While the developers at RARE launched this franchise into superstar proportions, EA hasn’t done the series too much justice since. However, EA is getting better with time, as Agent Under Fire proved, being its most successful Bond game yet. Continuing the cycle, EA’s latest foray into this lately-troubled series is easily its best, and while you think that might not be saying much, trust us, it is.
Throughout the 12 levels in single-player mode, you’ll be presented with a number of different variations. First off, not only will you traverse areas in first-person mode, but you’ll also have to tackle obstacles in a 3rd person perspective. And just like in Agent Under Fire, some of the levels will take your skills to the road in one of Bond’s exotic cars, such as the V-12 Vanquish. In the five levels that you’ll be driving in, you’ll be behind the wheel of a number of different dream cars, each fully pumped with solid arsenal of weapons and gadgets, including heat-seeking missiles, tire tracks, and an EMP emitter. The Need for Speed development team is once again the group backing the production of the driving levels, though a few innovations have been implemented this time. The car can lift so that it only rides on to wheels, acting as a great defensive maneuver, and the car can also transfigure itself appropriately so that it can go underwater. which range in a number of different objectives, such as impeding the adversaries’ van route.
A Bond game isn’t a Bond game without the flashy cars and gadgetry. There are a couple goggles that you’ll be able to utilize against the opposition: night and thermal goggles. The thermal goggles act in a couple different ways: seeing through objects such as crates as well as displaying nearby enemies by sensing their heat. The night vision goggles work especially well in the darker locales of the game, helping you to more effectively spot nearby enemies. Players are also equipped with a key chain that’s more than meets the eye, just as usual. This key chain emits an electrical charge when coming in contact with an enemy. Using weapons like this one helps to better execute a stealth-like game plan.
Reinsuring Bond’s effectiveness is a multitude of weapons. Not only is his repertoire of offensive machinery quite impressive, some of it’s even new to the series. The pistol and silencer are veterans to the series, and others that we’ve seen before -- such as an automatic rifle, sniper rifle, and shotgun -- are also included. EA, much to our displeasure, is being rather "hush-hush" about the full list of weaponry, so unfortunately we’ll just have to be surprised with some. On a good note though, Bond controls solidly and moves precisely, lacking any noticeable problems, and the game flows seamlessly.
What’s also interesting about Nightfire is that the levels are set up in a way that some objectives contain multiple solutions, and likewise, destinations include numerous routes to take. Tying in with later parts of the game, your decisions will actually predetermine later events. So, for example, you might want to look at a goal later down the road before opting to take one path or route to complete a preceding task. Let’s say you need to enter an area secretly, and you have two paths to take -- one where you take fight the opposing men all out in a firefight and one where you can take an alternative route to stealthily sneak past the guard undetected. Carrying out the first scenario would be finished in a more timely manner, and you’d probably pick up a good bit of ammo, but the guards inside might become alerted from this, messing up your initial goal. So taking the latter would probably prove to be more efficient.
The AI has also been convincingly improved, so much, in fact, that you’ll have to adjust your play. After you dispatch an enemy, its dead corpse will alert nearby enemies if it’s seen by them. Consequently, you’ll need to dispose of all the enemies in a certain location so that one won’t investigate and therefore alert others. You can also throw smoke grenades to hinder their investigation.
Nightfire’s multiplayer looks very solid throughout. Supporting 2 to 4 players simultaneously, players can clash heads in a number of different modes, including Arena, Team Arena, and King of the Hill. The levels’ maps have been fabricated interestingly and thoroughly, featuring a host of turns, loops, and corridors, and some better adapt to players’ game styles than others -- so while some are better for front-on firefights, others play advantage to a steal-like offensive. We’re hoping EA can provide a solid framerate once the game is released, and we’re sure they will.
James Bond 007: Nightfire has certainly come a long way, being in development for two years now, and this lengthy time of development definitely looks to be paying off. Easily EA’s best attempt since they’ve gotten the series, Nightfire not only looks to surpass other failed attempts but also compete with today’s best in the genre.
7/24/2002 Joseph Comunale