Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Best of Bond: Looking Back at the Greatest Games Featuring 007

This past Friday saw the North American release of Spectre, the 24th James Bond film, in theaters. Not only is the idea of if Daniel Craig will return for a fifth outing as 007 up in the air, but currently so is who owns the license for the video games featuring Ian Fleming's debonair, dashing, and skillful Double-0 agent.

With the new film still fresh on everyone's minds, it only makes sense to think back on some of James Bond's best video game outings with this special article. From obvious favorites to lesser spoken about titles, these games featuring 007 give players a license to kill AND thrill.

GoldenEye 007 (N64)

We start this look back with a game that is without a doubt the most popular game featuring Ian Fleming's super spy, GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64. It was with this game that Rare not only put the Nintendo 64 on the map for first-person shooters, but the studio also made it apparent that FPS games weren't just something that PCs could do exclusively. While the controls are greatly antiquated today (looking at you, C buttons that serve as a second analog stick), the game holds up relatively well for a game that released in 1997. With varied mission objectives, great levels to explore, clever enemy AI, and a masterful multiplayer that was a last minute addition, GoldenEye 007 deserves the acclaim it received back in the day.

The World is Not Enough (N64)

Lovingly called TWINE in some gaming circles, The World is Not Enough was one of EA's first outings with 007, and it very closely leaned towards the foundation laid by Rare's GoldenEye. After all, if the Walther PPK works, why fix it? EA's game offered brilliantly designed missions from a myriad of familiar locales and moments throughout the Pierce Brosnan-starred picture. The multiplayer was also mighty fun, though it didn't reach the same level of popularity as GoldenEye. The multiplayer had a large amount of well designed maps, spots to camp, areas to take cover in, and sported a wide variety of characters to choose from. The World is Not Enough remains a worthy entry to check out for any Bond fan that still has their Nintendo 64 hooked up to a TV.

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

Everything or Nothing is an interesting case, as it not only eschewed the well known and beloved first-person perspective of GoldenEye, a game that every 007 game is measured against to this day, but it featured a wholly original story. Everything or Nothing played as a third-person shooter, offering James Bond, voiced by Pierce Brosnan in his last acting role as the MI6 special agent, the ability to hide behind, use, and leave cover, exercise hand-to-hand combat, and use a variety of compelling gadgets through his mission to stop Nikolai Diavolo, voiced by Willem Dafoe. The mission variety in the game was amazing, much like the missions themselves. You could do 007 moments in each level to make for some really cool set piece sequences that rewarded you for doing them. Outside of traditional missions, players could drive Bond's Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, as seen in Die Another Day. Overall, Everything or Nothing is a tremendous title which has an immense amount of originality, sharp gameplay, and enjoyable multiplayer to make it contest GoldenEye 007 as best Bond game ever.

James Bond 007: From Russia With Love (PS2, GCN, XBX, PC)

Thankfully, after the obvious cash-in on the name GoldenEye with the less-than-excellent GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, EA's last offering featuring James Bond was From Russia With Love, an inspired entry in the 007 line of games. After development and marketing was complete, Activision took the James Bond video game license over. Nonetheless, what a way for EA to cap off its work with the license by getting Sean Connery to return to the role of 007 after over two decades, incorporating both his voice and early likeness. This third-person shooter followed the story of the 1957 novel by Ian Fleming and the 1963 movie of the same name, only changing a few things like added scenes for more action for the player and the removal of criminal organization SPECTRE, changed to OCTOPUS for the game. While From Russia With Love does not hit the same highs as Everything or Nothing, it does tickle one's nostalgia for classic Bond and give players a healthy helping of solid action gameplay.

007: Quantum of Solace (PS3, 360, PC)

We'll be delving into the HD versions of 007: Quantum of Solace for this entry on the list of best Bond games. Quantum of Solace was the second movie in the Bond series that had Daniel Craig in the lead role, but it was the first game that Activision released with the Bond license in hand. The game was a first-person shooter that let players play through missions throughout both Casino Royale, Daniel Craig's first starring role as James Bond, and Quantum of Solace. Not only were the missions well designed, but the gameplay was quite excellent too, using the Call of Duty 4 engine, which excited some while putting off others. SuperPhillip Central's stance is that the overall game is an excellent one, though it doesn't rival the best the James Bond license has seen, it is quite good regardless. The online multiplayer had numerous modes to participate in, earning players credits to boost their arsenal of weapons and gadgets in true Call of Duty style.

James Bond 007: Blood Stone (PS3, 360, PC)

With EA's Everything or Nothing, an original story was made specifically for a video game starring the cast of the James Bond movies at the time. Activision opted to go for this approach with Bizarre Creations' James Bond 007: Blood Stone. Here, another new story was penned specifically for this video game, and voice talents Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, and Joss Stone lent their voices to the game. Featuring a compelling story, fantastic third-person shooter gameplay, and an agents versus mercenaries multiplayer mode, Blood Stone had everything for the Bond fan looking for a highly capable new game to enjoy. Perhaps the only negative outside of some rough patches in the game is that the story will never see a proper conclusion, as the developer was shut down by Activision soon after the development of the game was complete. Thus, we have a cliffhanger that will never be solved, especially as the Bond video game license is not in Activision's hands anymore.

GoldenEye 007 (Wii, PS3, 360)

Announced at Nintendo's 2010 E3 press conference, GoldenEye 007 got the remake treatment with plenty of updates. A sampling of some of these include Daniel Craig as James Bond, levels and pieces of story redesigned to make sense for Craig's version of Bond, destructible environments, a mobile phone instead of a watch being used to contact MI6, take photos, and so forth; regenerating health, updated AI, and yes, online multiplayer. The Wii and PS3 versions are the preferred way to play GoldenEye 007 (known as GoldenEye 007: Reloaded on PS3 and Xbox 360) as they offer IR aiming to make for better precision and, depending on who you talk to, more fun aiming than what dual analog allows. GoldenEye 007's 2010 outing brought a lot of good memories of the Nintendo 64 classic while offering plenty of new content and updates to make it feel fresh and worthy of playing in this century.

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