Games time forgot: James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing

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I think last week may have been the second time we’ve ever missed a games time forgot. I think. Don’t quote me on that, but I still thought it was worth mentioning if only because this week, I’m highlighting a game which Dtoider Cowzilla3 has requested no fewer than four times — James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing.

Everything or Nothing isn’t a particularly good game. It’s not even a particularly good Bond game, when compared to Goldeneye. I am, however, inclined to give it this: it definitely feels like a bad Bond film. Its mixture of ridiculously bombastic car chases, complete lack of subtlety, and clever cinematic presentation tonally put this game right down there with The World is Not Enough or Tomorrow Never Dies. 

It’s not a great game, but its dedication to the franchise and varied gameplay makes it a pretty cute, fun diversion. Hit the jump for the lowdown.

Story:

In Pierce Brosnan’s tenth and final portrayal of James Bond (virtual or otherwise), the 00 agent jets around the world to pick up some missing and deadly nanotechnology. The plot is exactly what you’d expect from a lesser Bond film, but the presentation is the star here: Willem Dafoe is the bad guy, Shannon Elizabeth is the Bond girl of choice (she shows up everytime you press pause, in fact — not a bad way to take a break from the game), Judi Dench and John Cleese reprise their roles as M and Q, and Heidi Klum plays a nuclear scientist.

Yeah, the last one didn’t make any sense to me, either. Still, it doesn’t really feel out of place in the overall context of the game; Everything or Nothing‘s main draw is to look and sound just like an interactive Bond movie, and in this respect it succeeds. In addition to the aforementioned big name actors, the game actually includes a trademark Sexy Credit Sequence, a Sexy Theme Song (sung by Mya), and a Sexy Screenwriting Credit by Bruce Feirstein, the dude who wrote Tomorrow Never Dies.

In terms of presentation, the game looks pretty good considering it’s almost half a decade old. I played my copy on a PS2, and, while the level design is often drab, the character models look exactly like whom they’re supposed to represent.

Gameplay:

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First, the bad: Everything or Nothing‘s controls are awful. Maybe I’m just getting better at noticing crappy controller schemes, but every single thing about the EoN interface just pisses me the hell off. To grab someone using hand-to-hand combat, you have to simultaneously hit square and triangle. Square. And triangle. Go ahead and try to hit both those buttons simultaneously with one thumb, without lifting your hand from the controller. It’s goddamn difficult.

Or, how about the fact that equipping gadgets is a really weird process where sometimes you press L1 to use the gadget, while other times you press X? What about the wonky inventory screen? The fact that there’s no real free-aim to speak of? The fact that you can invert the vertical camera controls, but not the goddamn aiming controls? Actually playing Everything or Nothing‘s shooting levels can be an exercise in exquisite frustration.

Beyond that, though, the game can be pretty fun. The story missions flow very nicely into one another; each act of the story is comprised of multiple missions, almost making the game feel like a faithful, licensed adaptation of an existing Bond film. The varied gameplay also helps this cinematic feel, as well as nicely breaking up the action every two or three missions.

For instance, you may start a mission with rappelling level (not quite as fun as you’d assume, but almost), then go into a balls-out shootemup level, then cap the mission off with a driving sequence. Most all the game’s action can be categorized into one of these three types of levels, but they’re spread out and utilized in such a way that the action never really feels stale. While the individual level types have their problems, those flaws are pretty easy to ignore when you take them as part of one big, cohesive experience as the three level types mesh together and play off one another.

Also, you get to meet Jaws. Which is nice.

There’s no substantial multiplayer mode, sadly, but I can’t be too bummed out about that considering the fact that there is (and this has been scientifically proven) no way in Hell that any Bond game could have superior multiplayer to Goldeneye. Ever.

By the by, I’d like to just digress for a moment and point out that, while the lack of freeaim and aim inversion is stupid, I quite like the way games like EoN handle enemy lock-on. You can basically lock onto any enemy, flick the control stick in any direction to change targets (a la Advent Rising), but use smoother movement of the right thumbstick to target specific areas of a baddie’s body. Both The Godfather and 24 adopted this style of lock-on gunplay, and I’m glad; it allows you to quickly lock on to an enemy and fire blindly if you want, but also allows you to aim at particular parts of the body easily if you so desire.

Why you’re probably not playing it:

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Partially because the controls are goddamned abysmal, but mostly because it isn’t Goldeneye. In the pantheon of licensed Bond games, it’s really, really goddamn hard to care about any of them which fail to reach the lofty heights of Rare’s Goldeneye — which is to say, all of them. Goldeneye, while it fell victim to the same Rambo-ized perversion of the Bond franchise that Everything or Nothing is so guilty of, was nearly perfect from a gameplay perspective. Everything or Nothing isn’t.

In a sense, though, that’s kind of a shame: we judge games from two different systems, time periods, and developers against one another simply because they have the same protagonist? Simply because they belong to the same half-decade-old movie franchise? I’ll be the first to admit that I forget any Bond shooters which don’t allow you to shoot Boris Grishenko in the butt, but I wish I didn’t. Everything or Nothing both feels and plays completely different from Goldenye, and I wouldn’t recommend comparing the two.

Just taking Everything or Nothing on its own, you’ll find a halfway decent third person shooter/racing game which, despite its throw-the-controller-against-the-wall frustrating controls, takes a great deal of pleasure in looking like a Bond movie, even if it doesn’t necessarily feel like one.

The upside to that, of course, is the fact that it’s only 100 Goozex points — hardly a big investment.

[All images borrowed from FutureGamez.net.]

Anthony Burch