James Bond: Everything or Nothing

While James Bond has become an action icon on the silver screen, several solid titles have also proven that his legend is just as strong on consoles. “Goldeneye” would become the benchmark by which all Bond games had become measured by and EA has wasted little time in recent years with their own license to kill. Starring the superspy in new missions such as “Agent Under Fire” and “Nightfire”, the next project following the latter was launched with a heavier dose of Hollywood talent to bring the most definitive Bond experience to date, gambling on “Everything or Nothing”.

“Everything or Nothing” is a multiplatform release. The version reviewed below was the one for the Xbox.

“Oh, I Travel… A Sort of Licensed Troubleshooter.”

“Everything or Nothing” starts off with a bang just as the films do, dropping you into the middle of the action crashing a deal while learning the ropes of the game. After surviving with all of your limbs intact, the titles roll as a famous siren sings the opening song just as in the movies. In this case, the voice belongs to Mya who also cameos as one of the many characters that MI6’s best will encounter in the game.

Eventually, you’ll be drawn into a story that revolves around the abduction of a scientist, Dr. Nananova (Heidi Klum) and the nanotechnology that she had been pioneering. At first, it seems to be a simple kidnapping and theft but it soon develops into a conspiracy involving Nikolai Diavolo (Willem Defoe), a former KGB man whose ruthless nature had prompted his former organization to try and eliminate him. He also happened to be the protege of former Bond supervillain, the KGB supported industrialist, Max Zorin (“A View to a Kill”; Christopher Walken).

Finding out what Diavolo is planning and how it relates to a missing scientist is all part of what Bond has to discover as long as he can survive the deathtraps and even deadlier assassins in his way. Assassins such as Jaws (Richard Kiel) who has evidently stopped being a nice guy after seeing him last in “Moonraker” with the mercenary once again hired to do what he does best. Add to that a small army backing Diavolo and the rest of his allies, locales ranging from the dry desert sands of Egypt to the freezing cold of Moscow in winter, and Bond will find himself in a race to stop the Iron Curtain from falling over Russia once again.

“You Only Live Twice, Mr. Bond.”

The production credits read like a who’s who in entertainment. Combined with the well thought out gameplay mechanics, it all comes together to create a remarkable Bond experience for consoles. From Shannon Elizabeth featured on the menu screen and in the game as a “Bond Girl”, to the cut scenes voiced by stars such as Pierce Brosnan and Dame Judi Dench that deliver a story penned by Bond scribe Bruce Fierstein, a great effort has been spent to emulate the feel of the films in just about everything that you can see, hear, and play. Fortunately, for those just looking for some action, the game has quite a bit to entertain those who could care less about the best that MI6 has to offer and are more interested seeing a lot of things explode. The smorgasboard of action ranges from rappling down buildings and shooting your way through an enemy base to racing along at breakneck speeds against traffic in a race to stop the destruction of a city.

Bond’s newest adventure differs from his previous exploits that were done from a first person perpective by placing the player behind the camera in a third person view. While this might come as a shock to Bond fans that had gotten used to seeing the world through the eyes of the agent, the chase camera approach works surprisingly well. It might not feel as if you are in Bond’s shoes by seeing the world from his point of view, but on the positive side it feels a lot more like watching a film with you in control of the agent.

The controls are very easy to master and if the introductory mission doesn’t get your reflexes ready for the action to come, a training mission also follows after your return briefing to MI6. In the training mission, you’ll get to try out all of Bond’s moves including the rappel line that allows him to scale buildings, hand to hand fighting, a Q gadget known as the ‘spider bomb’ which can also act as a remote controlled mobile camera, shooting moves, and what is known as his ‘Bond Sense’. ‘Bond Sense’ is a kind of ‘bullet time standing still’ where Bond ‘senses’ special items or enemies in the area that he can focus on to shoot or gather more information about.

Because of its third person view, targeting is handled using a simple ‘auto targeting’ trigger to help you keep track of your victims. Targeting is handled by facing the enemy and then triggering the automatic lock with the “L” shoulder button and then firing your selected weapon with the “R” button. Additionally, you will be able to use a limited form of manual aiming after locking onto an enemy using one of the sticks to move the aiming ‘dot’ to indicate where you want your shots to go. This will become very useful expecially when trying to send a bullet at the peeking top of an enemy’s head and need that extra precision to make it happen as head shots against the enemy result in their immediate retirement. For the most part, this arrangement works out better than I thought it would although it can get dodgy when multiple foes suddenly rush you.

You also have an arsenal of weapons that you may find on the field or go out into a mission with and these range from a silenced pistol to a rocket launcher that you might use when someone you frustrate decides to just go all out with heavy armor and rockets. But the stars of Bond’s collection of tools are the devices that Q Branch assigns to his tender love and care. These include the previously mentioned Q Spider and rappel line to more exotic devices such as grenades disguised as coins, an optical suit that can lend you a sort of limited invisibility for a few crucial moments, or thermal goggles. Switching between your weapons or your gadgets is handled in a way that helps keep the player in the game. The action onscreen nearly stops cold, a deep blue descending on the scene, as you activate the inventory via D-pad, and then drops you right back into it once you’ve made your choice.

In addition to the action, the game is also peppered with ‘Bond Moments’ which are special instances where you can do something that Bond himself might do. These moments might involve using the rappel to get to your objective from another angle, opening steam vents to distract and blind your foes allowing you the sneak by them, or stopping on your way to spy on the enemy by lending a helping hand to a blissfully unaware bystander waiting for her masseuse. In many cases, finding these ‘Bond Moments’can tip the flow of a firefight in your direction in dramatic fashion.

Speaking of sneaking, you can also guide Bond around using the ‘sneak’ function which can take him right behind an enemy and remove him from Diavolo’s payroll. While it may not be as sophisticated as Snake’s moves in the “Metal Gear Solid” franchise or “splinter Cell”, it’s not meant to be as much as it is simply fun to be able to have that option. This may disappoint veterans of those franchises looking for more than just a sampler of the covert action, though. Most of the game is set up to be a straightforward festival of explosive action which it still delivers.

Thanks to the members of EA’s “Need for Speed” franchise, not only will Bond find himself shooting, sniping, and sneaking his way from one locale to the next on foot, he’ll also have the opportunity to take the fight on the road in a variety of driving missions putting him in one of three licensed vehicles such as the famous Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo SUV, or the Triumph Daytona 600 motorbike all loaded to the teeth with the latest in anti-theft protection. Again, the game does not expect the player to have had any prior experience in any other driving game. The controls here are just as easy to get a get around with as they are when Bond is on the ground and the missions are just as fun. From chasing a racing train, to flying the canyons in a helicopter, to speeding through the streets of the Big Easy, these are easily some of the more exciting sequences in the game.

“Which Bullet has My Name on It?”

The presentation of the game is a remarkable piece of work. “Agent Under Fire” and “Nightfire” combined don’t have a fraction of the star power alone that “Everything or Nothing” brings to the table. From the haunting melody of Mya’s theme to the thrilling scores accompanying Bond as he runs and drives his way from one corner of the world to the next, the title is something not only to be played but experienced. Bond aficionados will undoubtedly get a kick out of everything found here.

The voice acting of the game is done remarkably well which isn’t much of a surprise considering that all of the key characters are voiced by the same actors that have lent their likenesses to them. John Cleese reprises his role and his dry humor as Q; Dame Judi Dench will brief you on where you are going next; Willem Dafoe’s faux Russian accent will menace you as he gloats about his latest plan; Shannon Elizabeth does a decent job as a geologist helping Bond track down Diavolo’s interest in a mine; Heidi Klum laughs at you as she attempts to make a ‘point’; Mya gives Bond some of her attitude; and Pierce Brosnan ties it all together with his one liners. The quality maintained in the voices also carries over to the rest of sounds for the game from explosive thumps to the whine of a cycle’s engine as you scream against traffic.

Thanks to the third person view, the player is given a larger view of their environment and the explosive effects and opportunities that the developers have loaded the title with. The graphics work done for the game is remarkable especially with the move to third person and the need to represent Pierce Brosnan as Bond in as accurate a way as possible. The quality of the animation work is impressive and the graphical work done with the other characters and the game as a whole helps to keep up the momentum begun when the title first rolled onto the screen. It’s not perfect with some washed out textures and less than spectacular effects on occasion, but these are minor compared to the overall quality of the work put into the sets and characters here.

This also extends out to the level design of each of the missions, especially the driving ones which make use of a variety of alternate routes, fast straightaways, and gravity defying ramps. The indoor levels where Bond will find himself doing his most work in are, for the most part, exciting and fun and range from a building that is slowly blowing itself apart to finding yourself in a vast Cold War superbunker. One of the design goals by the team behind the game was to offer the player a variety of ‘tactical choices’ on how to handle the situations ahead and they’ve somewhat succeded allowing for more than one way on how to approach several situations. Most of the time, though, these ‘tactical choices’ involve finding that ‘Bond Moment’ hidden in the scenery in the form of a rafter you can shoot down on top of foes hiding behind a barricade.

“Do You Expect Me to Talk?” “No, Mister Bond. I Expect you to Die.”

Aside from the single player campaign, there are also multiplayer options such as deathmatch or co-op play in a mission seperate from the main one. Unfortunately, the online multiplayer options are limited to the PS2 release. That means that players hoping to masquerade as Oddjob and tip their hat at everyone they meet out on the ‘net will only be able to do this to friends sitting in the same room as their Xbox.

The co-op mission is pretty fun, at least in the beginning, and follows its own set of challenges and story as you and another player try and survive the gauntlet ahead in split screen fashion. It can even be saved as a separate profile until you and your partner decide to return to try and save each other from being turned into swiss cheese. However, while you can run and gun as much as you want with your partner with this mode, it quickly became a tired exercise.

The options above help to lend the game some longevity which is a good thing namely because in the hands of an experienced action fanatic, it won’t last very long before the end credits roll. However, there are quite a few bonuses available for players that score well at the end of each mission. Items such as ‘Bond Moments’, Enemies Subdued, Accuracy, etc.. are tracked and tallied at the end generating a score. If the score meets certain criteria, a ranking is given such as ‘Silver’ or ‘Platinum’. These ranks unlock bonus material that range from art assets used for the game to special cheats that you can use such as giving yourself the Golden Gun. You can even repeat previous missions to try and improve your score, find those missing ‘Moments’, or raise the challenge by trying out a more difficult setting.

However, this does not help disguise the possibility that the main campaign can still be finished in less than a weekend on normal settings. The limited multiplayer options won’t help it survive for much longer on the Xbox given that it doesn’t make use of Xbox Live. Other than the fact that the title looks great on the Xbox, it’s still little consolation to those looking to assassinate each other across the wire.

“Mr. Bond, You Persist in Defying My Efforts to Provide an Amusing Death for You.”

“Everything or Nothing” offers one of the best single-player Bond experiences yet to be found on consoles despite its other shortcomings. Even if you are not a fan of the franchise, the action and adventure found in the game can stand on their own to provide an entertaining experience. While it may not have the sophisticated stealth and deep storyline found in a “Splinter Cell” or the cinematic sneak and strike action found in “Metal Gear Solid”, what “Everything or Nothing” does is literally offer a lighter version of ‘everything’ else to the player from driving to sniping. The game can be found on the cheap nowadays especially if you can find it used. Bond fans won’t want to miss out on this and may find themselves adding it to their permanent collection. Other players may want to rent the title for a weekend given how quickly determined players may be able to blow through the main campaign.

But the one thing that action gamers can count on if they decide to take on this latest mission is that the game lives up to its namesake, providing the burgeoning superspy with “Everything or Nothing” as they race to save the world.

– World 1-1

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