XBOX REVIEW: FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

Bond fans will delight when they play From Russia With Love, while hardcore gamers will claim it's too light. I can sympathize with both groups since I love all things Bond and have played more games than I care to remember. To be able to combine my passion for Bond and my love for gaming is a dream come true. Or is it in reality, a nightmare? Read on my pretties and find out for yourselves.

From Russia With Love is a revisiting of the original 60s classic Bond movie of the same name. It follows the plot almost exactly although some new missions and features have been added to make it longer than an hour-and-a-half. Like the original movie, this game also features the talents of Sean Connery who provides his voice exclusively for this game; the voiceovers are not taken from the movie.

In an effort to appeal to a wide range of gamers the gameplay is less than difficult. It's a lot less than difficult but it's not so much challenging as it is meant to be entertaining. Do I have to bring up the phrase "interactive movie" again?

Inspired by events of the Cold War, the gameplay features various cloak and dagger activities such as stealth, spying, puzzle solving, gadgets, vehicle racing and shooting. There are also some RPG elements that allow you to level-up weapons and gadgets. You can make them more powerful and more accurate by purchasing upgrades with points that you acquire from locating secret documents and other goodies. The gadgets are as fun to use in the game as they are to watch being used in the movies.

Using guns presents a bit of a problem. They don't feel comfortable in fact they are a little awkward to aim in some situations. You have to use a dual button system to shoot. One button to aim and the other to fire. It takes a lot of getting used to especially if you're a dyed-in-the-wool first-person-shooter. Once you're in the middle of a huge shoot out it's not a problem but when you get caught by surprise the two button system just doesn't come naturally.

Vehicles such as cars and boats are used primarily for racing. They are cumbersome to control and subsequently not a lot of fun. The jetpacks are another story. These should be used in more games. They really add much-needed dimension to the gameplay. They are relatively easy to control and move about with great fluidity. You can reach different levels and continue to shoot at enemies while flying around.

If you just want to get through the game you can probably finish it in a day. If you want to uncover all the unlockables it will take about twice as long. There are lots of bonus features to find such as the making of the game, Bond girls and extra challenge missions.

Up to four players can take part in the multi-player modes which feature variations of Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. These modes use the split-screen since there is no online play. The graphics take a nose dive and the framerate is cut in half. Even in the single-player mode the animation is a little stiff and jerky although the facial renderings and expressions are top shelf. When words come out of Bond's mouth you listen, even though some of the lines would embarrass Sylvester Stallone. It's always a treat to hear the James Bond theme so make sure you crank up the power amp.

Unless I'm wrong, but I'm usually not, we are witnessing the death of the movie industry as we know it. The future generations will be amazed to learn that we used to watch movies and didn't play them. From Russia With Love may not be unique in many gameplay respects but its accessibility is certain to help shape the future of entertainment.

Preview by Aaron
You have seen the movie, perhaps many times over, but you have never gotten to relive the movie in a totally interactive way. Now is your chance to do so. In EA's new Bond game, you take the role of Sean Connery (truly, the Bond in this game is a 3-d rendering of Sir. Connery himself) and become the greatest Bond of all time.

In this installment, the game will run on only one game engine, unlike the Bond Game "Everything or Nothing" which ran on two engines, one for shooting, and one for driving. This should make the transition between driving missions and other missions easier and perhaps make the game more enjoyable overall. With one engine running the whole game, you wont have to get used to little tweaks for multiple stages, allowing the creators to up the difficulty, adding to the overall experience in From Russia With Love.

In screens I have seen, Bond can be seen fighting on the Oriental Express, a gypsy fight, and be involved in a high-speed boat chase. Whether these will be playable or a movie sequence is unknown, but it is comforting to know that our favorite parts of the movie will be in there.

Keeping with the era the movie is set, the vehicles and guns in From Russia With Love will all be from the 50's and 60's. This means the cars wont be quite as fast, and the guns wont be as powerful as the ones found in the other Bond games. This also means the gadgets wont be as sexy as we have become accustomed to, as they will be bulkier and less smooth. Even though the small gadgets will be missed, these ones will have the potential to be even cooler than those, because they will make you use you ingenuity more than you would have previously.

The guards in this installment will be much smarter than any other Bond game you are playing right now. Instead of having five guards come at you head on, they might split up and flank you, or they may call for backup and try to overwhelm you. Another notable improvement is the fact that there are now more than just one set of goons to fight. Now you may face up to 10 different looking bad guys at any given moment.

Keeping with Bond tradition, you can decide o sneak your way through every single level or you can gun your way out into the open and look for a challenge from every guard. How you take the level will not affect the story, but it will affect how cool you look to your friends. You can be the suave Bond who walks into a room and kills every guard with 4 shots, the Solid Snake and sneak past them all, or you can walk in all Rambo-like and blast them all away with everything you have.

The final fight in the movie between James Bond and the villain, Klebb was all centered around Bond defeating an enemy with a switchblade boot. This wouldn't make a very good final fight in a Bond game, so we can expect more to go along with it. Perhaps Klebb will pull out a golden gun and then launch a spacecraft to fight Bond on mars with, but I highly doubt it, it will probably be more along the lines of Klebb will "get a gun".

Since the movie is so old, many of the actors are either retired or have passed away. This creates a problem for EA, because voice actors are one element that makes fans think, "This is just like the movie". EA is going to use the voice actors that are available, but for the holes they will hire new talent for the job. Hopefully they wont make a major mistake in picking this "new talent" You can certainly expect Sir. Sean along for the ride though; he has went on record saying this is his last acting job.

While Bond is always the smooth walker, and the smooth talker, we can only speculate how smooth this game will be. Being the greatest Bond of all-time is a safe bet for EA, but unless they do it right, this game could flop. We can only hope that Bond will come out of the fog of war just as smooth as he ever has been. On November 1, we will find out how this Bond has aged over the years.

Features:

  • Build your own Bond, based on Sean Connery, in a retro, 1960s Cold War era setting.
  • A breathing, vibrant, living 1960's-styled world including classic cars, architecture, fashion, and exotic locations
  • Bleeding edge Hollywood production.
    Innovative gameplay, wider variety, non-linear missions, introduction of new focus/zoom function.
  • Addictive and social multiplayer experience
  • RPG elements: Invest in your character by equipping, upgrading, scoring/rewards
  • Intense action, driving, jetpack and stealth missions.
  • Game features movie-based missions as well as original, action-intensive sequences
  • Fully integrated vehicles, over a dozen weapons, and classic gadgetry with modern mechanics.
Preview by Staff

Electronic Arts today announced the latest installment in the widely successful James Bond videogame franchise, From Russia With Love, starring Academy Award-winner, Sir Sean Connery. The highly anticipated game is scheduled to ship this fall on the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox video game system from Microsoft, and the Nintendo GameCube under the EA GAMES brand.

From Russia With Love, the game, will be based on the classic Bond film but will also feature some new plot twists, gadgets and characters. Sir Sean Connery, appearing in his first-ever videogame, lent his voice and likeness to the project.

“As an artist, I see this as another way to explore the creative process,” said Connery. “Video games are an extremely popular form of entertainment today, and I am looking to seeing how it all fits together.”

Officially licensed by MGM Interactive, From Russia With Love is being developed by EA’s Redwood Shores, Calif. studio. This game has not yet been rated by the ESRB.

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System: PS2, GC, X
Dev: EA
Pub: EA
Release: Nov 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review by StewXX
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
3.0
MUSIC/FX
3.5
VALUE
2.5