The first James Bond game came out in 1983 on Atari and was called simply James Bond 007. It looked like this:
So yup thatís the first game, nothing to wet your Queenís panties over. Thereís been quite a lot of Bond games, most youíve probably never heard of, but for nearly every film, thereís been a game pairing. Iíve played a handful but will focus on bigger titles. This is not meant to be a brief history of Bond games or a case of how it all declined chronologically. No this is just about how it went pretty damn good here and there, but shockingly uninspiring to down right shoddy everywhere else.
M Ė If you think for one moment I don't have the balls to send a man out to die, your instincts are dead wrong. And so, did game developers send the Bond video games out to die.
Just to give you a little back story on myself and my relationship with Bond (not in that way you dirty people). I am a mahoosive fan of the James Bond franchise. I can name you the directors, actors, cars, gadgets and obscure data and I could do that from when I was a one digit age. Earlier articles by me will tell you that I was limited in my methods of gaming, mainly demos sustained me so, when it comes to delving into 007 games, my first time (emotional tender moment here) came when I rented the Nintendo 64 out for 3 days from our local video store and with it Goldeneye (and Banjo Kazooie).
So itís fitting that Goldeneye was my first Bond game, so I can shoo that elephant out of the room.
"Lol whatever, I'm just chilling"
Goldeneye was a stellar game, it was great fun as a shooter but it also adequately followed the film of the same title (almost scene for scene) and it made you feel like you were Bond. I remember when you got to the end of the first level and being impressed that just walking off the edge of the dam, lead to a scene where I was actually bungee jumping off it. The little touches like creeping from above on an unsuspecting Russian soldier as he had an innocent tinkle in the toilet, the music and the feeling of using the Walter PPK were all very cool and very Bond.
The game would go one to be mentioned until the end of time and then some. It would be included in many gaming lists and as a point of reference. It would be talked about as if it was still a great game that had aged well and so inevitably a remake was on the cards. Iíll talk about that in a second, but I just want to get this out of the way. We didnít need a Goldeneye remake, least the one we got and we certainly did not need as many as they brought to the fold in such a short period of time. The Goldeneye games that came out last year could have been titled as such but they were skimming the spiritual tribute tagline.
Now this might just be me, but there are a few reasons why they shouldnít have called the remakes Goldeneye or even labelled them as remakes.
1. Itís a very different feel of a game
2. Daniel Craig.
Daniel Craig will crop up later on in terms of cons regarding 007 games. I personally never felt he was a Bond Bond and I realise Iím in the minority. But weíll leave that for now.
It was a while then before I played any Bond games, Iíd say a few years. James Bond came out on Gameboy and it took me a while to actually purchase it. It was a fun enough game, given it was on the Gameboy and my last experience was a 3D interactive game. Another sabbatical followed and then things started to get better in terms of playing games as my beloved 007. An Xbox came into my life and a copy of Nightfire. Given typical Irish poverty (which is nonsense, but lets pretend for a while), I had only that game and a few Xbox launch freebies. So Nightfire got a lot of replays out of me, no really, A LOT OF REPLAYING HAPPEN. I could nearly play that game blindfolded.
Nightfire is an entirely new story and uses the Pierce Brosnan Bond, yet for some reason doesnít quite get his voice right. Which is peculiar because Agent Under Fire came out and used a generic strong jawed, dark haired handsome face, but had a voice closer to Brosnan.
Personally I find that Nightfire is a game that can still be played today and the graphics hold up.
I also find that as Iíve been playing 007:Legends lately, I want nothing more than to pop Nightfire in because it looks better and plays better than this rushed together scrapbook tribute to the Bond series and Nightfire came out many moons ago. Nightfire had fun gadgets, decent gunplay and the element of surprise could be implemented. It also had really fun driving segments, bringing the beautiful Aston Martin Vanquish into the gaming realm and letting you control it quite fluidly. I have to say (while it might be saying much) the best fun in terms of driving games or sections ever was in Nightfire.
The game also featured variety in its levels and quite satisfactory sniper levels. In fact an entire level requires you to be snipey Mc Snipster throughout in order to not die too soon and to achieve Platinum.
So thatís the last game I can remember where I found it to be pretty damn good and also a fitting entry to proper James Bond games.
Not to imply that it gets bleaker from here, just a heads up.
Agent Under Fire was the next purchase I made (well my mum did, pfft) and it was still a fun game but for some reason didnít extract a well of love from me like Nightfire did. It included many similar gadgets and levels that could be tackled with different techniques and yet you didnít feel half as bothered to put effort in. There was a stronger sense of reward from sneaking around in the previous game, where as you could go in guns a blazing in AUF. Hmmm sounds like the noise I make when I accidently crash my crotch into a table or something. ďAuffffffĒ
There was something sillier about this game, the main villain had a flattened beehive and wore a green leotard. Which is fine, plenty of Bond films had some ridiculous characters, fashion and stories. The game would throw in scenes that Iím sure were meant as homageís even though it wasnít necessary
Overall it wasnít a bad game and I did replay it a few times, I think there were some secrets to find and it adopted the same reward plaques of Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. But there was something inferior about it, in comparison to Nightfire that I couldnít quite put my finger on.
Next was a game I was initially worried about, for some reason my younger mind found the idea of change horrifying and couldnít see how a 3rd person Bond game would work. Still not sure how to rationalise such a stubborn point of view, but needless to say any worries were quashed. Everything or Nothing came out and you know what, it was pretty damn great. It was also extremely underrated. While I mentioned above that Goldeneye and Nightfire managed to feel like proper secret agent games, Everything or Nothing seemed to upgrade everything slightly and still feel like it was offering something extra to really ground that notion.
First was the intro music. Now the games that came before would have their own attempts at an individual Bond score, but for the most part, the games just used the 007 theme. Everything or Nothing boosted everything with a song sung by Mya that for me was catchy and ashamedly or not, Iíll admit I downloaded it. The game introduced Judi Dench as M which made my fangirl loins burn. Hey Judi Dench is awesome. The 3rd person element worked quite well, the driving segments werenít as fluid or great, especially the Vanquish ones, but the motorbike sections were well designed and the cutscenes and action shots made it all very cool and modern, I suppose.
Yes James, punch Jaws lightly on the side of his chest, thatís how to defeat him
Everything or Nothing was a stand alone game and yet managed to pay respects to the Bond films of the past a lot more than 007:Legends, a game that was made with that very intent. Level variety, game play variety, villains that had traits of film villains and fast aim take outs ect all meshed well together. The game was a success in my eyes and thatís where it all kinda stalls in a much more evident manner. From here we donít slope downhill immediately, but nevertheless we slope and nothing came out that topped Everything or Nothing. You might disagree but letís look at what happened.
From Russia with Love. The only good thing about that game was that it had Conneryís Bond in it. Everything else was just clunky. Yeah you got to wear and use the jetpack, but thatís not enough to sustain the rest of the games flaws.
Rogue Agent came out on handheld consoles and it was a decent shooter, but it thatís all that can really be said. A decent shooter, is not the words we want. With time things should get better or improve and the essence of a Bond game should be utilised if you donít want to make a generic shooter but you do want to produce something that fits within a theme or franchise.
Then what do we have? We have the era of Craig.
Casino Royale didnít have a game, Quantum of Solace was the first Craig game, followed by Bloodstone and then those blooming Goldeneye Ďremakesí. Now the latest is 007:Legends and justÖforgive me for using such unprofessional language but ugh, garrhh, fleh.
Quantum of Solace and Bloodstone was pretty similar. Bloodstone featured whatsherface, who also did the theme score. Craigís likeness became the only likeness that was apparently left in the bank for any game that had James Bond in the title. They were alright games, you played them, finished them and I highly doubt many of you that went through that process, repeated it, I know I didnít. Not out of spite, but just the job was done.
Goldeneye (Reloaded) came out and instead of using Brosnanís likeness (which I canít believe he would have refused) they decided to stick with Craigís. Perhaps they thought weíd be confused, perhaps there was some sort of underground protest against the notion of using the animated face of the person who was in the original game and the film. Having the new Bond, changing the faces of everyone so completely (Poor Sean Bean dies not only in body in most things he stars in, but in computerised spirit) and the other little niggles is for me what negated the notion of tribute, sequel or remake.
To be fair it would have been ok if they just release it on the Wii and left it
Now weíll wrap it up on a slightly sour, betrayed note. Because thatís more refreshing isnít it.
007: Legends makes me sad in the chest. This game is made up, feebly, of levels based on choice selected films from the entire series and they is not connecting story at all. While some of the choices of films are odd, that may come down to personal obsessive fan girl preferences, but I think they just wanted to get as a film designed for each actor that played Bond. Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton and Brosnan.
These are the 007ís you need
So naturally if you want to pick films with those actors and really relive the experience, obviously you should completely hash it up by using only one face and voice for the entirety of the game and it the wrong one each time. Even the intro song and visualisation for the game is pathetic and you can tell they just got someone to quickly shoop it together on windows movie maker a few hours before shipping. You get some slow pans of the villains from each film, with a dull blue watery background. Then I think Iím hearing what might be a mash up of the songs from each film woven together, but no they just mainly use Goldfinger. Yeah itís a staple awesome theme, but License to Kill, Moonraker and On Her Majestyís Secret Service are pretty amazing too. Yes I neglected to add Die Another Day to that listÖdo you really want to go there?
The game play is lacklustre and the aiming is rubbish. As in I could aim at a crate beside an enemy and somehow it reacts as if I got a perfect headshot. Thereís no real want to linger too long in any level, thereís no real sense of looking around and reliving the elements of the films weíve watched and enjoyed, because theyíre not represented well or sometimes at all. Wasted characters, wasted game play and just a wasted game. I donít play that game with a hint of joy on my face. Itís either indifference or glumness youíll see sprawled across my mug. I just want it to be over and then forgotten about.
I donít have an answer for where everything went wrong, I can only say that they had the right formula a few years ago and through laziness and just not thinking about what they were doing, developers started to botch up what could be brilliant games and proper reflections of the secret agent world weíve seen from the Broccoli family. Oh how I wish one of them had married someone called Carrot. Itís not a difficult thing to get right, thatís evident. But with most things, itís easy to get wrong and in some cases so wrong. Youíre catering to the themes, scenes, and elements that have been handed to you, spoon-fed and all you have to do is make those elements interactive and fit the right face and scene.
So naturally doing the complete opposite is considered a win? StopÖjust stahp!
And so with that, a final sentiment from M, that some of us can relate too.