When GoldenEye first appeared on the Nintendo 64, the James Bond license instantly gained massive notoriety within the gaming world. Rare proved just what a talented developer could do with the license and set an almost unsurpassable standard. EA now hold the rights to the 007 franchise and, with Everything or Nothing, they’ve shown that they, too, know what to do when it comes to the English super spy.
Everything or Nothing changes the established formula for Bond games; instead of the customary first-person viewpoint, players now view the action from a third-person perspective. This considerably changes the game’s dynamics, allowing for a stealthier play approach, which wouldn’t normally be present in a standard first-person shooter. Unfortunately, though, this really isn’t utilized very well. Players are given the ability to take cover and peek around walls, but these gameplay details simply tend to delay the often inevitable firefight.
The switch in view perspectives also comes with its own set of problems, specifically camera control and targeting. For the most part, EA have done a decent job of minimizing these problems, but there’s certainly room for improvement. The camera really isn’t much of a problem; only rarely does it shoot the action from an awkward angle. The targeting, on the other hand, could use some serious work. Players simply pull the left trigger to target an enemy and hold it to keep that enemy targeted ? this works well enough when enemies are at a medium range from the player’s position. However, when enemies are either close or very far away, things suddenly get a little weird. The game sporadically chooses not to target enemies right next to you, instead opting to target a more distant foe, and allowing closer enemies to inflict serious damage. Conversely, when an enemy is too far away, he will occasionally jump in and out of your targeting range.
One other targeting problem comes as somewhat of a drawback to an otherwise handy feature. When players have an enemy targeted, they can move the right stick to more precisely aim at a certain body part. When given enough time, this can be quite useful. However, in the middle of a shootout it can become problematic, because the right stick also controls the camera when not locked on. This will sometimes lead to players trying to move the camera and accidentally moving the reticule completely off the enemy they’re trying to dispatch. As players grow accustomed to the controls this will happen less and less, but it is still a notable problem.
The controls, in general, tend to be overly complicated, at least during the on-foot portions of the game. The developers seemingly felt the need to utilize every single button on the controller; there are even two separate buttons for punching (one for the left hand, one for the right). This really has no practical use and could easily have been eliminated. After the player gets familiar with the control setup, it becomes fairly intuitive though. By contrast, the controls for the vehicle sequences are perfectly intuitive immediately and take virtually no time to get accustomed to.
That really reflects my overall impression of the game. The vehicle portions show considerably more polish and are simply much more fun to play than the on-foot missions. This, undoubtedly, is due to the fact that EA utilized their proven Need for Speed engine for the vehicle missions; but that just means they should’ve had extra time to spend on the rest of the game! While the on-foot missions sometimes feel disjointed, frustrating, and boring, the vehicle missions are always engaging, exciting and simply a blast to play. The mission where the motorcycle-riding Bond chases down Jaws (evil henchman, not hungry shark) who’s driving a tanker down a busy highway, makes this game worth a rental all by itself.
EA have done a wonderful job of making Everything or Nothing feel like a playable Bond movie. The characters look and sound like their respective actors, including Pierce Brosnan, Willem Defoe, Heidi Klum, Shannon Elizabeth and more. It’s a star-studded cast that adds immensely to the atmosphere of the game. EA did a great job modeling the characters to look like their real-life counterparts. Lip-synching is flawless too, which perfectly complements the superb voice acting. Sadly, there is one voice that doesn’t stack alongside the rest. That is Mya’s voice. The singer performs well in providing the excellent title song but, when it comes to voicing her in-game character, she really falls flat. It’s obvious that she’s reading her lines word-for-word from the script. They lack any emotion and are almost comically bad. Considering the top-notch quality of the rest of the voice acting in the game, this one weak voice really sticks out.
Once again, due to the Need for Speed engine, the vehicle missions outshine the rest of the game in the graphics department too. The vehicles are all wonderfully rendered and look fantastic as they tear through the streets. Roadside foliage even reflects off the shiny surface of the cars; these reflections don’t go by at quite the right speed, though, so it sometimes looks a little awkward. The vehicles are all animated beautifully, bumping and moving with the terrain. Overall, this game really looks great on the Xbox, especially for a multi-platform release.
Everything or Nothing also takes advantage of the Xbox’s powerful audio hardware. It features impressive surround support with commendable speaker separation. You’ll be able to hear enemies shooting at you from behind and know where they are without having to turn around. In the driving missions, you’ll hear cars whizzing from the front to the rear as you pass them. Combined with the quality music and overall fantastic voice acting (despite the one weak link), this game really offers up quite a treat for the ears.
Ultimately, Everything or Nothing represents a great first step in a new direction for the Bond franchise. The third-person viewpoint opens up vast new gameplay possibilities, though they weren’t utilized quite as well as they could have been this time around. I was skeptical of the vehicle missions before I played the game, but they turned out to be an absolute blast. By the end, I was really wishing there were more of them. The on-foot missions have some noteworthy moments but, as a whole, aren’t nearly as much fun compared with the vehicle sections, and sometimes they break down into tedious trial-and-error sessions. The game is fairly long, consisting of nearly 30 missions (though they’re all quite short). After each mission, players are ranked on their performance and there are some interesting unlockable features, for those who are interested. The multiplayer is a worthwhile diversion, but is nothing likely to hold your attention for long. Overall, Everything or Nothing is really a must-own game for Bond movie fans and worth at least a rental for anyone with even a slight interest in 007.