James Bond From Russia with Love: Review
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release: November 1 - November 18, 2005 (consoles), April 13, 2006 (PSP)
Console: Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation Portable
In 2005, the James Bond landscape was very different. After the critical panning of Die Another Day, for the first time in decades a follow up film was not a guarantee. The serving James Bond position was vacant so who to get in? Well unlike Agent Under Fire and Nightfire, they did not just get a CGI amalgam of the actors, they got *checks notes* Sir Sean Connery.
OK, just an aside. Sir Sean had spent decades following his leavings of the roles saying ‘I will not speak of James Bond again!’ He was the only then Bond to not appear at the premier of Die Another Day in 2002, the culmination of the 40th anniversary of the series (God I wish I could forget that turd). But in 2005, he returned to the role he left in 1969. And 1971. And 1983. I like to consider myself somewhat knowledgeable on 007 but I have no Earthly idea how this near impossibility was done. But even given his advanced age making his voice notably different than in the 1963 original creating a disconnect with our personal avatar for the game’s duration, it is a sublime experience to finally steer Sir Sean Connery.
OK, aside over.
Talking of disconnect, certain actors in the original film have since passed away. Thus, impressionists are brought in. Though there are some more ropey individual moments (the person impersonating Desmond Llewelyn’s Q has some less than brilliant line deliveries) but for my money, this is largely a fine cast. I would argue that perhaps an even better job than is provided by Connery if everything were equal. But of course, things are not all equal. He is playing the starring role, whereas characters such as Bernard Lee’s M and Lois Maxwell’s Eve Moneypenny are largely limited to one scene.
Gameplay wise, it borrows heavily from previous James Bond game Everything or Nothing. This is achieved by making it not only a carbon copy of the 3rd person gameplay of that game, but with minor refinements, virtually a carbon copy of that game’s own gameplay. But that is no bad thing, unlike the S - Tier regarded Bond game Goldeneye N64, the gameplay in Everything or Nothing is as fresh the day it was dropped in 2004 as it is today. An excellent experience is virtually guaranteed and moreover, unlike many shooters in the last decade and a half, makes it feel exempt from the common criticism of being a simple Call of Duty clone.
Most of the scenes make the leap from the film original to this game. It is overall quite a good aspect of the game, although it made me wonder that From Russia with Love is not exactly the most translatable film to a game, especially where Sean had other entries which definitely were such as Thunderball and You Only Live Twice.
Some of its more bizarre inclusions are when driving the Aston Martin DB5 (a gadget Bond would not get until the next film), you cannot finish a level until you have shot enough enemies. It’s nothing big and quite forgivable, but it just feels like shoehorning padding into a game. Another is the addition of the massive spider robot at the end.
Yep, you read that right, James Bond does battle with a Robot Spider. Whether this was tacked on to elongate a game that is not exactly long is unknown, perhaps it is to make a film from 1963 appeal more to a video game audience in 2005. However, it is an extremely forgettable moment. At the risk of courting controversy, I’d welcome its omission.
But the worst thing by a country mile is the fact the legendary train fight between James Bond and Red Grant is reduced to a cut scene. I have no idea why it was, this scene positively screams ‘yes, I want to get involved too’ and fighting in video games has proved time and time again to work well, but for whatever reason in a film not exactly replete with moments that translate to gaming, one of the moments which does translate well is left as a cut scene. An unpardonable sin.
From this …
… to this
I love Sir Sean Connery’s inclusion, plus as a mega fan of the films, I enjoy the translation of the second film in the series. However, overall, I’m not sure why of Sean’s seven Bond films, they chose this one. Or worse, why as this game has so many similarities to its predecessor Everything or Nothing, they didn’t take the chance to make this a new entry in the series. With all the new inclusions, this would make them less stick out like a sore thumb.
Overall, a solid if at times bizarre at times game. But that may be because I am tempered with being a huge fan of the series itself. It is certainly worth your time to pick up and give a play, perhaps if you are not as much a James Bond nerd as me, you’ll enjoy it more, but I am as much a James Bond nerd as me and even I can look past the weaker parts and Spider Robots of the piece. There is just very little in the way of revolutionary content other than it gets Sean to reprise his role. Probably hurts its audience reach in that way.
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