The most recent James Bond video game, From Russia With Love was released on the three console versions back in November of 2005 to many reviews. The most obvious factor drawing in many fans to this Bond game was James Bond himself – Sir Sean Connery. Now, after fans have played the game through and through; and with the PSP releases coming in March, CBn takes a look back at the various reviews of From Russia With Love…the good and the bad.
From Russia With Love looks and plays a lot like Everything or Nothing, which isn’t surprising since it’s running on an engine that seems very similar to its predecessor’s. Bond is dealt a variety of weapons and gadgets to use, including a few nifty ones like the Q-copter, a miniature helicopter that both provides Bond with surveillance of hard-to-reach areas and acts as a weapon (in that it will explode on command). Bond also has a special belt that lets him rappel up and down steep areas. Rappelling was in Everything or Nothing, but it’s not quite the same here. It’s more of a quick mechanic used to get around than something you’ll ever find yourself using in a big action sequence. There’s no rappelling down buildings while stuff’s blowing up here.
From Russia With Love is a good game, but it’s not enough of a leap above its predecessor, Everything or Nothing, to earn a higher score. In fact, one and a half years later, From Russia is a healthy update at best, but neither a significant nor stunning one. The game is a little short the first time through (but yes, there is good replayability). The aiming reticule’s role should be broadened for more exploration and creativity in beating a level. The RPG elements are great; I love them. But I want more upgrades for my weapons. Also, the game’s bosses are predicable and easy.
The levels in EON bordered on great. In comparison, some of From Russia’s missions are longer, but generally their design is average. EON offered cliff-jumping levels, tanks, and all sorts of racing segments. From Russia offers less vehicle variety and some really unimpressive boat levels. Nothing beats that one EON motorcycle mission, which was one of the best motorcycle racing missions I’ve ever been on. The driving here is really run of the mill. The cars aren’t all that fast nor do they handle very well. The shooting segments are good, but nothing better than in EON. Plus, in an age that demands a co-op component, EA switches from EON’s co-op to From Russia’s competitive multiplayer. Huh? Seems strange to me.
We’ll go into specifics, but the basic reason is simple: From Russia With Love is an overly liner, repetitive action game with very little personality. It dictates almost every moment that players can use Bond’s cool gear, and how they can use it all. Gunplay is reduced to its most basic elements, and there’s little AI to speak of, other than the occasional swarms of goons that appear on the most difficult setting. Even at its most difficult, however, the game is barely a challenge, and simply isn’t much fun.
With abilities like Bond Focus, you’d think otherwise. Target an enemy, and press the focus button to zoom in and highlight weak points. Bond might be able to shoot a guard’s grenades, or the rockets protruding from a backpack. A soldier hanging from a rappel line might be brought down by shooting the wire.
While using focus, these weak points show up as small circles on the enemy. Bond’s sight is a small dot, which the player can move. But it can only be moved in a small area around the targeted enemy. A guard might be standing next to an explosive tank, and the obvious solution is to focus and shoot the tank. But the tank might not be targetable (the system is finicky) and if the guard is more than a foot away, players can’t aim far enough off the body to shoot the tank. It’s silly and frustrating.
One of the most endearing qualities of the game that ardent fans are sure to love is the addition of what is practically the original article, the man that made the role of Mr. Bond so coveted in the first place. Of course we’re talking about Sir Sean Connery; the one and only. Mr. Connery is back with all his debonair quips that made the ladies swoon back in the ’70s and while his voice has gotten a bit weathered over the years, he’s still able to bring a smile to a few faces with his trademark Scottish accent. Apart from Mr. Connery and all the changes that he brings to the role that was once Pierce Brosnan’s, there really isn’t all that much that differs from this game to the last, Everything or Nothing. The main differences aren’t actual additions to gameplay but are instead more in the vain of subtle refinements to the classic formula so nothing in From Russia With Love should seem too foreign for veterans of the games.
The simplicity of this game is as easily recognizable as Sean Connery on the game’s box cover. EA made a daring attempt at trying to portray the 1963 film, which for the most part, reached its goal despite the small lack of fluidity in level selection and plot transitions. However, gamers who enjoyed Everything or Nothing will be extremely disappointed to find out that From Russia With Love doesn’t even come close to its previous predecessor’s gameplay innovation and fast-moving action build-up. The game will prove to be too easy for more established gamers, and does very little to raise the bar further up as EON did. However, if you’re the type that doesn’t mind the absence of mindless but highly-entertaining interactive sequences seen in EON, From Russia With Love is definitely a good enough game to deserve a rental. At the very least, you can pretend to be Bond and defeat those soldiers without having a worry about your gaming experience or skill factor. Just don’t expect that much of a push towards quality gameplay, because EA certainly didn’t push this one.