Get Shaken and Stirred with Nightfire
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Whether attending an elite cocktail party for a billionaire madman or storming the beaches of his private fortified island, today's elite superspy needs to be deadly and well-dressed. 007 Nightfire does an excellent job of capturing the flavor of the James Bond world, and providing a lot of action to boot.
Basically, the game is a shooter, with some extra elements added in to give the game a bit of flavor. Each mission has certain Bond-like things you can do that will give you extra points and trigger the way-cool theme song. You don't have to perform the Bond-moves to solve a level, and in fact some of them are very difficult to find. But doing so normally gets you something extra in addition to the bonus points.
As an example, there is a mission where you need to rescue an informant from his Japanese mansion. The problem is that it is currently under siege by Yakuza thugs. After you spirit him away to his secret bunker, he refuses to completely leave his house with you unless you can rescue all his beautiful serving girls, which are being held hostage. Using your X-Ray glasses, you can look through walls to see if there are thugs in the next room as you travel. And since the walls are paper-thin, you can shoot through them, killing your surprised opponents without risking your own life.
One girl is being held in a little building surrounded by a fish pond. You can charge down the only hallway entering the building, shooting it out with bad guys the traditional way, or you can perform a Bond move. If you go outside, you find a little string of lamps. You can go hand over hand across the wire, getting credit for a Bond move, and then use your silenced pistol to take out the thug guarding the girl, getting her to safety very quietly and with little mess. Either way works, but the latter is more spy-like.
Some of the missions in the game are more thinking oriented, and some are more combat oriented. The thinking missions are much more within the flavor of the 007 genre than the combat ones. One mission had me running through the jungle killing hundreds of mercenaries without much thinking involved. I began to feel like I was playing Soldier of Fortune instead of an elite spy thriller. Most missions ran the gamut between the two.
It's worth noting that the PC and console versions of the game are completely different. And frankly, the console version of the game is much better. When playing on a console, you get to drive your Aston Martin V12 around Paris and Austria, using both your driving skill and your gadgets to destroy bad guys. On the PC, the only time you get into a car is during a cutscene. There are some interesting missions on the PC too, like climbing up the outside of a building and having to watch to make sure nobody inside the glass sees you as you skinny upwards. And you get to use your X-ray glasses at a party to see who is packing heat, and which guests are wearing sexy underwear to boot. But for the most part, the really, really fun missions are in the console version.
For graphics quality, it will depend again whether you are playing on the PC or the console. On the console, the game looks very good compared to everything else on the market at the moment. It's at least above average. On the PC however, while the graphics are passable, there are much better games out there. Things tend to pixel up when you get too close, though there are a lot of nice touches like the rendering of people, which look highly realistic.
Of course on the PC side, there is an emphasis on multiplayer. You can be Bond villains from history like OddJob and Jaws, which makes for some interesting online gaming.
I've never experienced a title before where the PC and console versions are completely different, and I am not sure I like it. If EA is going to offer two different games, then they should have two different names. It makes more sense from a marketing point of view too. I mean, I played all the way though the PC version of the game and normally would not think of picking up the console version too. But since it's a different, and in this case a better, game then why not? EA is treating the fact that the games are different like a trade secret, or at least not promoting the fact. Perhaps they thought console gamers would be jealous if they thought the PC gamers had an individual game. But trust me, the console people make out a lot better and have a lot better variety of missions.
007 Nightfire is a fun game to play, but it could have been a lot more, especially on the PC side. I just finished playing Hitman 2, and although the premise of that game is different, it does a lot more with being able to sneak around maps and solve problems in a non-linear way. Perhaps 007 should take a clue from Hitman's Agent 47 next time around.
For an action-packed shooter with some really interesting side elements, 007 Nightfire fits the bill. Hardcore Bond fans may be a bit disappointed with the lack of gadgets and Bond-like elements, especially on the PC side. But the game is fun nonetheless and earns a highly respectable 4.5 GiN Gems.
John Breeden II is the Chief Editor of GiN. While a forward thinking man he admits to a fondness for older video games. You should have seen him at Videotopia. John can be contacted at : firstname.lastname@example.org.