Not many Bond games come to the PC platform but NightFire, slated for release by Electronic Arts this holiday season, will be available for the big three consoles as well as the PC. Scrolling down the list of features, I had to notice Pierce Brosnan being listed as a feature. That's because NightFire is a Bond story of its own and has nothing to do with the upcoming theatrical release of Die Another Day. Sorry guys, no Halle Berry. But this isn't the first time Brosnan has appeared in an Electronic Arts 007 title. (Nor is it the first time people have drooled over Berry - Swordfish anyone?) Agent Under Fire, released earlier this year, had the Brosnan namesake - my guess is, 007 actors are like sports figures now. You have to sign them individually.
Despite not being developed around Die Another Day, NightFire is looking to be a slick cinematic piece of Bond story in and of itself. You've got gravity-defying Bond girls, slick European cars (yes, Aston Martin is now back as the official Bond car) and a host of gadgets that would make the CIA boys at Langley drool. The story revolves around another rich bad guy, Raphael Drake, whose overenthusiastic efforts to salvage and decommission industrial waste, including 'weapons of mass destruction', surfaces on the MI6 radar. Primarily, an action first person shooter, NightFire mixes in espionage and conspiracy plots to keep the action moving through a dozen levels and at least ten different locales around the world.
A dozen levels may sound short in today's terms but NightFire is a combination action game. It mixes first person shooter mechanics with a good dose of stealth and many of the levels are multi-segmented. For example, in the recently released Japanese themed level, you first have to escort a civilian character, which leads to a story cutscene. Afterwards, he tells you that in order to be safe, you have to go wipe his computer (I hadn't known Bond was an IT guru, but hey, it's James Bond) and then finally he even mentions in passing that it would be nice to save all his servants who are now being taken hostage. Thus, the dynamic objectives and cinematic storyline manage to keep NightFire from degrading into just another first person shooter experience.
Like Agent Under Fire, NightFire has its share of cool weapons and special effects. Many of the tools Bond uses can be upgraded. His trusty sidearm, with the touch of a button, can be augmented with a silencer. The pacing of the action is also done very well, thanks in part to the level setup and the artificial intelligence, who'll launch ambushes at you, use cover and generally move about to make your life difficult or, at the very least, cause a crease or wrinkle in your designer suit.
The lifelike movement of the enemy contributes a lot to the cinematic feel of the game. Scripted or not, those gun-toting enemies who peer around corners look like they are lifted straight out of the movies themselves. Overall, NightFire's visuals shouldn't disappoint or be a compromise on all of its platforms, although there will undoubtedly be differences between the console and PC version, especially with the multiplayer features.
This year has truly been the year for espionage fans. While 2001's spotlight was stolen by those hellfire-equipped CIA spy drones, the rest of arts and entertainment have caught up in 2002. Just name a few movies or games released this year and a spy or spy theme will be prominent amongst them. The latest Bond release will come hot on the heels of Cate Archer's sassy No One Lives Forever, a comedic spy spoof that has seen its sequel released on the PC and the original released on the PS2 not too long ago. But that's no surprise to Bond. He's seen competitors come and go. Oft-imitated, but never surpassed, NightFire's 007 looks sharp in full form for a mid-November pre-emption of the next Bond movie. So if you can't make the trek out to the theaters, you can still get Pierce in your living room.
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