Product Type: Electronic Arts PS2 games
Newest Review: ... marks From Russia With Love out is that you play as a Bond modelled on Sean Connery. Recognising the rarity of such an occurrence, EA pulle... more
From Tom, With Indifference
James Bond: From Russia With Love (PS2)
Member Name: tom1clare
James Bond: From Russia With Love (PS2)
Advantages: Decent graphics; strong accompaniment; lots of content and replay value
Disadvantages: Simple, uninteresting combat; inconsistent design; poor multiplayer
From Russia With Love is well-regarded among film critics and fans alike, though it probably isn't the first to spring to mind if you were tasked with designing a video game around one of 007's adventures. And this predictably has its issues, namely that a significant dose of "artistic licence" has been required to make it all work in a different form of media. Some of the film's big moments are either cut completely, or left for the cut-scenes to tell. The pre-credits intro make for a sprightly introduction though, culminating in the player rescuing the Prime Minister's daughter (oddly played by and modelled on singer Natasha Beddingfield) by jet-packing around Big Ben. It sets the scene for a fast-paced and enjoyable, if slightly lightweight, adventure.
A third-person shoot 'em up, the first thing that marks From Russia With Love out is that you play as a Bond modelled on Sean Connery. Recognising the rarity of such an occurrence, EA pulled-off another coup in getting the legendary actor to record all new dialogue for the game. Admittedly, this is a bit of a double-edged sword - essentially you've got a thirty-something spy being voiced by a 75 year-old, and thus the delivery sounds rather laboured, and at times the effect is closer to Indiana Jones's Dad than the international super-spy. Still, though it does feel a bit out of place at times, Connery's presence is still a boon.
And Bond looks excellent. Stylish and detailed, the spy is very much reminiscent of the actor, not only in his facial likeness to Connery but the smooth, slick manner in which he moves. And but for a seemingly inevitable descent into samey, corridor-heavy level-design, the solid environments would likely have reached a similar level of excellence. The interiors are pleasantly fleshed-out, and include M's office, Q's laboratory and all manner of other locations linked to the film. From Russia With Love has few troubles presentation-wise; the music in particular is fantastic, whilst the cut-scenes and intro music video come with all the trimmings of a blockbuster venture.
For the most part, the story is fairly comprehensively covered, though in making it game-friendly, it can sometimes feel inconsistent. The Gypsy Camp shows positive endeavour, incorporating gaming elements around a memorable cinematic scene. Bond is lead through a fire-fight, rescues hostages and ends up covering an injured Kerim Bay with a sniper rifle. But just as this demonstrates a good expansion, the Train level late on is indicative of the missed opportunities, as little is made of a potentially very exciting action setting. It offers some serviceable driving sections as you motor round in an Aston Martin; there's a couple of cool gizmos, but the driving bits on the whole are run of the mill.
Elsewhere it's guilty of not making imaginative use of the source material - as is the case with so many Bond tie-ins, most of the gadgets are either rarely required or boring to use, with Bond's laser-watch being deployed for little more than busting electronic locks through windows and the sonic cufflinks ending up feeling like novelty stun grenades. The Q-Copter is the one really cool toy at your disposal, as you can guide it through vents into otherwise inaccessible rooms, taking out guards and security systems.
Realistically, the game would have had a hard time reaching Triple-A standards anyway due to its simplistic, unsatisfying combat. Chiefly, this is the fault of the lock-on function which limits the need for skill and precision in fire-fights. Though the catalogue of weapons is extensive, almost all save for the rocket launcher and sniper rifle handle much the same, with only relatively minor differences. Rummaging around for hidden schematics files rewards the player with ability to upgrade their arsenal, though oddly most parameters only really improve the size of clips or overall quantity of ammunition the player can carry.
The multiplayer is no great shakes, but it does at least provide the player with some incentive to unlock new characters. And in fairness, there's no shortage of content in From Russia With Love; the 15 main story missions shouldn't take more than a few days to mow through as, but for the odd spike caused by some tricky on-rails shooting sections, the difficulty is relatively gentle. Strong performances are converted into points and bonuses, including perks for killing a set number of foes, completing levels quickly or on a high difficulty, and for achieving a "Bond Moment" - such as gaining access to locked rooms or taking down helicopters. Unusually, there's a generous helping of four additional bonus levels, which should keep to the keener Bond fans busy, as even if they aren't massively diverting, they do provide a robust challenge.
Once again, we're left with a Bond game that will be appreciated most by fans. There are many better action games - and better Bond ones - available, but as an experiment in resurrecting old source material, it's a surprisingly content-rich title. Unfortunately, it's ultimately undermined by simplistic combat that stunts both the challenge and enjoyment factor.
Summary: Connery returns to help EA make another so-so Bond game