James Bond takes on a new mission from a new perspective in this latest 007 adventure, but does the evergreen Mr. Bond belong in the first or third person?
Most Bond games have taken place within the first person perspective. Tomorrow Never Dies on the PSOne is the exception to this tradition, but it failed miserably due to lacking play control and overall game play. GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64 is seen as the yard stick for Bond games, because it not only raised the bar as a solid single player first person shooter, it also accented the need for a fun multiplayer experience. Everything or Nothing (EoN) steps back from the first person shooter realm to deliver a more movie like experience.
EoN generates one of the best movie-like experiences coming from a video game. The action, FMVs, and voice acting all help create this feeling during game play and movie sequences. The game even opens up in classic Bond style. When the player first boots up the game, it jumps directly into the opening action sequence without even going via the main menu. The player is flung immediately into the middle of a firefight. During this first mission, Bond must retrieve a suitcase and destroy a helicopter and several tanks. This is a fantastic way to grab the player’s attention and suck him/her into the game. After this opening action level is complete, the player is treated to a traditional Bond psychedelic movie opening, where Mya sings and glossy ladies adorn the screen?just like in any Bond movie.
Due to the third person perspective, the game has the ability to generate a movie-like aesthetic. This is where it stands out over other first person shooters. Because you actually see Bond dodging explosions and driving motorcycles, the action is much more intense. Professional actors even lent their voices and faces to the game; each actor had his or her face scanned and placed upon a 3D model. While the voice acting makes each cut scene come to life, Everything or Nothing truly exemplifies the new trend to make the video game experience become more like a night at the movies.
The majority of EoN is played out on foot, but there are several car-driving levels too. Bond can perform many feats when on foot (no pun intended). First, and most obvious, he can use a number of standard weapons. Pistols, automatics, rocket launchers, and gadgets and gizmos are all at Bond’s disposal. The newest and most welcomed gadget is the repel gun. Bond now can walk up or down the side of a building. This transition from walking on horizontal ground to a vertical standing position is done rather smoothly. When about to walk off an edge, the repel gun will launch automatically, which makes it easy for the player. However, climbing up a wall is a different story. I found it cumbersome that the player must first switch weapons to the repel gun, lock on to the repel point, fire the cable, then re-equip the original gun. The game makes it easy for players to climb down ledges, so why not up? Even though climbing up a wall will take a little extra time, the repel gun is definitely fun to use. But, watch out! Enemies will also repel beside you.
Combat is not as easy or user-friendly as it could have been. The camera and lock-on feature constantly get in the way. First, the game strictly takes place in a third person view, but there will be many times when you’ll want to zoom into a first person view mode to snipe enemies (the sniper rifle only appears in a few missions and takes time and concentration to use properly). In combat, the ?L’ button is used to lock on to a target. In a fight with many enemies, rarely will the game lock on to the enemy you want. Most times, you will want to target the enemy closest to you, but the cursor will always find its way to an enemy far away. The only way to lock on to an enemy of your choice is by keeping the ?L’ button pressed down until the cursor stops exactly where you want it. It’s extremely difficult to shoot enemies without the use of the lock on function, so the player is therefore forced to use it.
Stealth is another important part of each mission. Bond can hug walls and crouch with the use of the ?Z’ button. However, since ?Z’ is used to perform both actions, you might find yourself, at critical moments, doing one and not the other. Plus, the stealth part of the game needs work, mainly due to the enemy A.I. routines. Enemies always seem to instinctively know where you are, even before you get there. For example, you can be slowly creeping through a shadowy hallway, unseen and silent, and enemies will ambush you. It’s intensely frustrating to see enemies one step ahead of you when you’ve given them no reason to be.
Bond is also quite skilled at hand-to-hand fighting; he can use his fists to kill enemies quietly or to disarm them. Combos and throws can also be used. The hand-to-hand fighting is quite advanced and comes as a nice surprise. Occasionally, objects such as wrenches, keyboards, and bottles can be used to help dispatch enemies. Some of these dynamic objects can be thrown while the others are just utilized to enhance punches.
When Bond is not on foot, he can be found in a vehicle of some type. During the course of Everything or Nothing he commandeers cars, motorcycles, tanks, and even helicopters. When in a driving mode, the game uses the Need For Speed engine; it works very well in the weapon-filled Bond universe. All driving levels run smoothly and with an outstanding graphic splendor. Cars are given highly reflective properties so light and shadow all refract very cleanly. The driving controls are pretty well developed, but could use a little extra tweaking. However, there are times when your car or motorcycle will seem a little loose; such as when trying to straighten yourself out after a run in with a wall. Unfortunately, changing weapons is a pain. Because weapon changes are done through the D-pad, the player must release the control stick to access them. During this short time, many bad things can happen; like driving into a wall or an enemy. Plus, the right shoulder button is used to accelerate while the left works for braking and reversing. I would have liked to use the ?A’ button as my accelerator and have the right shoulder button fire weapons. Also, when piloting a helicopter, the reverse-axis control option does not work. Up is always used to go up and down is always used to go down. Players of flight games will not like this formula for control because it’s very confusing and awkward to adapt to.
There are many unlockable features available to keep Everything or Nothing feeling fresh. The player can obtain bronze, gold, or platinum medals for each level. A bronze medal is given to players who simply complete the level. Gold medals are awarded to players who complete a level with a high point value, and Gold also unlocks things like new gadgets and production stills. Platinum medals take time and skill to achieve. First, the player must complete a level on the highest difficulty setting. Then, after it has been completed once, it must be completed again but with a new, harder mission objective. Once these medals have been collected, the game rewards the player with a code for a new weapon like the ?golden gun’. There are plenty of things to unlock and to keep the player coming back.
EoN also has a two-player co-op mode. While this mode starts off as being fun, the co-op soon grows to be repetitious. Each level is based around shooting a few hundred enemies and, in later levels, switches must be pressed simultaneously to access new pathways. That’s pretty much it for the co-op mode; shoot a ton of guys, then both players hit a switch at the same time to open a door to the next room, then shoot another horde of enemies. While this mode is still fun, it could use a little bit more in level design. Keep in mind that the co-op missions are completely different from the main single player missions. The game also has a 4-player death match mode. Once again, this mode can be fun, but I found the split-screen made playing difficult, as each screen has to be cropped to fit the television and, subsequently, much of the player’s view is cut off.
Everything or Nothing can also be used in conjunction with the GameBoy Advance. Unfortunately, you will also need a copy of the game on GBA to gain the extras. If you happen to own both copies of the game, you can link the two games together through a GameCube-to-GBA link cable. When properly connected, players on the GameCube receive game hints and performance stats on their GBA screen. This is not a really important feature, but it’s a nice addition if you own both games.
The graphics are pretty well done, but they rarely push the system in any way. There is some nice graphical flare when driving toward a setting sun, and character models are rather smooth. The facial dialogue animation matches up with the characters’ mouths pretty well, which really makes you believe you’re watching a movie. Everything or Nothing also runs in Progressive Scan mode. The music always continues in the Bond tradition. Mya makes an appearance in the game, and also sings the theme song. The game even supports THX sound to fully re-create the movie experience.
EoN is one of the better Bond games. I think that if Electronic Arts make another Bond game as a third person shooter, they will hit the nail on the head by fixing all the little mistakes made during this one. The lock on feature needs a lot of work, I wanted a first person view mode when using a weapon, and the driving seems a little loose. However, the impact of a movie-like experience ingrained with professional actors certainly enhances the game play. Because of the third person viewpoint and cinematic sequences, Everything or Nothing actually makes you feel as though you are James Bond. The multiplayer is fun, but I think EA can iron out the kinks in any future installment. The GBA connectivity is pretty cool if you own both copies of the game, and this is what separates it from the other consoles. Is this Bond game better than GoldenEye? In short, no. But it is still a pretty decent game that’s worthy of a purchase and most definitely a rental.