James Bond 007: NightFire
By Bryn Williams
| Dec 6, 2002
Britain's indestructible spy deals out decent FPS death and destruction.
Ian Fleming's suave spy from across the pond is back in another digital adventure spanning Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2 and PC. On her majesty's secret service one more time, James Bond's new outing is strangely not based on the new box office hit -- Die Another Day -- but instead is an all-new mission created by UK developer Eurocom and published by EA. NightFire is primarily a decent first-person spy shooter with all the gadgets, babes, and guns that make for a slick game. It's easy to pick up and play, but it doesn't last half as long as it probably should.
The video game history of 007 has been pretty weird to date. Save for a few really bad 8-bit Commodore 64 titles late last decade -- Domark's 1985 title A View to a Kill springs to mind -- and of course Rare's seminal N64 shooter Goldeneye, old Jimmy Bond has had quite a strange career. Traditionally, the platform of choice for FPS games has quite rightly been the PC, and although NightFire does make an appearance on keyboard and mouse, its best enjoyed on the trio of consoles -- more specifically, the Microsoft Xbox.
Commander Bond finds himself slung into yet another devious plot to take over the known world by a single, nutty rich male, and as always, it'll be up to you to shoot, drive, swim, and gadget the rest of the planet's ignorant peons to safety. International green industrialist and madman du jour, Raphael Drake, might appear squeaky clean on the outside, but recent intelligence suggests otherwise.
It seems as though Drake is warped enough to try and steal missile guidance technology for a new U.S. Space Weapons Platform, thus giving him a firm but deadly grip over the world's economies, safety, and existence. You guessed it. The British secret service sends 007 in to trash Drake's plans, snog all the babes -- evil, good, and just plain helpless -- and save the day.
In order to accomplish his 12-stage goal, Bond will partake in some great first-person shooter action, some less-than-great, but still cool, vehicle chases -- which are sadly omitted from the PC game -- and plenty of sneaky stealth stuff. It's worth noting that Bond's boss, M, and his gadget man, Q, are frequently in touch via radio transmissions to guide you through the stages. This makes the game very simplistic in terms of puzzle-solving exercises, but overall it adds to the Bond-esque nature of the game.
When the action is good, it's really good. The FPS levels are highly polished, and are as slick as 007 himself. Excellent framerates, no slowdown, and subtle lighting effects pave the way for solid, good-looking gameplay. Unfortunately, the enemy AI leaves a lot to be desired. I know that generally speaking, archenemy henchmen are a little slow in the brains department, but these guys are really dumb. Still, it only makes shooting them in the back of the head all the more entertaining!
With a myriad of different control configs to choose from, you're sure to find a setup that will allow you to move Bond along with total confidence. Most of the FPS stages are staggered into three or more sub-levels, allowing progression to take place at a non-frustrating pace. 007's lineup of toys includes the ever-useful watch laser -- good for melting iron safe hinges and confusing remote satchel charges -- as well as the cool key stun gun and even some sweet-ass night vision Oakleys. The trusty grappling hook / PDA is also in effect as is a new credit card-sized digital camera. Although these toys are always on your person, you'll only really need to use them at certain points throughout the game -- something that might disappoint would-be spies a little.