From Russia With Love
Introduction: in the following text you’ll find out just what it is I dislike about the latest James Bond game, From Russia With Love, a third person action game on the Playstation 2.
For starters, the story is very poor. Sure, the promo-team has spared no efforts to fool everybody into believing it’s true to the movie being set in the era of the cold war blah blah blah. The only thing this story manages to do, is destroy what I feel is one of the best Bond-movies and one the greatest pockets written by Fleming. They took tiny fragments and turning-points from the film and build the story around those pre-rendered cut-scenes. Does that work? Of course not: in case you did not know: adapting isn’t equal to pressing crtl-c/ctrl-v all the time. If Bruce Feirstein (screenplay writer for Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough) adapted his school-assignments in a similar way, it would not be hard for the teacher to tell which friend he copied it from. But perhaps, that is just what he did because although the last four movies caught the attention of sixteen-year-old action junkies, they are nothing more than mediocre action flics which would mean nothing without Bond’s name on it, same goes for this game too. In fact the only good thing about a contemporary 007-movie is the intro because it reminds me of the epic films from long ago. Seeking for salvation in a video-game, where the story is often less important, written by a man who doesn’t even bother to write quality for a movie is foolish, I know. The thing is however, that he once succeeded to create Everything Or Nothing. Unfortunately though, his latest work lacks coherence, excitement, intrigue and it is so fucking hypocrite it makes me mad. Because the one thing that makes the movie great (to which the game is oh so faithful!), is that Bond stood true to the original, detective character who relied on his whit and instincts to get the job done rather than on state-of-the-art, technological gadgets. But do you think they sincerely apologize? Nooooh, instead of doing so, the advertisers presented this as a nifty feature. “Step into the world of the classical James Bond”, my ass!
Classic Gadgets Made Modern—Equip yourself with an array of classic weapons and gadgets updated with unique 21st century twists.
Although it makes me furious, I am much more disappointed than anything else and it costs me a lot of effort not to show it. Luckily, I am not the only one who is bad at hiding his discontent. Through Sean Connery’s voice-acting you can clearly hear the voice of a man feeling powerless to what the system has become. The unbearable regret that he actively contributes to the cause he despises so much would have driven any normal man to desperate measures. Yep, it takes a man of steel like Connery to channel his anger and just like the powerful steam-locomotive knows how to conduct that tiny bit of pressure it cannot handle through a whistle, the legendary actor only has one exhaust valve as well. Too bad, that the game is a mindreader interpreting and blowing-up every negative thought that came to his mind or if you don’t like scribomania: his voice-acting is lazy and uninspired.
We are not there yet though because the compared to the proportional importance of the gameplay the sound is magnificent meaning I will have to find a word that expresses the square quantity of lousiness which “sucks” expresses. Perhaps I should say that FRWL doesn’t focus on hardcore Quake-players but this game literally feels as if it was made for people as smart as a parrot. Okay, so it is made for Bond fans with no gaming skills but what do those people expect? That’s right, Connery-style 007 but you get the complete opposite from this game. There used to be a time when they knew what priorities where about: first make decent gameplay, if we got time left add fun stuff. Now, they just wonder about doing what they feel like that particular day: “Hey, I know we haven’t started on the engine yet but today I am going to make some alternative options so we can say the game is not lineair”. My guess is that by the end of the day he got tired of it but didn’t want to waste a hard days work.
The engine people on the other hand were over-enthusiastic because you don’t have to do anything yourself anymore but pulling the trigger: just press the L1 and the auto-targeting system not only points at the enemy, it locks on to them as well. What about Bond-focus then? It’s almost the same thing: first lock-on, then press square to zoom in on the target and put a yellow dot into a circle which marks a place on the enemy. They refer to that as manually but it is just as manually as getting a blow-job. The comparison goes further because just like jerking of is a lot of work for a minimal amount of pleasure, shooting with manual aim on a controller isn’t the simplest thing. When a double auto-aiming system let’s you shoot at grenades hanging on the adversary’s belt causing the soldier to explode instantly, I cannot see what is a manual about that. I know, I loved it in EoN but there it all worked properly, it responded quickly, it made you feel as if you were the world’s most sophisticated secret agent yourself. For FRWL, they tried to expend the possibilities somewhat but without putting too much effort into it. And please don’t get me started about that pathetic hand-to-hand combat system, it is bad enough as it is.
In an interview, an executive promised that Bond would be able to jump. That sounded great, I was hoping for some Tombraider-like jump puzzles which is actually what I got right in the first level. Sadly however, you still cannot jump yourself so in order to sweep across the chandeliers you just put yourself on the edge in order to make “press X to jump” appear. If this would have appeared quite easily with Bond immediately knowing he must jump, it would have been acceptable but no they couldn’t bother to test it twice. I figure it is only a matter of raising the value of one or two variables so that the square-area you must be in to trigger the event becomes large enough to be comfortable.
Besides that, I figure it is time to stop comparing things with sex which has becoming surprisingly difficult but I can’t bother to come up with something better. The developers think of me as a lazy son of a bitch anyhow. Why else would they produce a game which requires the same amount of input a DVD does, at least you have to press play only once. If the movie gets boring, you’ll fall asleep, push the eject button after waking-up and you can consider the movie to be seen. So, from that point of view FRWL requires a whole lot of patience to play through. One could compare it to drudgery. Copying entire books by and on uncomfortable wooden benches must have been a cruel task as it took them months to copy one work. Of course these texts where of gigantic lengths so once again FRWL wouldn’t have required that much work. I guess it could serve to boost the monk spirit: he copied one page and at the end of the day he could say he copied an entire book. His fellow monks never had to know that book only had one page, table of contents included.
Another promise they realised through all kind of phoney solutions is the integration of vehicles and ordinary levels. You’ll be driving from one point to another and you can only get out once you’ve pulled up into the destination circle which once again made me want to bash my controller. You see, the driving mechanism is so extremely crappy, you think they borrowed the technique from the utterly disgusting Spyhunter 2. You can’t touch the controller or it swings around and it brakes so fearcely that you’ll always end up going reverse (hence the frustration to stop in the circle and of course the same problem of a too small area to invoke the action makes it even worse). However, if you want to get from reverse to first you’ll be bothered with a stupid delay which is completely wrong in the context. And even if the handling was fun, the catch-up system from ever returning enemy cars which are always completely identical stinks so hard, you just cannot believe it’s true. At least, in EoN these vehicle-missions were exciting and a welcome change. Now you are praying to God that you won’t have to drive to the location yourself. Of course, these prayers didn’t help which makes sense being the non-believer that I am so the logical explanation must be that otherwise the game could be finished in two hours which is all the time you will waste with it because who, for crying out loud, is going to amuse himself with unlocking multiplayer bonus material if you don’t want fancy playing a lousy game in split-screen anyway.
Everyone seems to be enthusiastic about From Russia With Love but the latest Bond game doesn’t mean squat shit if you ask me. Sure it gets reasonably high scores but for my part, I could save the score using one bit only (zero or one, that I leave up to you). Destroying previous success-formula’s is what EA seems to be good at these days because let’s face it, they elaborate a good concept disgustingly bad (Goldeneye) or recycle old stuff into average and sometimes decent games (Most Wanted). It seems however, that they like to build sequels that cannot live up to the predecessor too like they have done now with From Russia With Love. Is it because of the complete failure Goldeneye that many are so enthusiastic of this one or can’t people see invisible walls anymore? I bought Agent Under Fire (the first PS2 bond game) recently for 10 euro on Ebay and (although it obviously doesn’t differ all too much from a PS1-game) I had some great fun with it. Sure it was simple but at least everything worked and you get some good old fun out of it. Beats the shear stupidity from the last two games if you ask me.