James Bond 007: Nightfire Review
Gaining super-stardom from RARE's phenomenal GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64, the Bond games have ever since been ones that players look forward to; and while EA has since disappointed with the license in its care, last year's Agent Under Fire sparked a previously dismal light. Players will see that Nightfire is quite a bit like Agent Under Fire, and likewise, unravels a brand new story -- not based on any Bond movie.
From a visual standpoint, the game sports but a few subtle refinements from Agent Under Fire. All the scenery and characters look basically as though they were taken right from last year's title, with the exception of Bond, who looks amazingly similar to Pierce Brosnan. However, with that said, the game still sports an impressive level layout, with expansive scenery and tons of enemies lurking around corridors and panels; and moreover, the framerate always stays at a solid pace, even in the fastest of car chases.
The CGs are on a whole other level, however. The outstanding scenes that are presented before and throughout the levels are not only crisp, high-quality visuals, but the animations also flow effortlessly in a genuine fashion, and the explosions and usage of lighting and fire effects look equally as astounding.
Comprised of 12 single-player level's, Nightfire's main mode takes a very similar approach to last year's foray. Before starting, you chose the difficulty of your expedition: Operative, Agent, or 00 Agent. You can unlock subsequent levels by completing the one that preceded it, and you can get awarded after a level's completion with a gold, silver, or bronze award. The levels are fairly lengthy too, with a number of goals in each one.
Dissipated throughout the levels is quite a heavy arsenal of weapons. Fitting in to the more mundane range of weapons are the stun gun, sniper (tactical and winter covert), and also a Wolfram PP7, P2K and Kowloon Type 40, or your average pistols. In addition to that are the more beefed-up types of weapons you can use, including the SG5 Commando, Deutsche MK9, Auto 12, and AT-420 Sentinel. The Sentinel is easily the most outrageous gun in the game, letting you manually control the missile all the way to its destination, and while not all weapons have this capability, some can be changed from pump to auto, or other changes in the way the gun shoots.
But while Bond has massive weapons at his disposal, sometimes they just won't be of any use, granted some of the missions require a stealth-like offensive that prohibits the use of them. In the second level, for instance, one of the main parts in it has you attending a party covertly in hopes to rendezvous with a fellow agent. If you attack a party member in any way, shape, or form, your cover is blown and your mission is aborted. In another similar situation, you have to travel through a level where the guards will sound the alarms almost instantly if seen, so the employment of your stun gun is the only way to proceed, as any gun fire will alert other guards. Making it even harder, cameras are also set up to survey the premises.
Of course, the 00 agent isn't complete without his handy gadgets that his colleague has worked up for him. Donning a laser, stunner, grapple, decoder, and more, Bond can easily weasel his way through to places that ordinarily couldn't be reached. The gadgets mesh well with the weapon usage and are great to use. Only in a Bond game will you see stuff like this.
Splitting up the first person shooter part of the game are several driving levels. Piloting fast, stylish cars like only Bond could, you'll travel through numerous settings, and since it's armed quite nicely, you can take out the opposition via your machine guns or homing missiles. It controls and plays just like Agent Under Fire's driving levels, and those who are familiar with the recently released Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 will be equally as accustomed, since the team from NFS worked on this aspect of the game.
Riding in expensive cars isn't the only transportation in the game you'll use, however. While a female sidekick drives a snowmobile, you'll man the guns throughout a level of fast-paced action in the snowy mountains, replete with machine gun lead spitting everywhere. Additionally, there's a level where you're the sniper in a helicopter, taking out your foes from high above. Sniping enemies while moving in a chopper of a fast, jerky speed is quite the challenge, but always a fun one, nonetheless.
And no matter how you're taking out enemies, on foot or under intense speeds, you'll definitely be presented with some challenging fire fights. The AI has been enlightened, and, in turn, enemies are jumping, side-stepping, hiding behind corners just to stick their arm out and shoot, and more. The average enemy takes a few shots before they drop, too, which creates some intense situations indeed.
The single-player mode is pretty engaging, but the fun kicks in even more when players delve into the multiplayer options of the game. Offering up a whole score of different ways to compete -- Arena, Team Arena, Capture the Flag, Top Agent, Uplink, Demolition, Profession, Industrial Espionage, GoldenEye Strike, Assassination, King of the Hill, and Team King of the Hill -- up to four players can clash simultaneously, via split-screen, in any of the eight levels available. Since four bots can also be added to the mix, and many variables can also be accounted for, the game makes for some great team battles, as well as other set-ups.
The multiplayer has some fun little extras, as well. If activated, remote-controlled mini helicopters and tanks will be scattered throughout the level, and if assumed control of, players can roam around in a first person view of that particular vehicle and attack enemies far away. However, in doing this, you leave your character frozen where you undertook assumption of the vehicle, making you a hapless victim for any possible nearby enemies.
The audio score turned out quite well. The gunfire is, of course, nothing we haven't heard before. And the use of the famed Bond theme has also been thrown all over the mission cut-scenes; in addition, the voice acting was pulled off very convincingly, which added even more to the already visually-impressive cinematics.
When all is said and done, Nightfire is just somewhat of a disappointment for those expecting something significantly superior to last year's iteration. But with that said, Nightfire can just as easily be an addicting single-player experience, and the multiplayer is incredibly fun, especially with the Sentinel and mini vehicles, to boot. It's certainly one of the better first-person shooters for the system, but the series still has areas it can be improved upon.
12/2/2002 Joseph Comunale