, Bond will hide or crouch behind cover. From there, you can lock-on to a target, and you can pop out and fire at will. In an excellent touch, you can refine your locked aim with the C-stick and easily hit any part of the body you wish. In fact, since much of the game involves covering and shooting, you’ll be hitting head shots like, well, like James Bond. When there’s no cover to take advantage of, you can rely on your pugilistic skills and beat, throw, or, should you be sneaky, snap your adversaries’ necks.
Another inventive mechanic you’ll use a lot is the rappel command. Bond is equipped with a grappling hook that’s fortunately easy to use. You’ll be spending a good bit of time on walls and the sides of buildings, allowing you to reach other areas and look good doing it. While this element might be a bit overused in a purely Bondian sense, it serves to mix up the gameplay nicely and breaks the feeling of confinement. Plus, plugging the bad guys on the side of a building is thrilling. Players can also take advantage of the “Bond sense”. It’s like an anti-Spidey sense. Instead of warning Bond of impending doom, it allows him to dish it out. It’s basically a slow-motion button which also highlights certain objects, such as explosive crates. You’ll also be equipped with some excellent gadgets, the coolest being the Q-Spider. It’s a robotic, scouting spider which allows you to check out upcoming areas, or to access areas too small for Bond to fit through. Oh yeah, it can blow stuff up, too.
Of course, what would a Bond story be without a few vehicles? Everything or Nothing is no slouch in this area either. EA utilizes the Need for Speed engine in the driving sequences, and the result is fast-paced, fluid driving that doesn’t feel like just an afterthought. You’ll have a number of vehicles to play with during the game, including an Aston, a Porsche, a motorcycle, a helicopter, and a tank or two. I don’t think anyone could possibly object to racing down the street raining terror with mounted guns and rockets. The driving levels are fairly open, allowing you to choose your own path, without being overly large and confusing. See, you can have your cake and eat it too.
EA has also seen fit to include a multiplayer component. There’s your standard deathmatch option for up to four players, which fairs well but ultimately pales in comparison to the co-operative mode. You and a friend can tackle the game tag-team style, and EA has done a good job of not only retaining the fun and spirit of the single-player campaign, but also adapting the game for co-op play. It’s a worthwhile addition that doesn’t feel like a bolt-on.
Comparisons to the venerated Goldeneye are inevitable, and EA’s games until now have only led to disappointment. The publisher has been attempting so hard to recapture the magic and cash in on the Bond license, that they completely ignored the deft touch necessary to create a memorable game in the Bond universe. Their previous forays tasted like Siamese Vodka, but they finally broke out the good stuff. James Bond is more than a rag-tag collection of shooting, driving, and gadgets. He is all of these skills simultaneously in one dashing package. Where so many games fail to merge varied gameplay types, Everything or Nothing succeeds. Where Goldeneye was an incredible FPS dressed in a tux, Everything or Nothing is pure, 100 proof Bond.