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James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing

Platform(s): Game Boy Advance, GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox
Genre: Action
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: EA Redwood Shores
Release Date: Feb. 17, 2004 (US), Feb. 27, 2004 (EU)


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Gamecube Review - '007: Everything or Nothing'

by Agustin on March 8, 2004 @ 2:14 a.m. PST

In James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing, players encounter dangerous villains, exotic locations, beautiful women, fast cars, and high-tech gadgetry. The cinematic action-adventure is set in a third-person view that showcases an all-star voice cast.

Buy '007: Everything or Nothing':
Xbox | GameCube | Game Boy Advance | PlayStation 2

I could not resist revealing my full opinion on this title from the get-go: not since Rare's GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64 has there been a James Bond game this good. Since EA grabbed the Bond license from Rare/Nintendo in the late 90's, each Bond release, starting with a PS1 version of Tomorrow Never Dies, has been a near failure gameplay-wise (though not sales-wise!), with the minor exception of Nightfire, developed by the seminal development team at Eurocom. It's been too long since old James has given us such a fun romp through his world, though, as even Nightfire wasn't as good as it could/should have been. Everything or Nothing gives us everything we could have wanted and more, presenting a fresh take on Bond games, which have been sitting in a FPS rut for too long now. Yes, Tomorrow Never Dies was a third-person action game, but it was so bad, we can ignore it's presence.

Before getting any further into this review, I must warn GoldenEye fans of the one major qualm they might have with Everything or Nothing: It is not, by any means, meant to be a successor to GoldenEye. It is first and foremost a third person action/adventure game. Don't even think that this is a third person perspective game posing as an FPS-style experience - it's not. There are some throwbacks to past Bond games, but this is a totally new experience. If anything, it is more in the vein of games like Kill.Switch, Winback, and yes, even Metal Gear Solid. EA's internal development team has finally shaken the need to live up to Rare/Nintendo's classic Bond game - though they are developing a direct sequel to that game, which may negate all that Everything or Nothing has worked to prove, but that's another subject altogether.

Everything or Nothing follows the same mission structure as previous Bond games: you can choose to play on three levels of difficulty, those being Operative, Agent, and 00 Agent. Bonus material such as production stills and cheats can be unlocked by playing through each of the difficulties, with the best content obviously reserved for players with the skills to make it through the 00 Agent difficulty setting. I am glad EA chose to stick with this formula, as it does a great job of making the second (and third, and fourth, and fifth) plays through a mission almost as captivating as they were the first time through.

Before each mission, players are given the expected (but very well crafted!) movie-inspired briefings from M and the rest of the James Bond favorites. What separates these parts from their other EA Bond game counterparts is that all of the speech - and, in fact, the entire script for Everything or Nothing - has been written by Bruce Feirstein, who wrote the movies GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, and The World Is Not Enough! The story of Everything or Nothing revolves around a bunch of metal-eating nanomachines that have fallen into the hands of a man named Nikolai Diavolo - a very Bond movie-esque storyline. The jump in quality is obviously evident here, especially in the dialogue, which I will get into a bit more later.

The meat of the game is in the third person shooting stages, where players take Bond through a myriad of crazy settings, overcoming even crazier obstacles and objectives. All sorts of new types of equipment has been introduces to 007's usual arsenal, which greatly expands the possibilities during gameplay, especially the Q-Spider, a remote-controlled spider-like robot that can get into tight spaces, and, if so required, explode.

The first mission throws players right into the middle of a massive, explosion-filled firefight, just like a good Bond game should. As soon as you start playing the game, I can almost guarantee that you will be pulled right in to the captivating experience that this game presents. Don't worry about not knowing what to do once the action starts, though; instructions as to how to work with the controls will be given to you in a near-constant stream for the first few minutes of the mission. While some games start players off with a boring training level, Everything or Nothing gives players the basics in a fun, exciting setting. I wish more games would do this - it is a true sign of quality, in my eyes.

The gameplay works much like Kill.Switch or Winback - you automatically lock on to enemies (as opposed to having to aim completely on your own as with a first person shooter), and are able to use your surroundings as cover by pressing the Z button. This works well in most situations, but when there are more than three enemies attacking you at once, it is kind of annoying to have to switch back and forth between them - in an FPS, you could just pull out a machine gun and make a sweeping motion across them all. Not here. Still, this game was designed with it's limits in mind, so you will not find yourself frustrated by it's controls very often. When locked on, you can use the C-stick to make fine adjustments to your shot, which is one of the most innovative features I've seen in a third person shooter in a long time. It really is helpful, and it does make you feel like you have more control over the game. Retro Studio's/Nintendo's Metroid Prime was a great game, but I think it would have benefited from something like this. It allows you to do what many third person games simply do not allow - body-part specific shots. If you want to put a bullet in your enemies' head, you can. If you want to put a dart in his chest, you can. It's refreshing to have such control over your actions in this type of game! Once again, there is a slight downfall that comes with this feature that may annoy some players (though it did not bother me in the slightest): you cannot adjust the camera while locked on. As for the Z cover function, it works best if you position Bond next to an object for cover. If you, say, walk next to a wall, you can press the Z button to make Bond sidle up against it. You can strafe back and forth against the wall once this function is activated, but Bond will not move away from the wall unless you press the Z button again. What makes this feature different from other games that feature sidling is that you can adjust the camera so you can see what is around the corner, and in most cases lock on to enemies. If you have an enemy locked onto and you press the fire button, Bond will automatically fire around the wall and get right back into his previous position. Many of the best moments in Everything or Nothing will be in deciding how best to use the above features to your advantage. It makes this one of the most exciting games I've played since Metal Gear Solid, and, best of all, it really makes you feel like you are Bond while you're playing.

The game does feature stealth in some missions, though usually you aren't required to use it if you don't want to. If you have the skills to sneak up behind guards and disable them manually without being noticed, then more power to you! If you'd rather just take the guy out with your desert eagle, that's fine too. Part of the beauty of Everything or Nothing's gameplay is how many ways you can play through a single mission. Depending on the level of difficulty or even just the mood of the player, there are lots of different ways to do everything in this game.

These third person action segments of the game play well, but how do they look? In most cases, fantastic. There aren't any extremely impressive effects put to use, but everything that is here is wonderful, especially the characters and enemies. They are all animated wonderfully, and, most importantly, are skinned with extremely high-quality textures. This is especially evident in the models that are based on real-life actors, such as Pierce Brosnan.

Everything or Nothing isn't just about third person shooting action, though. You will be able to take the helm of a wide selection of vehicles, including helicopters, motorcycles, and - thanks to the Need For Speed engine - a car armed to the teeth with missiles and machineguns. The controls on these vehicles are slightly awkward compared to how tightly the on-foot portions of the game feel, which annoyed me at first, but it wasn't too hard to adjust, and besides, it's hard to make a game with as many different styles of gameplay as this and pull them all off perfectly! I did have a problem with the graphics during some of these segments, though, especially when driving the car. The framerate seems to be a little more spastic while driving, and worst of all, the quality of the textures takes a nose dive. With a little more work on these parts, Everything or Nothing could have been a nearly flawless experience, but instead, the vehicle sections serve to remove the player from the rest of the game, through inferior gameplay and presentation.

The single player mode may be wonderful for the most part, but my favorite portion of Everything or Nothing is the multiplayer features - specifically the fantastic co-op mode. The co-op missions are technically inferior to their single player big brothers, but I had a lot of fun playing through them with a friend. I must point out that this portion of the game could have been improved by leaps and bounds, had EA taken the time and effort, but what is there is good. Fans of GoldenEye will be sorely disappointed with the lack of a solid deathmatch mode, but as I've said so many times, this is a totally different type of Bond game. Perhaps the next game in the series will add the improvements to the co-op mode that are needed, but for now, I am pleased that the option was included in the first place.

Thanks to EA's deep pockets, Everything or Nothing features an all-star cast of voices, including Willem Dafoe, Heidi Klum, Judi Dench, Shannon Elizabeth, Mya, Richard Kiel, John Cleese, Misaki Ito, and, of course, Pierce Brosnan. Surprisingly, Brosnan is one of the weaker members of the cast when it comes to his voice talents; he says everything almost as he should, being Bond, but doesn't put as much emotion into his words as he should. To contrast Brosnan's average yet passable performance is the wonderful work of John Cleese. Every word he says fits perfectly with his character, and is yet another aspect of this game that will absorb players into the experience of the James Bond world. While video game voice acting has been elevated past "you are the master of unlocking" thanks to great efforts like Grandia II and the Metal Gear Solid series, many developers have done nothing to separate the voice talent in their games from that of a "b"-movie. Electronic Arts has both the money and the influence to get a solid cast together, and thankfully, they did with Everything or Nothing.

The music is straight from the Bond films, which is perfect for this game, as it is as close to the Bond-movie experience as any video game has ever gotten, including Rare's revered GoldenEye. I would expect nothing less from the home console version of a Bond game; while the GBA version of Everything or Nothing could have used a massive improvement in the music department, this game delivers everything I could have wanted, if not more.

Electronic Arts has finally achieved what they have been trying to do since they picked up the James Bond license: create a James Bond experience like no other. Believe it or not, I think that if it wasn't for GoldenEye, a game like Everything or Nothing would have released a long time ago. EA was forced to live up to the legend cut out for them by Rare, which left them with no choice but to create a series of first person shooters (as was proven by the disappointing sales of the PS1 third person shooter based on Tomorrow Never Dies), while still trying to stay true to the films. They tried to make all-original games like Agent Under Fire, but that still didn't work out as well as it should have. Finally, after all these years, EA has done it. They have made a Bond game with an identity all its own - the GoldenEye precedent has been broken. See, GoldenEye created its own vision of the film on which it was based; it was meant to be a great video game first, a Bond game second. EA has been trying to capture the charm of Bond himself; you just can't do that with a first person shooter. Another major departure from the GoldenEye formula was the lack of a four-player deathmatch mode, with Everything or Nothing instead opting for a solid co-op mode, which was the crowning jewel of the game, in my opinion. Oddly enough, now that they have finally achieved what they have been trying for all this time, it has been announced that the next Bond game will be a direct sequel to Rare's GoldenEye. How that will pan out is anybody's guess. For now, though, we have a whole new way to experience James Bond with Everything or Nothing.

Score: 8.5/10

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