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21 Jun, 2008

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy Review

360 Review | A movie favourite is re-Bourne on home consoles.
A lot is made in the gaming media over the quality of a movie licensed game, or lack of it. Virtually every single game that comes tied into a movie release is inherently poor. Sure, there are a thousand different reasons behind why each is so poor, but that’s a story for another day. A recent trend that has been around for the last few years has been the retelling of movie franchises in video games, long after their cinematic release. The Godfather from two years ago was one of the first of these kinds of games. Jumping on the bandwagon is Sierra with their take on Robert Ludlum’s Bourne franchise, with Robert Ludlum’s: The Bourne Conspiracy.

The three cinematic releases The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum are all loose relations of the Robert Ludlum novels of the same names. They told the story of a man who wakes up in a fishing vessel, having been fished out of the ocean, has bullet wounds in his back and no memory. It turns out that he’s Jason Bourne, a highly trained assassin, or a “30 million dollar weapon”. Confused and assumed dangerous, the authorities try to neutralise him, while Bourne uses a unique brand of improvised and resourceful stealth to get away and start life anew. The Bourne Conspiracy video game is a retelling of the first movie, The Bourne Identity.

Since Bourne has amnesia, a large part of the story is about the events that led up to his ocean rescue. The Bourne Conspiracy fills these in where the movie couldn’t quite. A lot of the missions are triggered as Bourne is looking through the pieces of his missing life and you replay some of his past assassinations. So effectively, things will make a whole lot more sense if you have seen or are a fan of the movies. Newcomers might get a little confused as the game skims extremely briefly over the movie related story sections. Another commonality among such games (including The Warriors) the game does reasonably well with the non-movie related sequences, it’s the condensing of the movie’s story that holds the game back.

Mindless carnage is Bourne, right?

Mindless carnage is Bourne, right?
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The Bourne Conspiracy adds some nice new gameplay elements and does an astute job of trying bring the Bourne persona to the home console. However, it’s too deeply entrenched in gaming convention and what seems to be the desire to drag some more games out of the engine that has been created. By trying to drag out sequences within the game and aim at the lowest common denominator of the PS3 and Xbox 360 gamers, The Bourne Conspiracy ends up being just another third person shooter, albeit one with some nice moments.

Split into eleven missions, The Bourne Conspiracy is a mix of shooting, hand-to-hand combat and a solitary driving mission, joined together by a number of quick-time events. There are also minor opportunities for basic stealth. A gameplay element that holds things together is the “Bourne Instinct”. By pressing a button, objectives will be highlighted on screen, enemies illuminated and waypoints temporarily shown on the radar. While this makes things very easy, it is also a good way of highlighting Bourne’s heightened skills and sense. Switches tend to blend in really well, so you'll be thankful for this mechanic.

The shooting is probably a little too heavy for a game based on this franchise. Bourne is known for being resourceful and not really for lugging around heavy weaponry, as he does for so much of the game. It relies on using cover and similar ‘stop-and-pop’ tactics to Gears of War and Uncharted. There a lot of things that can be destroyed (one of the game’s major plus points) and Bourne Instincts help a lot. Still, the controls are jittery and clunky. Not busted, but running around with a gun unholstered is a real pain. Another point of improvement would have been to allow the player reticule while behind cover. Jumping out and not having the aim where you want it can make a big difference on higher difficulty levels. This would have been more then acceptable, if the game didn’t rely so heavily on it.

Now THIS is more like Bourne.

Now THIS is more like Bourne.
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There are seamless transitions between hand-to-hand combat and shooting. The occurrence of these sequences are scripted, though anytime you get close to an enemy will trigger them as well. Using combinations of light and heavy attacks, as well as a block, you fight enemies and build up adrenaline. Enough adrenaline will allow you to pull off a takedown. Here, Bourne uses his patented resourcefulness by maiming enemies with environmental implements to knock them out, severally damage enemies, or take out several if you have enough bars filled. There are some nice ‘easter eggs’ among these, and a combo will be performed if there is nothing close. Combat holds up for the most part and the takedowns can be brutally enjoyable, but again, there is too much of it, it’s rather simplistic and at times unresponsive. Not to mention, the boss fights which are primarily melee, are way too drawn out.

The driving sequence will either be some good arcade fun or ridiculously implausible, depending on how you approach it. As conveyors of games, we’re willing to let it slide. Your vehicle handles quite well, if as arcade as possible and when you crash things like chairs and signs, you gather adrenaline. This time, adrenaline can slow time and allow you to perform some crazy avoiding manoeuvres. You’ll need to, as it seems that crashes are like those at the dodge’ em cars. Cars remain stapled to the ground and you come to a grinding halt. Still, our car put up with A LOT of damage and it was a fun little diversion, if again, it weren’t so drawn out.

The Bourne Conspiracy makes heavy use of quick-time events. Because their so frequent, they don’t often sneak up on you unfairly, but a lot of them are hard fails, which can be frustrating. Thankfully though, checkpoints are very generous so it’s not a total downer. Still, we can’t help be feel that sometimes they are unnecessary. A lot has been also made about the game’s length. It can be bashed though under 6 hours, but a proper play through will likely take around 6-8 hours, particularly on higher difficulty levels. Still, there is (understandably, mind you) no multiplayer and the only incentives are passport collecting for extras or for achievements/accomplishments. Otherwise, the heavily scripted nature of the game hampers replay value. Given this, a purchase is hard to strongly justify, though you’re unlikely to regret a rental.

Arcadey or ridiculous? We'll let you decide.

Arcadey or ridiculous? We'll let you decide.
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What splits The Bourne Conspiracy from actually being ‘Bourne’, is the underlying structure that dictates throwing a large number of enemies at you. You basically end up playing a one man army, scathing through seemingly endless enemy hordes through situations that seem way more disruptive then anything seen in the movies. There’s more cat-and-mouse, discretion in random moments in the movies, where as the game relies forcing you to shoot your way through. This is really highlighted in the airport level, where the havoc created is SO exaggerated, it seems out of place, which is saying a lot when you consider some of the movie’s car chases. Some of the rejigged sequences, such as the one involving The Professor are perfectly acceptable, but most are a long way off. It seems that this decision was purely a conventional one, as the actual Bourne elements would have been more difficult to apply (slower, possibly stealthier) and possibly ‘sell’.

While The Bourne Conspiracy replaces Matt Damon and the movies other actors with randoms, the game doesn’t suffer from this. The attention to detail is nice and there are good design choices, the visuals, built of the Unreal III engine look like they’ve been maxed out and slightly aged. Still, the potential for destruction is some of the best we seen in this generation and the game’s style stands on its own. Aurally, the voicing is decent but the stilted movie dialogue doesn’t come off as well. The music is good, though not really a track to stick with you long after.

It’s regrettable that the decision to ‘simplify’ and drag out the franchise has affected The Bourne Conspiracy the way it has. And even though it’s a fun action in it’s own right with nice style, nice touches and some panache, the aforementioned issues as well as weak controls and brevity bring down an otherwise solid, if eventually run-of-the-mill third person shooter. Still, the destruction you can cause and the smack that you lay down does make for a guilty pleasure. While not as blatantly obvious as your usual movie tie-in, it’s the search for the bottom dollar that has again held back an otherwise good licensed game.
The Score
The Bourne Conspiracy is a reasonably enjoyable shooter that uses the license well, but not to the best extent. Worth a rental though. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy Review
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7 Comments
5 years ago
i don't mean to be a stickler, but who actually wrote this article?

it's word-for-word identical to "Jeremy's" PS3 review, including a formatting error involving the italics bbcode in the 6th paragraph.

strikes me as a little odd, is all.
5 years ago
I hate when websites have the same review, word for word, on different consoles. That's one reason I like IGN and hate Gamespot's reviews for Wii games that are on other consoles.
5 years ago
I get the impression that there are going to be plenty of titles this gen that are worth a purchase at a bargain-bin price.

For mine i am already scouting: - condemned 2, ratchet and clank, grid and now bourne as purchases to make once they near the $50 - $40 range. Not quite worthy of my $89, but half that in 6 months time is a deal i am willing to exploit.
5 years ago
ObsoletE wrote
i don't mean to be a stickler, but who actually wrote this article?

it's word-for-word identical to "Jeremy's" PS3 review, including a formatting error involving the italics bbcode in the 6th paragraph.

strikes me as a little odd, is all.
PALGN has begun posting multiple reviews and will edit the text when necessary (ie Sega Superstars Tennis). All formats of the game are played, however on x360 or PS3 Bourne is essentially identical.

In cases where the review is of a different version of the game (ie the Wii) we will either review it seperately or not cover it at all.
5 years ago
But where's the ownership? Who actually wrote the review, you or Jeremy?

I don't know, I just think this is unnecessary clutter (since you get a separate topic for each review as well..) Is this just a way to get a greater presence on Metacritic/Gamerankings or something?
5 years ago
I wrote the article

/jks

I like the looks of his game, sounds like there putting effort into it. Might have to wait to see closer to the release date.
5 years ago
Passa wrote
But where's the ownership? Who actually wrote the review, you or Jeremy?

I don't know, I just think this is unnecessary clutter (since you get a separate topic for each review as well..) Is this just a way to get a greater presence on Metacritic/Gamerankings or something?
Jeremy wrote the piece, all articles going forward will be posted under the one author. It's so that those who want reviews for their specific console will get this, rather than one general review which covers all formats.
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| More
  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  5/06/2008 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $99.95 AU
Publisher:
  Vivendi Universal
Genre:
  Shooter
Year Made:
  2008
Players:
  1

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