Matt Keller
19 Dec, 2005

James Bond 007: From Russia With Love Review

Xbox Review | In Soviet Russia, game plays you.
EA have an illustrious history with the James Bond license, but are likely to forever live under the shadow of Rare’s N64 epic GoldenEye 007. They’ve even tried to cash in on the GoldenEye name with last year’s Rogue Agent which failed to please critics or consumers, contributing to EA’s somewhat miserable Holiday 2004 by being forced into bargain bins only a month after release. The Redwood giant has decided to go back to what worked last time – the formula for their first Bond release of 2004 – Everything or Nothing, and use that play style to make the first videogame adaptation of the second Bond film, From Russia With Love.

Loose would probably be the most fitting description of this particular adaptation, as EA Redwood have taken a lot of liberties while converting this particular Bond adventure from celluloid to binary. Most notably, the plot has been retooled to allow for more action sequences, which seems to cheapen the story a little, considering it was a slightly more low key Bond film than many are used to. The basic events of the film are followed closely, but several changes were forced due to licensing issues, such as S.P.E.C.T.R.E. being renamed to OCTOPUS, yet some of the more climactic sequences (namely the train fight) have been altered for little, if any reason. After the death of Dr. No, the OCTUPUS group conceives a plan to embarrass a British secret service agent 007, involving the theft of the Lektor, a Soviet coding machine with the help of Tatiana Romanova. However, Tatiana is a double agent being used by OCTUPUS to lure Bond into a trap, where the group could kill the agent and claim the Lektor device for themselves.

Excuse my gas, madam

Excuse my gas, madam
From Russia With Love plays virtually identically to Everything or Nothing given the fact they share similar tech, but where EON was fresh and exciting, From Russia With Love just feels straightforward and downright easy – and that’s if you don’t take offence to the changes made to the plot to make it more “gamey”. A few sequences have been tacked on – the first level, where players rescue the prime ministers daughter, and the last level which is meant to offer a more satisfying gaming-style ending, yet ultimately fails. Of course, you have the problems of sequences from a two hour movie being stretched out into an eight hour game, so the game is full of EA-made filler material, which is totally lacking when compared to the Fleming source material.

From Russia With Love maintains the same mission structure as EON, where players have to accomplish a series of objectives, as well as satisfying a number of bonus criteria (including the stylish Bond Moments), which basically lead to the unlocking of the game’s fairly significant bonus content. The game is presented from the third person perspective once again, which unfortunately leads to one of the game’s biggest problems; aiming. With the L trigger held down, the game will do all of the aiming for you, meaning all a player needs to do is hammer the R trigger to dispose of enemies – there’s always plenty of ammo, and the enemies are intellectually challenges and can’t take a lot of lead, so players will find themselves blitzing through the run and gun sequences the game is built on.

In the Bond universe, guns don't cast shadows, and are therefore considered vampiric

In the Bond universe, guns don't cast shadows, and are therefore considered vampiric
Along the way, Bond gets a number of nifty gadgets from the Q lab such as the Q-Copter, the laser watch and the rappel, but these never really play much significance in the overall game. At various times throughout the game, you’ll get to drive cars and speed boats, get a jet pack and hop behind the stock standard machine gun turret. The jetpacks are really cool, but you don’t get to play with them for very long, and those particular sequences are extremely easy. Driving is rather terrible; something EA hasn’t learnt from their previous Bond games – the car handles like a brick on wheels, and the action in the driving sequences is cookie cutter, and very straightforward.

While only clocking in at eight (ridiculously easy) hours, From Russia With Love offers a reasonable amount of bonus content to reward players, but you’ll find that it’s really quite easy to fulfil the requirements to unlock this stuff on your first run. There’s a decent amount of customisation for weapons and such if you find schematics hidden around the level, but players won’t have any trouble making do with what the game provides initially. A multiplayer component has been added to the game, but is seriously unfulfilling, offering the straight up lock-on shooting mechanics of the single player game for four players in split-screen. Not even the dogfights on the jetpacks offer an interesting multiplayer experience.

Some soldiers will go to extremes to avoid a pat on the bum from Sean

Some soldiers will go to extremes to avoid a pat on the bum from Sean
EA’s Bond games have always been covered in layers of slick presentation and high production values, and From Russia With Love is no exception, featuring plenty of glossy cutscenes and a nice interface. The game is quite polished graphically, with EA getting the most out of their deal with EON Productions by using the likeness of the characters featured in the movie version, meaning you not only get to see Connery as 007, but the original M and Q and such. The models are highly detailed, and feature impressive animation in the cutscenes, although the in game movement is somewhat worse. The set pieces from the movie have been recreated quite well, but there’s not anywhere near as much detail as one would expect, but everything gels together well enough. The big problem comes down to the game’s framerate, which can get bogged down when explosions appear on screen, which is a shame, because From Russia With Love has fairly spectacular pyrotechnic effects. Sean Connery provides his own voice work for the game, which is more of a curse than a blessing. Mr Connery is getting on, and his Scottish accent is thicker than ever, making his line delivery slightly less coherent than we’d have hoped. The more famous lines from the movie are delivered with the same flair you’d hear in the 1963 film, but more standardised dialogue is not really Mr Connery’s forte. The rest of the cast is voiced by a team of particularly talented sound-a-likes, which manage to make one slightly less disappointed about Connery’s performance. The soundtrack features a lot of classic Bond themes, and there’s nothing particularly wrong with the sound effects, especially in Dolby Digital 5.1.

In the end, it feels like EA made From Russia With Love because they had to have a Bond title out this Christmas. The game has the nailed the overall Bond feel, but the gameplay is unspectacular and straightforward, which undermines the whole experience. As an adaptation, the game is particularly bad – why did EA not choose a more action packed Bond adventure? Their production team can’t really make up action-packed subplots on the level of the source material (as evidenced by the crappy additional sequences), already made apparent by many other EA licensed efforts – they really end up being more disrespectful of the source material as a result. From Russia With Love is a rental at best, even for the most die hard Bond fan.
The Score
From Russia With Love is far too easy and unsatisfying to do justice to the source material. 5
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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8 years ago
I was hoping this game would turn out good icon_sad.gif

I'm a huge Bond fan and I hate seeing what has happened to the name in the videogame world post-Goldeneye (EoN excluded).
8 years ago
"In Soviet Russia, game plays you"

I laughed so much when I read that.
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