Over the years, the James Bond movies have provided the movie-going public with a glimpse into the life of a playboy superspy - the gadgets, the espionage, the fast women, and the faster cars. While the Bond movies have been turned into games countless times, none of the games have provided the focus of 007 Racing. EA's latest Bond game centers on 007's vehicular endeavors, giving you a heavily armed and armored car and a laundry list of objectives. While the game sounds like an interesting and excellent idea, in execution, it struggles in too many areas to warrant a recommendation.
The game lets you drive various Bond cars that have appeared throughout his movie exploits, such as the Aston Martin DB5, BMW 750, BMW Z8, Lotus Esprit, and BMW Z3. Each car handles slightly differently, though none of them handle particularly well. Each car can be outfitted with different items, such as rockets, missiles, machine guns, shields, smoke screens, and oil slicks. Only one item can be equipped at a time, and you automatically switch to an item when you pick it up. This leads to problems when you're trying to line up a rocket shot and accidentally run over a new weapon - you're forced to cycle through the weapons one at a time, wasting precious seconds. The weapon troubles don't stop there. Your rockets are side-mounted, alternating fire from the left and right sides of your car. If you don't keep track of exactly which side of your car is the next to fire, lining up even midrange rocket shots is needlessly difficult. A set of crosshairs would have been a big help here. Add the aiming difficulties to the sluggish nature of the game's various vehicles, and you've got a recipe for frustration. Even when traveling at high speeds, the cars can't whip around fast enough for you to line up an accurate shot. Since taking an extra second or two to line up a shot usually leads to the cars getting too close to your car, you'll end up damaging yourself with the close explosions. The game has a couple of two-player modes: a standard deathmatch mode and a pass-the-bomb mode. Neither mode is particularly entertaining, because the game doesn't have the solid arcade-style control of your average car combat game.
007 Racing looks decent but definitely fails to impress. There's a lot of texture warping, and most of the game's textures look extremely muddy. It's easy to forgive these flaws when you're driving at high speeds, but considering you spend quite a bit of the game moving at average or low speeds, you have plenty of time to marvel at the game's subpar graphics. The sound has its plusses and minuses as well. The Pierce Brosnan sound-alike does an admirable job of imitating the big-screen 007, and most of the game's voices are well done. However, the in-mission chidings from Q are extremely repetitive and frequent enough to make you want to simply turn the game's sound off altogether. The music, however, delivers a decent soundtrack of tunes appropriate for the Bond universe.
The game's varied mission objectives occasionally give it a Driver-like feel, but the clunky control issues really manage to take you out of the game. The heavily modified Need for Speed engine is great for the fast action, fast driving missions, but the slower-paced, more combat-heavy levels suffer from the game's rough control. Overall, 007 Racing isn't polished enough to fill the needs of objective-based driving game fans. Fans of these types of games would be better served by Driver 2.