So this week marks the 19th birthday of Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64. That game was released 19 years ago. Take a moment to let that sink in. Aside from making me feel far older than a 21 year old should, it gave me a great idea for this week’s article. 007 has had quite a number of video game outings, with varying degrees of success, so I’m going to be ranking them from worst to best.
There are three exclusions from this list, and those are: Goldeneye 007 itself, which is pretty clearly the best, and arguably one of the best FPS games of all time. Goldeneye: Reloaded (all versions) will also be excluded – its a great game but lets focus on the non-Goldeneye games. Finally, I’ll only be counting the action shooter games. Partly because I’ve never played any of the others (they were a little before my time), but mostly because side-scrollers, racing games and text based adventures wouldn’t really fit anywhere on this list.
Well, enough of that, lets get to it!
To be honest, as far as video game adaptations go, 007 has done well to only have one that’s particularly bad. 007 Legends was released to celebrate the 50th anniversary, and considering it was the video game counterpart to Skyfall, it was painfully disappointing. Starting off during the train top fistfight from Skyfall’s opening, Bond is shot and falls into the watery depths below. His lack of oxygen causes him to flash back to some of his greatest adventures. Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Licence to Kill, Die Another Day and Moonraker serve as the settings for a series of uninteresting shooting galleries. As you move from one set piece to the next, shooting anyone that gets in your way, it feels more like Call of Duty than James Bond, but without the finesse and polish the blockbuster series has perfected by now. Familiar faces trigger a little nostalgia, but it isn’t enough to save this game from mediocrity.
Quantum of Solace
It’s hardly surprising that one of the most forgettable Bond movies spawned a pretty forgettable tie-in videogame. As far as 3rd person shooters go, QoS is adequate, if a little clunky, but the visuals were pretty impressive for the time, and it allowed us to play through not only the story from QoS, but also featured a few flashback missions from Casino Royale. All in all, there’s nothing blatantly terrible about this game, but its not one that will stick in your mind for very long after the credits roll.
2010s 007 Blood Stone suffered a similar fate. Its an incredibly difficult game to write about. Theres nothing abhorrently bad with it, it’s just sort of…there. If you have a spare afternoon and a bit of spare cash lying around, it could provide an afternoon of fun. It’s well voiced by Daniel Craig, Judi Dench and Joss Stone (who also provides an outstanding theme song), and the shooter gameplay is functional. A lackluster online mode and forgettable story hold it back though.
Agent Under Fire
This is where we’re starting to move into the territory of the good games now. Agent Under Fire for the Playstation 2 was an action packed first person shooter, with a Bond who looked too much like Pierce Brosnan to be anyone else, but also didn’t look like him at all. Such confusion in my childhood. Such confusion. Anyway, the story revolved around Bond foiling a plot to replace various world leaders with clones, and took him all the way around the world and down to the depths of the ocean. The plot is completely ridiculous, especially for a Bond story, but its fun and keeps the action chugging along at a steady pace, so I’m not complaining. It also features one of my favourite vehicle segments in any game, offering a diverse range of weaponry to play through as you crash your way through the streets of Budapest.
Tomorrow Never Dies
After Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies was my first experience with a Bond game. A surprisingly adequate third person shooter for the time, this PS1 classic followed the story of the movie. Media mogul Elliot Carver has devious plans for Nuclear destruction, and it’s up to Bond and Wei Lin – a Chinese agent – to stop him. Using actual clips from the movie helped with pushing the story along, and intense gunfights kept my young self entertained for hours. Not to mention the fact that you got to play as Wei Lin for a while, and when I was but a young lad, playing various characters in the same game (outside of fighting games obviously) completely blew my mind! I was a simple child.
From Russia With Love
This was a surprise hit for me. Throwing things back to the Sean Connery era, but putting some flashy third person shooter mechanics on it was a pretty great idea. I first played it on my sister’s PSP in the car during a family holiday, but when I got home I found the console version and bought it straight away. A nifty feature allowed you to precisely aim at certain spots on an enemy’s body. This made it extremely satisfying to pull off headshots, snap the rope that enemies used to rappel down walls, and even shoot grenades on their belt to blow everyone to hell. Throw in a few jetpack segments and a car chase or two and we have something pretty damn good.
The World is Not Enough
Following Tomorrow Never Dies, TWINE took things back to first person mode. Following pretty faithfully to the film, the game took you on an adventure to stop the villainous Renard before he takes over the world’s oil market via a nuclear attack (these Bond villains really like their nukes). If I remember rightly, this was my favourite Bond movie at the time, so playing through the intense set pieces – such as the helicopter with the hanging buzzsaws, or the intense chase ending on a hot air balloon – was particularly exciting for me.
Everything or Nothing
If nothing else, Everything or Nothing had star power behind it, both in terms of cast and characters. Supermodel Heidi Klum and the brilliant Willem Dafoe lent their voiced to the game, and classic henchman Jaws made a return to torment Bond once more in a number of intense boss battles. EoN also had an original story, and took the gameplay back into the third person realm. Gunplay and hand to hand combat felt right, the cover system worked pretty well (especially for the time), and a handful of intense vehicle segments just put the cherry on top.
Unlike the other games on this list, Nightfire is so high up because of it’s multiplayer. Don’t get me wrong, it had a solid single player campaign, but I have plenty of memories of going head to head with friends in the splitscreen multiplayer. In my opinion, Nightfire had the best splitscreen since Goldeneye, with some wide open maps, a variety of characters and weapons to choose from, and the ability to add up to 8 AI bots to populate them. The single player also delivered a solid experience, taking Bond across the globe and even into space on his mission to save the world from a fiery fate at the hands of a psychotic villain with access to – you guessed it – nuclear missiles!
Goldeneye: Rogue Agent
Oooooh controversial. Critically, this game was a mixed bag. Some people loved it, some hated it. I’m in the first crowd. Strangely enough, this game doesn’t even feature Bond as more than a cameo. Instead you play as an ex-MI6 agent, disgraced for being overly brutal. Recruited by Auric Goldfinger to assassinate Dr No, Rogue Agent brings back plenty of familiar faces, as well as some meaty gameplay to get stuck into. The unnamed agent is augmented with some funky upgrades, including a prosthetic eye, which allows him to see enemies through walls, as well as some other cool features. Plus, Rogue Agent gives a huge array of weapons to play with, and even the ability to dual wield. Admittedly, Rogue Agent isn’t for everyone due it’s darker tone, lack of Bond-isms (no gadgets, girls or cars here), and the fact that Bond himself isn’t the central protagonist, but despite all of this, and despite being one of the more challenging FPS games I’ve ever played, Rogue Agent still sits in my memory as my favourite Bond game…aside from Goldeneye…obviously.
Lets be honest, plenty of you will probably disagree with my list. These are MY favourite games, and sure some of them are for subjective reasons, but Bond has had an undeniably successful run in the video game world. Aside from a few hiccups (only one of which was completely bad), so heres the future of Fleming’s superspy. Let me know what you think of the Bond games in the comments!
Until next week, keep gaming guys!
…That was this week’s VuePoint!!! Check back on Tuesday for a new BearSleuth Opinion Piece!!!