Friday, February 15, 2013

James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing (PS2, GCN, XBX) Retro Review

We end the work week with a brand-new retro review. The 23rd installment of the James Bond franchise, Skyfall, infiltrated the retail space this past week, and now you can bring the action and fun of the film to your home. To commemorate the occasion, SuperPhillip Central is taking a look at one of the better James Bond video games out there, James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing.

After "Eons" of Waiting, A Truly 
Great Original Bond Game.

I was born in 1986, so my first introduction to the James Bond character was Pierce Brosnan's interpretation in GoldenEye. It's no coincidence that I share a great amount of admiration for both that movie and that iteration of Bond, even with all of that version's puns and double entendres. Heck, I even enjoyed (but to a much lesser extent) Die Another Day. Regardless, when Electronic Arts set out to make a James Bond game, they contacted a collection of Hollywood talent, such as Mr. Brosnan, Willem Dafoe, Shannon Elizabeth, and Heidi Klum, to create their vision. The end result is James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing, and it is one of the few original Bond games worth making note of.

The plot of Everything or Nothing centers around Max Zorin apprentice Nikolai Diavolo's desire for world domination through the use of stolen nano-bot technology. Yeah, it's a little hard to imagine and take seriously, especially with some of the hammy and dull performances, but it's still an enjoyable plot, However, if you're expecting anything more than a tad above average, then you will be more than disappointed.

Everything or Nothing is comprised of 27 unique missions, split up between various gameplay styles, such as stealth, run-and-gun shooting, gadgetry, and driving. There is a fantastic variety that keeps players going from one style to the next. The pacing is near pefect.

Most missions play out in a third-person shooter fashion. Bond can take it slow and methodical, or go in guns blazing. Of course, on later difficulties, being meticulous in a mission like James Bond really would act is usually better than going in guns blazing a la Rambo. Different difficulties task Bond with more or less objectives to complete. Levels generally have plenty of places for cover, as well as plenty of spots for small cases of exploration and discovery.

Use the environment to your advantage.
00 agents are known well for their smooth entrances and accurate shots. Bond is no different, but if a player wants to make 007 look like James Bond 007 and not Agent 99 from Get Smart, then they will need to have a grasp of the controls. Thankfully, Everything or Nothing features rather tight controls for precision aiming and up close and personal fisticuffs. Auto-aim allows players to lock onto targets, but it won't do all the work. It will just aim in the general direction of a foe. Bond needs to manually aim to pick off targets that hide behind cover, and occasionally peek out to fire at him.

Even when taking a trip to the ruins,
007 dresses for success.
When guns simply won't do (i.e. an enemy is too close for comfort), hand-to-hand combat is the appropriate solution. 007 can punch, throw, and even counter foes. After all, even a proper servant for Her Majesty's government needs to get his hands dirty once in a while.

Sometimes you have to let your
foot do the talking.
Stealth is key for a 00 agent as well, and Bond has the moves to make for silent but deadly assaults. He can hug walls and slowly pick off foes around corners. He is able to crouch behind cover in the form of crates, couches, chairs, and so on. Superb stealth is rewarded by making missions that would otherwise be quite challenging less so.

Another big type of gameplay in Everything or Nothing has 007 and the player entering the driver's seat in James's Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, which is the same car he drove in Die Another Day, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, and for motorcycle enthusiasts, the Triumph Daytona 600. Seeing as the driving engine for Everything or Nothing was an evolved form of the one from the Need for Speed series, it is probably not necessary to say the physics and controls are incredibly well done. One really feels in control of each vehicle.

There are two types of vehicle missions. One has Bond moving through a quasi-linear path, avoiding or destroying enemy vehicles, jumping off ramps, and evading hazards. The other is less stressful (but the stress is fun in the aforementioned mission type). It puts Bond in a miniature open world where he needs to move from destination to destination to satisfy the conditions of his objectives and his overall mission.

Vehicle missions break things up quite a bit.
Regardless, Bond doesn't have to rely on his own expertise for each mission. Q, played by John Cleese, always has the electronic goods to give 007, a mass array of clever gadgetry to aid Bond throughout his mission. From grenades under the guise of innocent-looking coins to special glasses that allow James to see enemies in the dark, to a small spiderbot that is remote controlled and can crawl through narrow spaces and be detonated, 007 has plenty of help via Q's gadgets. Just like with weapons, when the player is cycling through gadgets, James enters Bond Sense mode where everything slows down for him to select an appropriate choice from out of his inventory.

Each level has its own set of optional Bond moments that can be completed. These are cool little things the player can perform during a given level-- actions that Bond would probably perform himself in his various films. These moments can be as simple as going through parts of a level undetected or finding a secret area; or they can be more exciting activities such as blowing up a fireworks factory with a controlled RC car explosion, killing an enemy during free-fall, destroying a gate with the aid of a tank, and so forth. Completing Bond moments helps to aid the player's overall score for the current level they are in.

Rappel down the building in style.
After a mission is beaten, the player's score is tabulated. The points awarded have to do with how many Bond moments were performed, number of foes defeated, weapon accuracy, weapon efficiency, and how fast you completed the mission. Depending on what difficulty is selected, there will be a score multiplier. Earning the target amount of points earns a gold medal that unlocks new content, like multiplayer characters and production stills.

Furthermore, once a gold medal has been acquired, one can take Bond into the mission all over again and try to beat it under the target time, earning them a platinum medal, then. Platinum medals go towards unlocking cheats such as having all weapons available to Bond at once, double the amount of ammo, and double damage.

Time for a dramatic escape.
As alluded to by the unlockable multiplayer characters, there are modes for more than one person to play the game. One is a cooperative set of missions, totally apart from the main game, as well as an arena mode for up to four players. Unfortunately, the latter mode needs to be unlocked.

Everything or Nothing boasts big blockbuster production values on the cast alone, and EA did a sensational job of capturing that Bond feeling with this game. The main cast is hit or miss in the performance department with some feeling like they just did the game to collect a paycheck, but that Bond feeling is still present. During the occasional cutscene, things look particularly grainy, giving the EON a cheap look at time. Regardless, on most moments, Everything or Nothing is impressive. When speaking of the gameplay, the framerate is generally smooth.

Typically, EON still looks good.
James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing may not be the best Bond game ever, but it was a significant step forward for the franchise as a game series. It's a shame that EA lost the rights to make 007 games to Activision, as it would have been nice to see more original stories. (I'm meaning more like Everything or Nothing and less like GoldenEye: Rogue Agent.) If you are a Bond fan, then Everything or Nothing is an obvious must-have. It feels like Bond, it plays like Bond, and like the golden gun, it's quite the prize.

[SPC Says: 8.5/10]

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