James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing (henceforth referred as EoN) is arguably the first Bond game to be played in a 3rd person view. I say arguably because there was Tomorrow Never Dies on the Playstation, although few ever remember that game because it was pretty bad.
In my mind it took Electronic Arts a lot of guts to move the Bond series from a FPS to a 3rd person adventure. It’s obvious that the FPS games were still selling quite well and Nightfire was a lot better than Agent Under Fire in my opinion. Maybe Electronic Arts finally wanted to sever the Bond ties to the FPS platform. Fact was in my player and critic minds they would never be able to outdo what Rare did with Goldeneye on the N64. Funny thing is EA recently made a deal to publish Free Radical’s Timesplitters 3…Free Radical is basically the same team that worked on Goldeneye. Could we see another Bond FPS in the future? Who knows.
Along with a 3rd person view, EA also brought a lot of Hollywood power to EoN as well. Pierce Brosnan’s likeness is not only in this game (his likeness was in Nightfire as well), but his voice is also here for the first time. They also enlisted the voices and bodies of Dame Judy Densch (M), John Cleese (Q), Willem Dafoe and Jaws. Along with this they also brought some Bond girl talent as well. Mya speaks a few lines and also lends her voice to the theme song, Shannon Elizabeth is here in body and voice, as is supermodel Heidi Klum.
With all this power behind EoN, can it turn out to be as good or better than its two previous versions and maybe even Goldeneye? Let’s find out.
The graphics, especially from the presentation side of things, are simply awesome. It is obvious that EA Studios in Redwood Shores, CA (the developers) took a lot of play mechanic ideas from Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell and added to them. This is not to say that EoN‘s graphics are better than Splinter Cell, because they aren’t. However, all the franchise based characters look like their real selves, especially Pierce Brosnan. When Bond goes into crouch mode he looks and moves a heck of a lot like Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell. That’s were the similarities between both games end though. In this game you have Bond doing more than Sam Fisher did in Splinter Cell, such as rappelling up and down buildings (while having the ability to shoot), driving motorcycles, helicopters, cars and tanks, as well as having a Bond Sense that slows down the game a bit and allows Bond to fine tune his shot.
All of these game types look absolutely fantastic. Much like with last year’s Nightfire, EA Canada and its Need for Speed team were brought in for the vehicular sections of the game. The reflections on the cars are excellent on the Xbox. Obviously they are not going to be on the level of a Project Gotham Racing 2, but they do a nice job of reflecting what Bond is driving through.
This game has a ton of explosions and the whole production side of things is just jaw-dropping to me. In fact, the game doesn’t even bring up a start screen when you first begin. You go straight into the prelude section of the Bond movies (before the theme comes on) with M speaking to Bond about what he has to do. You then learn each of the moves in the game and after this section is done it goes into a full-fledged Bond movie like title sequence with Mya singing the theme song. It really makes you feel as if you are playing Bond in the movie Everything or Nothing. If EA continues to make Bond games I think this is an excellent way to start them off from now on.
Movements of the characters are fluid, the cutscenes are just spectacular, the environments are somewhat useable (you can blow up explosive tanks or knock over small boxes for cover) and the overall graphics package is just several steps above Nightfire. The move to 3rd person has obviously made Bond look that much better as a game.
Sound and music are simply excellent and in Dolby Digital 5.1 they rock the whole room. I believe this game contains the most explosions in a Bond game yet and each one is just room shattering in its sound. All the guns sound realistic and obviously the actors sound realistic because they’re the voices of the likeness they are occupying. There is no real forced lines for the regular Bond movie crew (Brosnan, Dench and Cleese) and Dafoe as the main villain. Heidi Klum does a pretty good job making it sound like she isn’t reading cue cards and Mya does well with the few lines she has, but Shannon Elizabeth isn’t so good. In fact, she is very Denise Richards like in The World is Not Enough.
One interesting section early on was when Bond reaches a train. The sounds as he goes through the connections to each compartment are just awesome to hear. I can only guess that Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow will sound the same in the train scene as well. I’ve seen them in movies so far, can’t wait to hear them.
EA just brings the bar that much higher with the sound and music in this game. How much farther up can they go with the next Bond game?
The controls are excellent in both action and driving/flying aspects. The X and Y buttons are for left and right punch respectively, B is for diving, A is action, L trigger is aiming, R trigger is shooting, black button moves Bond against the wall, white button makes him crouch. The d-pad can be used to choose weapons and to enable the Bond Sense, a way for him to be more a sharpshooter than he usually is. The back button will fire up the thermal goggles for those times when you are in a dark area.
Driving is also pretty simple: R trigger to accelerate, L trigger to brake, A button to fire missiles or other weapons and the left analog stick to move the vehicle. Also, camera is controlled by the right analog stick, although there is no option to pull away or zoom in on the action, something I will talk about in the Gameplay section.
Gameplay is excellent, but there are some inherent problems with the switchover to 3rd person in this game and some decisions that I think EA Studios in Redwood Shores should have reconsidered before putting this game out. The major question is whether this game could have been the same if it was in a FPS format. My answer would be probably not, although it would be a lot easier to aim.
That’s the key problem with this game, the aiming. You have an auto-aim available to you with the L trigger and an ability to fine tune the aim spot with the right analog stick, but the auto-aim really hurts in this game, especially when there are over 4 enemies shooting at you at one time. Sometimes hand-to-hand combat can help this situation, but when you’re outnumbered you have to use your guns. When you use the right analog stick to fine tune the aim (to be able to do a headshot for instance) it would have been nice to be able to just manually move from person to person via the right analog stick. Instead you have to let go of the L trigger, re-press it and pull off another headshot via the fine tune shot. Obviously once you get good at doing headshots and switching between enemies you will be able to dispatch of most of the enemies with no problem.
The other key problem is the usual for a 3rd person action game…the camera. The camera is actually not that bad in this game, but when Bond is outnumbered in a section it is hard to know exactly where the are shooting from. Having an ability to pull the camera back would have been greatly appreciated, but no such ability is here.
Obviously with Jaws making an appearance in this game, there is a little bit of ties to the older Bond films. Jaws is not the only tie though and the story in and of itself is very interesting. Like I said in the graphics section, this game plays out a lot like a Bond movie, so get ready for the same type of feel to it.
For most people this game will take you between 10 and 15 hours to beat. However if you want to unlock everything and score Platinum on every level you will be going back in order to do so probably. This increases the length even longer.
There are also “Bond Moments” in the game. There are sections in the levels where Bond can do something really special that constitutes a Bond Moment. An example would be turning a table over in order to be cover for Bond. These, much like the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum awards, allow you to unlock more special features in the game.
For the first time there is a cooperative mode as well where you can go through the game with a friend. Unfortunately your friend has to be in the same room as the Xbox version of EoN does not have Live compatibility. The PS2 version allows you to do co-op online, so if you feel this outweighs other things you should probably get the PS2 version.