Review: James Bond 007: Nightfire
Posted 10 Apr 2003 at 01:28 by Andy
Electronic Arts tap into their MGM/Bond license yet again to bring us the long awaited 'Nightfire' announced only weeks after the rather disappointing 'Agent Under Fire' was released. Obviously from a console game point of view you couldn't really wish for richer source material and this latest outing even has a licensed Pierce Brosnan likeness as the main character. What's even more remarkable is that, once again, 'Nightfire' is based on the Bond franchise as a whole and not any movie in particular, although the 'original' storyline features everyone's favorite secret agent in adventures that may feel familiar to those who watch the films. We are however all still waiting for the 'Goldeneye' beater. EA promised that this game would address everything that was wrong with the first one but does it? Graphics:
'Nightfire' looks absolutely wonderful. You'll wander around (still getting shot at) some of the FPS levels, just admiring the stunning visuals. It is especially evident whenever game strategy means you are slower moving as the attention to detail is truly admirable. Zooming in with your sniper rifle illustrates just how good the environments actually are and as well as letting you see some considerable way into the distance, it also opens up a whole world you wouldn't otherwise even notice. In addition some dramatic real time lighting effects create a wonderful atmosphere. This not only enhances the powerful visuals but also means you can use the shadows to avoid enemies and cameras. There are also a handful of driving levels, which while impressive have nothing on the FPS sections. That is not to say they're at all bad, but more that Eurocom have done an outstanding job with one of the most impressive FPS engines seen on a console and the fact that it runs at an astounding 60 frames per second makes it the new benchmark in GameCube shooters.
The sound in this latest Bond outing is nothing short of stunning, in fact the whole experience appears to have the production values of a big screen outing. This is evident when you first boot up the game and you're treated to a wonderful Bond-esque theme tune performed by Esthero, which is significantly better than the Madonna effort that accompanied 'Die Another Day'. This level of quality is maintained throughout the Nightfire experience with some expertly recorded dialogue (which unfortunately sounds nothing like Pierce Brosnan) and some highly atmospheric sound effects. Everything is then tied up into a very neat package with the classic Bond theme and if that doesn't make you feel like a secret agent then quite frankly nothing will.
Like 'Agent Under Fire' this latest Bond outing has you completing a variety of missions based on an original storyline whilst utilizing elements that have or certainly could feature in the movies. These are presented as a main objective and then a checklist of sub-tasks must be fulfilled in order to complete the mission. The whole game is played out by tackling three basic gaming types: First Person Shooter, an 'on the rails' style mission and a Third Person Driving game. The most freedom is undoubtedly given in the FPS sections where you can choose to complete most missions in a variety of different ways with your most basic choices coming down to stealth or an all out gun battle. The driving games generally challenge you to get from A to B while gunning down other moving vehicles along the way although the underwater section requires more in the way of avoidance skills than an ability to hit a target.
All your missions are aided by the various Q Gadgets that appear in your inventory although it's generally a bit too obvious as to when to actually use them. They are truly ingenious though and advanced weapons, such as the missile launcher with an onboard camera for guidance, make hitting a moving object somewhat simpler. Most of your ammunition is limited so shooting wisely (especially with the sniper rifle) is incredibly important. Firepower apart you're also equipped with the latest code-cracking device. This does get you in to most rooms with little effort but we found it a bit fiddly to use initially and the manual gives little in the way of specific guidance.
As with the last outing you can increase your score significantly by performing 'Bond Moves'. In short this encourages you to utilize your gadgets and secret agent know-how to approach things from a different angle. For example, and without giving too much away, one level challenges you to enter a building through an air conditioning unit. You could go the easy way where the cover has already been removed, however seeking out a different, locked entrance allows you to use your laser watch and drop into the building on a platform concealed by a pile of boxes and hey presto a Bond Move is awarded. There are generally around three or four of these opportunities in each of the missions and they're well worth perusing as they not only add points but also make the whole experience a lot more rewarding.
The multiplayer section provides much needed extended game play once you've completed the main game. Eurocom have done a truly outstanding job here producing a fully featured and immensely entertaining mode. It includes everything from the now obligatory 'Deathmatch' to, another favorite, 'Catch the Flag'. Keep in mind that this is a Bond title so there are also some secret agent inspired games such as 'Industrial Espionage' which challenges you to retrieve blueprints before your opponents. All of these modes are available for anything from two to four player and you also have the option to throw up to six fully customizable AI bots into the mix. The slight snag is that not all multiplayer bouts are available from the start; some need to be unlocked from within the main game meaning a good score is even more important.
There's a good chance you won't be able to put Nightfire down. This is one of the few titles I've encountered recently with that hypnotic 'just one more go' quality. The pacing and the swapping of genres by the developers mean you're always interested in what's coming next. It's also a title with an almost flawless learning curve seamlessly woven into the opening levels and although the control layout changes in each level it's always immediately apparent what buttons to press.
The single player lifespan is completely dependent on how high you wish to score and just what you wish to unlock although bear in mind that many of these enhance the multiplayer game. There are real challenges here though even on the medium or 'Agent' setting and some sections feature truly mind-bending puzzles. Even so you're unlikely to sample the single player again once you've figured it all out but get yourself a few friends and the multiplayer should keep you occupied for some time.
After the rather inconsistent 'Agent Under Fire' I can't say that 'Nightfire' was on my 'must have' list especially as FPS related games appear to be growing in number almost every week for the GameCube. The good news here though is that industry veterans Eurocom have done an outstanding job and everything about the game feels solid and well designed. This is undoubtedly the best outing for Mr. Bond and Co. to date and the fact that it's all based around an incredibly solid engine makes it essential for any GameCube owner.
N-Europe Final Verdict
A huge improvement on ‘Agent Under Fire' and possibly as close as we'll get to the Bond title we've all been waiting for.
Looks Like Pierce Brosnan
Doesn't Sound Like Pierce Brosnan