I have three simple words that summons up images of espionage, explosive action, and international adventures: Bond, James Bond. (You can insert the infamous theme song you’ve been humming here.) Love him or hate him, the superspy has been going strong for more than forty years, saving the world and getting the girl. It would seem completely natural to take the mythos surrounding this movie institution and transfer it over to video games. After all, Sam Fisher and Gabe Logan couldn’t really hold a candle to Bond, right? Unfortunately, most Bond titles have come across like ill-fitting tuxedos: some elements look nice, but the overall gameplay doesn’t do justice to the legend. Well, stealth fans have a reason to be excited, because EA’s latest title, James Bond: Everything or Nothing restores some pride to the Bond franchise in a major way.
Everything or Nothing, in true Bond fashion, involves a multinational plot of revenge and world domination. Shortly after returning from a mission in Tajikistan, James is dispatched on an operation of grave importance. A scientist who specializes in nanotechnology has been kidnapped from a conference at Oxford. What’s worse, fellow agents have disappeared as well, and all clues point to Nikolai Diavolo. A former KGB operative and pupil of past Bond villain Max Zorin, Diavolo is following in his teacher’s footsteps with a plan to control the world. His weapon of choice? A weapon that cannot be seen, with the nanobots used as a stealthy form of terrorism. Even worse, his archrival, Jaws, has joined forces with Diavolo, hoping to get his hands on James. Bond is tasked with saving the scientist and fellow agents from the danger they’re in, prevent the nanobots from destroying the world, and stop Diavolo from enacting any of his schemes.
Of course, as an MI6 officer, James is skilled in both firearms and hand-to-hand combat. While he prefers stealth and silent takedowns, he’s just as dangerous face to face. He can disarm the common thug with a well placed kick, punch or throw, and taking out three or more foes by hand puts him in power mode, boosting the damage he deals and reducing the pain he takes. Many of these blows will force enemies to drop their guns, which Bond can pick up and aim at other opponents. These include rocket launchers, sniper rifles and James’ signature Walther pistol. Bond can not only lock onto his foes with a gun, but can target specific parts of their body in gunfights.
Even cooler (and easily Matrix inspired), Bond can enact something called “Bond Sense,” which slows down the in-game action dramatically. While you won’t get the opportunity to launch additional attacks, a la Max Payne, you’ll get a chance to check incoming threats and your surroundings. Some objects in each level’s environs can either be shot or detonated, which can take out additional enemies. Some of these explosions will trigger what’s known as a Bond Moment, actions that exemplify the character of James Bond itself. These moments aren’t always destructive, however; suavely disarming enemies, performing acrobatic driving stunts or (at one moment) romancing a lady can net these bonuses, which unlock a number of hidden secrets within the game, including production stills, game cheats and additional gear.
Speaking of gear, where would Bond be without his gadgets? Fortunately, Q and his labs have been working overtime, pumping out new equipment for MI6 agents. Perhaps the most important piece of hardware for Bond in Everything or Nothing is the Q-Rappel, which lets James ascend or descend sheer surfaces quickly and quietly. For additional stealth, Bond can turn on his nano suit, which essentially turns him invisible a la Predator. If he needs to scout out other areas, he can release a Q-Spider, which quickly scurries off to observe its environment. He’ll also have access to coin grenades, sleeper darts and thermal vision, amongst other things. This doesn’t count the numerous tweaks made to his Aston Martin Vanquish, Porsche Cayenne or Triumph Daytona, which are dispatched for different stages of James’ missions.
Easily the best looking Bond property ever, the character models are amazing. It’s obvious that the amount of time EA spent with the actors getting their faces scanned for their characters paid off in spades, as the game characters really resemble their real-life counterparts. The smirk that Pierce Brosnan has when he delivers a particularly snarky comment to a bad guy, or the utter disdain that John Cleese has when trying to admonish 007 clearly comes across, and works incredibly well. These details are shown off within the numerous cutscenes scattered throughout the game. However, they’re only used to quickly expand upon the plot action, so endless exposition doesn’t overburden you. This isn’t really too much of a worry either, since the in-game action is so impressive. With limited screen cluttering HUDS, your attention is drawn to the film-like gameplay. In particular, keep an eye out for the amazing cliff level. Huge, colorful explosions and realistic character animations help top off the great touches places in this game.
However, there are a few things that stand out as issues. For one, the camera angles, while for the most part rather solid, can be crappy during a few sequences, primarily during driving and incredibly close combat. While these bad moments are lightly scattered throughout the game, they can sometimes result in continual restarts of a mission. Similarly, you may find some instances of guards clipping through walls or slowdown within massive gunfights.
Sound is truly awesome in Everything or Nothing, with top notch voice acting. Considering you have people such as Willem Dafoe, Dame Judy Dench and Bond himself lending their voices to the game, you’d expect that the speech within the game would be solid. Well, you’re exactly right. Delivering a performance that could be found within a Bond movie, Everything or Nothing is very well acted. (With the possible exception of Mya…Great singer, lackluster actress.) Sound effects are large and as exaggerated as if pulled straight from a movie set, and the music within the game, highlighted by Mya’s take on the Bond theme, is just right.
When you’re playing Everything or Nothing, the game comes across just as if you were watching one of the movies in the Bond series, which is an impressive air to capture. Unlike previous titles, which arbitrarily combined action, driving and shooting into a messy hodgepodge, Everything or Nothing’s well designed plot makes these sections feel extremely natural, just as if James himself was making the decision to jump into a car or take out enemies with a gun. Often exemplified by some of the Bond moments scattered through levels, it highlights the ability of a player to be able to continually replay a previously beaten level to acquire better scores and thereby unlock more secrets. Everything or Nothing offers two levels, Gold and Platinum, both of which start out easy to accomplish and become much harder as time progresses.
There are a few hiccups within the gameplay that darkens Everything or Nothing however. The enemy lock on feature could’ve been implemented much better, as during large conflicts you’ll spend quite a bit of time cycling though numbers of enemies until you get to the closest attacking threat, by which time you’ve already taken quite a bit of damage. Similarly, the driving sections could’ve been tightened up somewhat. Appearing to take the same engine used for Need For Speed: Underground, Everything or Nothing’s driving sequences appear to be a mix of the race and drift modes found within that previously released racing title. However, the handling of James’ cars feels a bit too loose.
In a way, the same could be said about the Multiplayer functionality. There’s the option for cooperative, time based or multiplayer missions within Everything or Nothing, along with deathmatches. However, only the Playstation version takes advantage of online play, which seriously puts a cramp into the style of the Multiplayer feature. Its implementation, while fun, is somewhat limited by the nature of its presentation, making it seem much more like an afterthought that was included at the last second once the single player was finished than a fully fleshed out feature.
However, issues aside, Everything or Nothing is a mission that any gaming agent would be pleased to take. Since there’s no Bond movie this year, it seems as though the developers and actors put all of their talents into making the best game they could, and it shows. A solid story, engaging gameplay and sound technical merits makes Everything or Nothing the best Bond title that’s been released in years. If you dig Bond in any way, you have to get Everything or Nothing.