James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing Review
Ever since GoldenEye hit the Nintendo 64, causing GPA's worldwide to plummet; the James Bond franchise has been one of the most popular series on any of the consoles. After acquiring the Bond license from Rare, EA released a rocky follow-up on the Playstation, but ever since has focused on returning the series to the greatness it achieved with GoldenEye. James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing is a great mixture of everything that is James Bond - tons of action, lots of gadgets, sexy women, great villains, and it's a great game, sure to please any Bond fan.
In Everything or Nothing, James Bond is, as usual charged with saving the world, this time from an Ex-KGB agent, named Nikolai Diavolo. Diavolo worked for Max Zorin, who was played by Christopher Walken in the 80's Bond flick, A View to a Kill. Nikolai wants to use some newly discovered nanotechnology for nefarious purposes, and along with the classic villain, Jaws, he's quite a formidable foe for 007. To be honest, the story, which was written by the same guy that wrote the last few Bond movies, isn't that interesting. It's certainly better than the usual half-hearted story that developers come up with, but if you've seen Tomorrow Never Dies and The World is not Enough, you'll know that Bruce Feirstein might not be the guy you want to tap for a great James Bond story.
This time around, EA has abandoned the classic first person view that has been a franchise trademark, and changed it to a third person view. While this is a huge change, it works wonderfully, and it really allows you to take command of the large arsenal of moves that Bond has. It comes off feeling like a cross between Metal Gear and Splinter Cell, which is certainly not a bad thing. Much of the gameplay focuses on hiding behind cover, locking on a target, and then popping out and firing away. The controls for this are a little confusing at first, as you have to be quick with the shoulder buttons, but after an hour of play, it becomes second nature and works quite well. There is also some stealth required, or at the very least, it's encouraged; and sneaking up on guards and rendering them unconscious is as easy as walking up behind them undetected and hitting the X button. There are also several driving levels featuring a Porsche and a motorcycle, which make great use of the Need for Speed engine. The action's not limited to the ground, however, as early in the game you'll find yourself taking to the skies in a helicopter, desperately trying not to let a villain get away.
The game's multi-player is a far cry from the addicting action of GoldenEye, but the co-op play is fun. PS2 owners can play together online, and using voice chat, they can communicate to solve the levels together. It's good to see EA put some thought into their online component of a game, as most of their online functionality usually feels tacked on (NFS: Hot Pursuit) and it rarely promotes communication between the people playing together. For those of you that want to shoot at their buddies, there is an arena mode, though it doesn't work that well in the third person perspective.
As usual, Bond has numerous gadgets at his disposal, the two most notable are the Q-Spider, which is a small robotic spider that can get to places that Bond can't, and there's a sweet rappel function as well. One of the neatest things about the rappel feature is that it's automatic if you jump off a ledge. This means you'll be making some awesome leaps of faith off of tall buildings, and if you're good, you can whip out your gun and take out some bad guys on the way down. The weapon select feature, which is mapped to the digital control pad, could have been streamlined a bit, because as it stands now, it's one of the few things that can interrupt the great gameplay. This is mostly an issue on the levels where you have to use your rappel gun to go upwards. You have to select the item by hitting right on the digital pad four times, aim, and then fire. It's not terribly difficult, but when you can rappel down so smoothly, it's weird that it's so tedious to go up.
Since Electronic Arts is the company behind James Bond, you'd expect nothing but a top notch presentation of James Bond, and they don't disappoint. From the great opening credit scene to the incredible looking face scanning in the game, there's rarely a moment where it the game doesn't look like a Bond Film. The character movements are fantastic, there are plenty of giant explosions, and there are many situations where the environment is affected by the action on screen, which goes a long way in immersing you in the game's story. Widescreen is also supported, and it really lends itself to a game like this that feels so much like a movie. For some reason, once you select widescreen and save a game, it doesn't seem possible to go back and change it, which means you're going to be stuck with tall skinny characters if you ever play on a normal 4:3 television.
Everything or Nothing's voice acting is right up there with Lord of the Rings as far as the quality of voice acting in the game goes. Pierce Brosnan is James bond, Willem Dafoe is Bond's new nemesis, Nikolai Diavolo, John Cleese is "Q", and Judi Dench is "M". If that weren't enough, Richard Kiel returns as Jaws, Shannon Elizabeth is the Bond girl Serena St. Germaine, Mya appears as agent Starling, and Heidi Klum as Katya Nadanova. Sure, some of the dialog is corny, but with every Bond series actor lending their voice to the movie, it really rounds out the whole list of things you need to make a good Bond game. Mya provides an original song for the game, and while it's certainly not a classic, when you consider it's an original Bond song, created just for a video game, it seems a little cooler. Sean Callery, who does the music for the television series 24, does the game's soundtrack, and it sounds like it was ripped straight out of a previous 007 movie.
If you haven't guessed by now, Everything or Nothing looks, sounds, and feels just like a James Bond movie. The action is fast-paced, the cars are cool, the women are sexy, and the villains are hell bent on ruing the world - there's really nothing else you could ask for. The game can be a little easy at times, and the short levels hurt the flow of the game, but if you've been a fan of 007 on the big screen or on a console, you won't be disappointed by his latest outing.
3/31/2004 Aaron Thomas