PS2 REVIEW: 007: EVERYTHING OR NOTHING

It may not seem like it, but it's been seven years since Rare's GoldenEye rocked everyone's world. GoldenEye's significance in the gaming world cannot be ignored - it was and still is one of the benchmarks of a licensed game in which others are judged. While EA's recent 007 games have come close, the first person perspective was a constant reminder of the golden days of Bond on the N64 and perhaps it's the switch to the third person perspective which has made the difference here. It could be that or it could simply be that this is one of the best action games to be released in a long while, with or without the Bond license, Hollywood likenesses and voice talent along for the ride. Everything or Nothing is a fantastic, big budget title that just took licensed games to an all new level.

Bond fans smitten with his FPS adventures will either have to adjust their thinking or perhaps erase the bitter aftertaste of EA's PSone debacle, Tomorrow Never Dies. EoN goes to lengths to separate itself from any Bond game before it, and it succeeds time and time again. The production values are second to none thanks to Brosnan and company lending their voices and likenesses to the game, which along with the insane driving sequences, Bond Moments (more on that in a moment) and intense action make EoN by far the most immersive Bond game ever. No really. EVER. Hell, you might as well say it's the best Bond too while you're at it.

The gameplay is separated into action and driving sequences, much like the previous games Agent Under Fire and Nightfire. Where the differences end is the third person perspective. I like seeing Bond and I much prefer this perspective when playing an action game. Nothing against FPS which I enjoy, but I hate playing as someone's arm when I'm trying to identify with that particular character. EoN goes that extra mile to immerse you into the world of international intrigue and suspense by giving you over the top megalomaniacs and mindblowing gadgets to help you defeat evil.

The game's overall success can be directly tied to the feeling that not only are outnumbered, not only is everything blowing up around you but for whatever reason, you think the odds are in your favor. You have to love a game that makes you feel like a hero without punishing you for trying inventive new tactics and brazen heroics. EoN allows you the freedom to save the world as you see fit - there is usually a few different ways to arrive at the same end result and it's this level of openess that is intoxicating the first time you play the game through. Actually it never gets old throughout the game. You'll probably WANT to die just to try something completely cool. I know I did more than a few times and more often than not I was justly rewarded for thinking outside the box. Perhaps it was the cool secret weapon I located or the satisfaction of knowing I found a way to take out 5 guys without breaking a sweat; in any event EoN is a blast because it holds a secret formula that some games just don't have. That secret formula? It's filled with sequences and events that make you love playing games in the first place.

As in previous games budding MI agents can select their level of difficulty. Once you finish a level, you'll have the opportunity to continue on or replay the level, trying to improve upon your score or by selecting a higher level of difficulty. Playing on the 00 Agent is pretty intense due to harder enemies, more damage etc. However the rewards are great for those who wish to take it up a notch and succeed in opening up the Platinum objective. The objectives can range anywhere from not taking any damage to completing a level under a certain time limit. Once completed, you will be rewarded with a push button cheat code that can be entered on the pause menu. It should be noted that you cannot just enter these codes off the net; you'll have to earn them in the game yourself otherwise they won't work (see our cheat section for details). Those looking for a challenge will delight in the Platinum Objectives. Some of them are as brutal as unlocking the cheats in GoldenEye.

Controlling Bond has almost never been better. Aside from a camera that tends to force you into looking at Bond most of the time (must be in Brosnan's contract) control is pretty tight and intuitive. Bond can fight with his fists, throw, disarm and counter, crouch, duck for cover and shoot, roll, jump and hug walls. The grapple hook is also a useful tool allowing for movement up and down walls and he can also shoot while connected to his grapple. Q (John Cleese) also pops up now and then and throws Bond a technological bone such as the Q Spiders that are used as offensive and defensive devices - they can crawl through tightspots, survey the situation and even blow things up. Handy. The driving sequences (Triumph motorcycle, Vanquish, Porsche SUV) are equally excellent and in keeping with the design of the on foot missions allow numerous ways to complete your objectives or at the very least, allow you to experiment and try different routes.

Visually EoN is pretty fantastic. While I love the PS2 controller, graphically EoN shines on the Xbox. I haven't cracked into the GC version yet, but I have seen it in action and it looks glossier than the PS2 version but not quite as ploished as the Xbox. All in all though, no matter which system you own, you won't be disappointed and those with a PS2 will obviously get to have some online loving, so no complaining from that sector of the audience.

The cinematics, storyline, voiceacting and general presentation of EoN is really second to none. It IS the closest thing to a movie that I have played. Unlike Rare who only had the Bond License for GoldenEye, EA has a few more years tied in with MGM so expect a few sequels once this one sells like hotcakes. And believe me, it will. It's one of those games where you had better cash in birthday or Christmas presents NOW. Yeah, I know it's only February but you're parents are getting old, right? Maybe come Decemeber they'll forget that they bought you EoN as your 2004 Christmas present...

As mentioned, the PS2 version boasts online play which I wasn't able to get into before deadline of this review. The multiplayer Co-op mode is definitely cool, but if you know me, you know I've never been a big fan of split screen. The PS2 version is the only game that features online play, which really sucks. Why does EA have to be so tight with Sony?

What you've got here is your basic Must Have title and I say that to ALL action fans, not just Bond fanboys. Not only is it dripping with production values, not only are the action sequences intense and the control spot on, but it NEVER stops being fun. With the hefty amount of challenge and unlockables, replay value is also extremely high. I know it's only February, but this one is poised to take one of our best games of 2004. Buy it.

System: PS2
Dev: EA
Pub: EA
Release: Feb 2004
Players: 1 - 4 online
Review by Vaughn
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
5.0
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
5.0
VALUE
5.0