Bond Gets No Lovin' With the Ladies
Fights. Chases. Gadgets. Seduction. These are the four key elements of any Bond film.
Sure, the Daniel Craig versions skimp on the gadgets and go heavy on the fisticuffs. But, look at any of the 22 Bond movies released over the last fifty years, and you'll find these ingredients present and correct, albeit in varying proportions.
With the release of the upcoming Goldeneye 007 reworking for the Wii, we'll have also seen an astounding 22 James Bond based video games - must be some sort of record.
Bond games have ranged from the legendary (GoldenEye) to the rubbish (GoldenEye: Rogue Agent), but they've almost always focused exclusively on combat - sometimes stealthy, but mainly loud and explosive. In addition, there are generally a few gadgets tossed into the mix, and titles like Everything or Nothing have incorporated vehicle sequences.
But there has always, and we do mean always, been that fourth element missing. Seduction.
Don't let me be misunderstood; Bond's developers have a proud tradition of putting Bond girls into their games. Everything or Nothing, for example, featured Heidi Klum, and the upcoming Blood Stone stars the appropriately named Joss Stone, who also provides the title song. The problem is that these girls don't tend to be very "interactive."
On Her Majesty's Sexy Service
James Bond has to go through a lot. Torture. Being shot at. Conveniently escapable death-traps. So it's only fair, then, that not all of his work is quite so unpleasant. As an MI6 agent, he's frequently tasked with pumping contracts for information, and sometimes that requires him to use two different shades of meaning. To be frank, Mr. Bond is a government sponsored man-whore, bedding beauties for Queen and Country.
There are obvious reasons why certain aspects of his enviable duties can't be depicted or captured in gameplay form. But the Bond flicks manage it just fine, and they're hardly hardcore pornography.
You see, with Bond, it's all about the foreplay. The approach, the seduction, the dry wit and the dry martinis. There's no reason at all why that can't be captured in gaming form; it's just that no-one wants to be the first to try. I've come up with not one, but three methods which game creators could use to capture Bond's womanizing antics.
Even popsicle-Bond gets more action.
Just Like in the Movies
Our first method: Non-interactive cutscenes. This method has its attractions. Firstly, it's probably the least risky of the three; the safest, least experimental option. Gamers know and trust cutscenes. Further, bad cutscenes are sadly common in the game industry. A bad seduction mechanic, however is not, and could be a source of ridicule for years to come.
But cutscenes can be used well. Uncharted 2, while being a bit more Indiana Jones than James Bond, managed to get a spicy love triangle going through frequent, well-paced movies. In that game, this aspect of the plot just helped add to the adventure's bombastic, filmic qualities. Cutscenes can be the extra spice that fleshes out the game world and makes it feel alive.
Problem is, it doesn't really solve the dilemma of making 007's in-game encounters interactive. Although at least you can watch cutscenes without having to hold the controller, leaving hands free for "other things,” like making a cup of tea.
Then again, not every Bond babe deserves a cutscene.
Press A now, Mr. Bond
Route two involves making Bond's romantic success dependent on mini-games or quick time events. The mini-game method has been pioneered in such "classics" as Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude.
Thankfully, it's also been featured in better games, like God of War and Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy. The European version of the latter did, at one point, actually allow you to flick the mouse back and forth and back and forth in order to... I'll let you work it out. It was surprisingly tasteful.
We're not advocating that level of "interactivity" in Bond, but trying to seduce the ladies via a mini-game isn't a terrible idea. The only drawback is that it's bound to make the experience feel a bit floaty and abstract; the gameplay not directly reflecting your character's actions.
How is that Larry can score this fine woman, and Bond can't?
Shaken or Stirred?
This brings us on to option three; a dialogue based mechanic. The Mass Effect games have shown us how chasing after potential mates can work with a dialogue wheel. Dialogue based gameplay has even been featured in an espionage context, in the best bit of the somewhat patchy Alpha Protocol.
It could certainly make for fun moments to pick between multiple one-liners, trying to choose the one to most impress Bond's female companion. The mechanic could even be made deeper, with an RPG style levelling system; players putting points into skills like innuendo, flattery, mystique and so forth.
This game could also incorporate a Monkey Island Insult-Swordfighting style system; learn a pick-up line in Paris, use it on a girl in Moscow.
Like this only less, you know, scary.
Licence to Pull
To make a really authentic, rounded James Bond experience, his future digital curators are going to have to capture every aspect of the 007 experience - including the romancin'. Players don't expect their solo gaming experiences to directly imitate the movies; after all we're playing, not watching. But nowadays, there's definitely a requirement to capture that epic, all-in feel. And for Bond, that means babes.