From Russia With Love E3 2005 Hands-On
We go hands-on with this retro Bond game at E3 2005.
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It's probably safe to say that Bond games just were starting to get stagnant until EA's James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing came along last year. Taking the series from the first person to the third person, EoN provided one of the most accurate and fun representations of what it must be like to be the suave secret agent himself. So, how do you improve on that? One good way is to bring back the original, and best, Bond: namely, Sean Connery. From Russia With Love is the newest third-person Bond game, and it hearkens back to the Bond film of the same name, going altogether retro in style but not in feel. The game is on display at E3 2005, and we got our hands on the playable demo.
Two levels were available in the demo we played. In the first level, we find 007 at a swank party, chatting it up with the bartender and just looking generally smooth. Suddenly, armed soldiers burst in and crash the party, kidnapping a female victim. What's a secret agent to do in such a situation? Why, blow everyone away, of course. Here we got our first taste of the shooting mechanics in the game. If you played Everything or Nothing, you should be able to get a good feel for how the mechanics work. You target an enemy with the left trigger, which sets up an autolock, and then you fire with the right trigger button. If you're in a good position or have properly sneaked up on an enemy without alerting him to your presence, you can press a button to essentially enter a Bond vision mode. Here, you'll get three icons that appear on an enemy. If you press up, the reticle will settle over the enemy's head, and you can get a quick headshot. If you tap it down, you'll settle over the waist belt of the enemy. And if you shoot it, you'll set off an explosion due to the grenades attached to the belt. As you might imagine, any enemies nearby will be appropriately blown up.
As we progressed through the level, we found ourselves blasting away at lots of enemies, occasionally taking cover and generally not having a whole lot of trouble. And then came the jetpack... If you remember the Bond film Thunderball (1965), you'll remember the crazy jetpack. Well, it's here in all its glory. (Though the film From Russia With Love was released in 1963, predating Thunderball, how could you not have both the jetpack and Sean Connery's voice in the same game?) And it's actually a pretty cool mechanic. Once you don the pack, you'll use one button to raise yourself higher and another to lower yourself. The pack is equipped with a machine gun and a rocket launcher, and as we raised ourselves up into the air, we were fired upon by numerous soldiers hanging off of the mother of all London landmarks, Big Ben. After picking them off, more jetpack-sporting foes began coming from out of nowhere. We quickly dispatched them, only to find a large helicopter now in our path. The previously kidnapped woman was on board, and it was up to us to bring it down. The helicopter moved in a quick and evasive fashion, dodging a lot of our fire. As we got the timing of our shots down, the copter then became more aggressive, periodically charging at us. Thankfully, the game features a dodge move that quickly pushes you off to one side, avoiding any horrible amounts of damage. Once we finally took the copter down, it began to explode in spectacular fashion. In a cutscene, Bond then flew to the copter and grabbed the kidnapped woman, flying away just in the nick of time. We know what you're wondering. Yes, Bond most definitely got the girl.
The next level came from a significantly later portion of the game. Here, we found ourselves in a chop shop, with more enemy soldiers firing at us. For the most part, this level closely resembled the previous one in terms of action, with more jetpack action and the shooting of bad guys. However, here is where we got a look at one new mechanic, which is the Q-copter. A typical Q-style gadget, this little minicopter could be selected from our inventory, and once you launch it, it will fly anywhere you direct it, giving you a security cam-styled view of whatever's around you. This will give you valuable recon info regarding any enemies in the vicinity, but it also acts as a weapon, as you can blow the thing up, thus taking out any nearby enemies.
The look of the game closely resembles the same graphics of Everything or Nothing, though with a decidedly more retro feel, given the game's time period. Everything in the demo had a nice, clean look to it, and it all animated well. Plenty of explosions popped up all over the place, showing off nice-looking particle effects and the general destruction of environments. The one aspect of the game we really weren't able to get a good bearing on, however, was the voice acting. There were at least a few scenes featuring Sean Connery, but it seemed like dialogue taken directly from the film rather than anything newly recorded, although we were assured that the dialogue was from Connery's recent voice recording sessions, so maybe it was just the din of E3 itself that confused us, and made the dialogue sound weird.
All told, our time spent with From Russia With Love was quite enjoyable. The game is very much like Everything or Nothing, but we certainly don't consider that a bad thing. Very little actual plot was shown during the demo levels, so it's tough to really gauge how well the game will tell the story of the film, as well as how much new stuff will be in there. We will say, however, that we are quite excited to find out, and we hope to get our hands on the game again soon. From Russia With Love is due to hit current-generation consoles this November. We'll bring you more on the game in the coming weeks.