1. Setting the Night On Fire…

    By David Winter on 2002-07-27

    PC Zone features an interview with Michael Condrey, PC Producer of "James Bond 007 in Nightfire", which is due to release. Additionally we are given some information on locations Bond has to travel on his mission.


    We chat to the producer on the PC version of shooter James Bond 007: Nightfire.

    He gets the fast cars, he gets the gadgets, he gets the guns, he gets all the women – git – and at the end of the day he always gets the bad guy. Yup, James Bond rocks. And the prospect of stepping into the tuxedo and living the life of the hero on PC has got us all wobbly with excitement.

    In development at Gearbox Software, shooter James Bond 007: Nightfire on PC is going to see the British special agent on the trail of megalomaniac Raphael Drake. A combination of stealth gameplay and adrenaline-pumping action, it'll see you trotting all around the globe as you try to put a stop to the schemes of the evil, cackling villain.

    Drawing on the Bond movies – and, so we've been told, Bond game Agent Under Fire – Nightfire will contain many locations and characters familiar to fans of 007 and his universe. Fort Knox from Goldfinger will be represented in game-form as will the space station from Moonraker, and Odd Job with his metal-rimmed hat and the giant Jaws will also play part in some shape or form.

    We recently got the chance to sit down with the producer of Nightfire on PC, Michael Condrey, so we thought we'd pick his brain for some juicy details to find out what's in store.

    You've already explained that the PC version of Nightfire is substantially different from the console versions. Could you go into these differences in greater detail?

    Condrey: Yeah, absolutely. We really want to focus on the strengths of each platform, so the consoles have different specs and there are different gameplay aspects that they focus on. With the PC version we've done some interesting things – an example would be level-specific layouts. We might share locations – all versions have an Austria level for example – but the way we lay out the Austrian level in the PC version plays on that platform's strengths.

    We have PC-specific levels as well, stuff we've done only for that platform that you won't find on the consoles. And of course, the control method differs because you have a mouse and keyboard, so the way you interact in levels is quite different to the console versions. Then there's the multiplayer component for the online players, which is specific to the PC and allows us to take full advantage of people playing both on LAN and Internet.

    And finally there're the hardware capabilities. With the latest nVidia technology and processor speeds available we've been able to push texture resolutions to a higher level.

    So how would you persuade someone to buy the PC version of Nightfire over the other console versions that are going to be available?

    Condrey: Hmm, that's a tough question. I think the console game is going to be a great game, and if you own a console you should definitely buy the console version. If you have a PC, you should buy the PC game. So if you have both, you should really buy both, as each offer different experiences and focus on different things. The console version has its racing levels, whereas the PC version is the only version that'll have online capabilities. For me the online scene is when first-person shooters get really exciting.

    If I wanted to get online, fight against my friends and have some fun on the Internet, the PC product is the only product that'll allow you to do that?

    So what's so exciting about the multiplayer features in Nightfire?

    Condrey: I think for me, right off the top, it's the first chance to get Bond out there in the multiplayer arena. To be in the Bond world, to be able to play against Odd Job on the Fort Knox level using your gadgets… everything that makes the last forty years of Bond so exciting, to see that finally online… I think that's where it's going to be at. Plus we're supporting all the multiplayer modes that people have come to know and love.

    How many players will multiplayer support?

    Condrey: Our goal is to support up to 32 players simultaneously.

    You mentioned Odd Job as a playable character in multiplayer. Will there be a range of classic characters available that you can play?

    Condrey: Yeah, that's the goal. The goal is to take the best of the last 40 years and tie that in to both the environments and the levels and the characters that you play against.

    Can you tell us about some of the things that are in the game that you've taken from the Bond universe?

    Condrey: Sure. As you've seen today, we've got Fort Knox from Goldfinger, you'll see the space station level from Moonraker. You'll see characters such as Jaws that we've brought back, as well as characters that may come back from Agent Under Fire. It's kind of the whole spectrum of both the game history and the movie history – there's quite a lot to draw on.

    Pierce Brosnan is used in the PC version. Obviously getting that is great from a marketing point of view as he's a great figurehead. But part of playing a first-person shooter, and especially a James Bond shooter, is about becoming the character, about becoming Bond yourself. Before it's been an anonymous Bond which almost made it easier to imagine yourself in that position. Do you think, conversely, that there's an argument that says that you lose that sort of immersion by having a Bond in there who's as recognisable as Pierce Brosnan?

    Condrey: I personally think that this year, with Die Another Day coming out, it's on everyone's mind what Bond is. For me, actually seeing Pierce as the character helps me believe more who Bond is. Previously, the unknown Bond was a guy in Bond's world but we didn't really connect with him. With Pierce we connect with him, we recognise that he is the genuine, legitimate Bond of today. This is true for myself, and I hope this is true for consumers, that they actually make that same connection they make when watching the film.

    Have you been restricted with what you can do with the character now that you're using Pierce Brosnan?

    Condrey: MGM and Danjaq, who are the owners of the Bond license and property, have been great partners. They certainly have a very strong property that they want to protect, and I respect them for that. They've worked really closely to make sure that we understand their needs, and have helped us understand what Bond would do in his world.

    I wouldn't say they've been restrictive at all, they've just been great partners and great in sharing expectations. It hasn't changed how we've developed the game at all.

    Console first-person shooters are still coming of age, and they're not quite as hardcore as their PC cousins – PC shooter fans are very purist. In terms of that, and in terms of the competition that's out there, what do you feel that you're offering that's new to the genre?

    Condrey: It's an interesting dichotomy in first-person shooters, because certainly there is a very hardcore audience that loves its first-person shooter experience. But we're also seeing that mass-market PC games are able to draw in a lot of consumers as well. For example, Harry Potter on the PC and The Sims on the PC have been hugely successful. So we want to try and address the needs of both groups. We've tried to introduce things like tuning on our multiple difficulty levels, so that a new gamer can come in, set it on Easy, and be prompted with a few hints and things to help him along.

    But if a hardcore gamer comes in and wants a challenge, they can set it on a harder setting and go out there and struggle to succeed. We've tried to address both sides of that, and I hope that we've done a good job.