|System: X360, PS3, PC, Wii, PS2, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Treyarch||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 4, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-12||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jason Lauritzen
July 2, 2008 - Think back to the last set of Bond movies - the batch starring Pierce Brosnan. There were four in total, yet most people remember the very first one - "GoldenEye" - as the best entry. By 2002's "Die Another Day," the series resembled a train wreck: you had a cliché bad guy living in an ice castle who controlled a giant space laser with the help of a gadget that looked like an over-sized Nintendo Power Glove. Oh, and don't forget Bond's car - it turned invisible and could drive on ice.
If you look at the video game side of the Bond coin during that time, it's strikingly similar. GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64 was not only a terrific counterpart to its movie sibling; it was a flat-out, fun game. Continue down the Bond video game timeline and you'll find your memories not so warm and fuzzy. Electronic Arts picked up the Bond license and released eight (mostly) below average entries - titles you don't hear gamers talk about with any kind of fondness.
So, with history as a guide, should we be worried about the new Bond game? Well, there are some details that should make gamers pause. For one, Electronic Arts isn't at the helm anymore. Activision is stepping up to the publishing plate and Treyarch is front-and-center as the developer. Plus, there's a change in source material. True, this a Bond game, but it's not Pierce Brosnan's Bond - the one who never seemed to run out of one-liners, gadgets, and girls. Instead, the developers are staying current and going with Daniel Craig's rendition. Yes, this could be interpreted as a way to cash-in with a movie tie-in, but Treyarch claims the new Bond works better from a story standpoint. "He's still a bit raw. M refers to him as a blunt instrument," says Executive Producer Garrett Young.
During our recent trip out to Treyarch in Santa Monica, California, the developer walked us through three levels. Upon release, the game will feature a 50-50 mix of levels inspired by locations and scenes from "Casino Royale" and the anticipated "Quantum of Solace." Since the new movie doesn't release till November, Treyarch limited its demo levels to scenes inspired from "Casino Royale."
Those who saw "Casino Royale" should remember the scene near the end where the Venice house floods and collapses. Treyarch fleshed out that pivotal point in the movie and used it as a jumping off point to demonstrate their work. The level started with Bond in first person, clutching a familiar weapon - the silenced PP7. As Bond got close to a bad guy, he bound to a nearby wood box, using it as cover. At this point, the camera pulled out to reveal a third person perspective. Treyarch said it struggled with deciding whether to make the game entirely first or third person. At the end of the day - after polling fans about their preference - they settled on a hybrid approach.
As the level continued, we got a glimpse at the shooter-centered combat. The standard first person shooter mechanics are there, but what was more noticeable were the cover mechanics. Bond cannot only move behind cover, but he can also flip from one piece of cover to another. Also, whenever Bond moves toward cover he sprints and the camera shakes - an obvious nod to the CNN running cam found in Gears of War.