reviews\ Dec 4, 2002 at 7:00 pm

James Bond 007: NightFire - PS2 - Review

Okay, I have to admit this right here and right now--it has always been a girlhood fantasy of mine to be a Bond Girl.  There is something about a suave, sophisticated British secret agent--that likes his vodka martinis shaken and not stirred--that is so appealing to a girl that she wouldn’t mind helping him stop some mad mastermind bent on ruling the world.  Of course it helps if you have a weird name like Honey Dew. Either way, it’s fun to see James Bond back in action in 007: Nightfire.


Nightfire’s original story pits James Bond against Raphael Drake, head of the Phoenix International Corporation and the man placed in charge of dismantling warheads throughout the world.  The problem is that Drake’s intentions are not noble ones and he intends on stealing the missile guidance hardware that is destined to be sent to the U.S. Space Weapons Platform and use it for his mad scheme to rule the world.  MI6 has sent Agent 007 to look into the matter along with French demolitions expert Dominique Paradis, CIA field agent Zoe Nightshade and MI6 operative Alura McCall.


Armed with a Wolfram PP7 (you can pick up a wide assortment of weapons along the way) and a small collection of gadgets concocted by gadget master Q, Bond’s mission spans through twelve mission scenarios that takes him to various exotic locales.  Like EA’s other Bond outing, Agent Under Fire, this is a first-person shooter with a light dash of driving simulator action thrown into the mix.  Still, Nightfire is all about great shootouts and you will definitely get into plenty of those here.


Each level has list of objectives Bond must complete in order to move the story on, in this sense; the game practically leads you by the hand.  Still, this is not to say that the game really pushes gamers into quickly completing an objective--you are given a chance to explore the environment.  Just be wary that Drake has an army of henchmen at his command and they do put up a fight.  Some are even smart enough to take cover.


Thankfully, Bond’s weapon list is adequate enough and can be fitted for silencers or set to shot quick bursts.  Weapons consist of handguns, machine guns, shotguns and a missile launcher that’s handy when you need to bring down an enemy helicopter.  You also put Q’s gadgets to good use like the wristwatch with the fitted laser beam (for when you need to break a steel lock) or the spiffy cell phone that also covers as a grappling hook (for when you need to reach one of those hard to reach places).   


Control-wise, Nightfire’s can be a bit awkward at a first glance.  Targeting an enemy is not very easy, especially if the enemy in question is moving around.  Still, this can be corrected by changing the control configuration early on in the game.  Bond also takes control of a few vehicles, among them his Aston Martin V12 Vanquish as well as an well-armed SUV.  The driving mechanics have not been corrected since Agent Under Fire but they are still fun and very welcome.


The visuals are as crisp and clean as Bond’s famous tuxedos and gamers will be pleasantly delighted with the highly detailed characters--especially James Bond himself who is amazingly modeled after actor (and current Bond) Pierce Brosnan during cut scenes. Gamers will no doubt be surprised how expressive the faces get while a character is speaking to you during the game or in a cut scene.  Just as impressive are the environments that look simply wonderful whether it’s out in the snow or inside a Japanese residence.


The voice acting is also top-notch, although it is something of a disappointment that Pierce Brosnan didn’t lend his voice to the starring role.  Still the other voice are authentic and true to the nationalities of the other characters like French babe Dominique Paradis or your enemies depending on where in the globe you find yourself.  And to top it all off, there is a lot of great music found here . . . such as that wonderfully recognizable Bond Theme and a surprisingly excellent opening theme song. 


With an excellent story, exciting action sequences and excellent multiplayer games, 007: Nightfire is jolly good fun.  If you’re in the mood for a good first-person shooter or stepping into the shoes of everyone favorite British secret agent, give this game a try.


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 8.0
Nightfire’s control scheme can be a bit awkward to handle at first, but thankfully you can change the configuration to fit your style of playing.  While you can easily crouch to take cover from enemy fire, targeting an enemy can be something of struggle when they’re on the move.


The mission objectives are all actually unique and will have you performing a number of different tasks in various different locations.  At one point you must protect an informant from Yakuza assassins sent to eliminate him and steal his extremely sensitive files.  While you’re at it, he also asks you to rescue his lovely servant girls and get to the documents before the Yakuza gets it. 


Graphics: 8.6
The graphics put the power of the PS2 to work in this game and you’ll see how this pays off when you look at the characters and your surroundings.  Bond’s expressions and movements mirror those of actor Pierce Brosnan so closely that watching him sweep the women off their feet for a kiss is far better treat then watching an unknown model do it.  The details are so sharp and natural that watching enemies get thrown back by the force of the bullets is a joy (there is no bloodshed here, just enemies dropping dead).


And the exotic locations look spectacular, especially the French Alps mission and the Tokyo missions.  The French Alps, for example, although covered in a blanket of white snow, does manage to still be impressive looking with it’s beautiful backdrops and Drake’s castle. 


Sound: 8.0
What Bond game isn‘t complete without that great soundtrack and bursting-with-life Bond theme.  And, to make the game feel more cinematic, there is a great Bjork-like opening song.  This goes well with the wonderful voice acting by the many colorful characters . . . except for James--the voice actor that does Bond doesn’t even sound English.  Couldn’t they have at least gotten a Pierce Brosnan sound-alike?


The sound effects are also explosive and splendidly authentic with each weapon sounding sharp and loud.  Still, there’s more to the effects then just loud guns and the painful cries of your enemies.  There are plenty of environmental sounds found in this game.  In the French Alps, the winds howl through the narrow corridors of Drake’s castle while wild dogs bark somewhere in the vast coldness.  This is a really nice touch.


Difficulty: Medium
Drake’s henchmen, especially his Black Ops team, move quickly and can be very difficult to target.  While not the most intelligent bunch--some run right into your traps--the enemy has enough common sense to take cover and fire from a safe distance or approach corner stealthily.  The driving simulation parts are also occasionally tricky and challenging.


Concept: 8.5
As it was done in Agent Under Fire, this Bond adventure mixes in a driving simulator with its first-person shooter action.  Both elements keep the game fresh and exciting while keeping the story full intact in the processes.  You can also interact with characters you just happen to meet, like in the party in Drake’s Castle or sneak up behind an enemy and watch him lift his hands up in surrender.


Multiplayer: 8.8
This game also offers a great multiplayer option that you can play against a friend for some two-player split-screen action or with up to four players using the Multitap (the screen is split four ways).  There are a slew of multiplayer scenarios that are too fun to pass up.  There is Arena, Team Arena, Capture the Flag, Uplink, Top Agent, Demolition, Protection, Industrial Espionage, Goldeneye Strike, Assassination, King of the Hill and Team King of the Hill.


You can even customize the game anyway you want and add bots with different traits and personalities (e.g. more protective of team members or aggressively goes after the player with the highest score).  There are also many characters to chose from including classic Bond characters like Oddjob or Goldfinger.


Overall: 8.3
Highly entertaining and visually dazzling, 007: Nightfire is overall a better Bond game than Agent Under Fire and will please those fans of 007.  While never reaching the first-person shooter standards of games like Time Splitters 2 or Red Faction 2, this is still one enjoyable game.


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