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From Russia With Love Review

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Developer: EA Redwood Shores Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: November 1, 2005 Also On: GCN, PS2, and Xbox

“The name’s Bond, James Bond.” This introduction is quite possibly the most famous in movie history. James Bond is a legendary action hero on the screen and has gained a following in video games to boot. Electronic Arts has had exclusivity to the Bond license for more than six years now, going back to the ill-fated Tomorrow Never Dies on the original PlayStation. Even with successes like Nightfire and Everything or Nothing, fans of the Bond series expected more from their super spy. Does From Russia with Love successfully return Bond to his roots?

As you probably know, From Russia with Love is the second Bond film from 1963. The British try to steal a Lektor decoding machine from a defecting Russian agent. However, the Russians are involved in that their agent was tricked by SPECTRE to lure James Bond into a trap in return for the death of Dr. No. Electronic Arts strays away from the beaten path in the game’s storyline, changing it to fit gameplay. Nothing is dramatically changed, other than SPECTRE’s name is now Octopus, due to legal reasons. There are parts in the game that were not in the movie and events in the movie are changed for the sake of gameplay. Also, the jetpack from Thunderball is in this game, even though it did not appear in From Russia with Love.

From Russia with Love is a third-person action shooter. If you are used to the Bond FPS, this system will be foreign to you. For those of you that have played Everything or Nothing, you will be acquainted with this system of play. After managing the camera, you will learn the basics of lock-on, precision shooting, dive, stealth walk/crouch, wall-cover, and so on. You can melee attack enemies by getting close, pressing R, and one of the four buttons. Your moves include dive, dodge, jump over objects, and even tip them over for cover. Rappel is back, but is not used as wildly as Everything or Nothing, where you could scale walls and run from left to right.

I am sure you are wondering what locations are included from the movie. The first level will have you rescue the Prime Minister’s daughter in mid-air using a jetpack in front of Big Ben. The hedge maze puts the stealth moves that you have to use. It is also my favorite level in the game. You will get a chance to drive in the streets of Istanbul and gun in the reservoir/escape from the border. Finally, there is also the gypsy camp, Russian consulate, etc. There are four bonus levels that need a certain number of awards to unlock. Awards are provided for completing in a time limit, Bond move, kill count, and whether you played in 00 Agent or not.

The weapons that you will be using range from the PP7, SMG, shotgun, bazooka, assault rifle, magnum, sniper rifle, and more. For the first time since the N64’s The World is Not Enough (also made by Electronic Arts), Desmond Llewelyn plays as Q. Q Branch gadgets will play a small role in completing your objectives, but the laser watch, Q-copter, and rappel are all necessities. There are also things like grenades, a machine gun that folds into a suitcase, among other things.

From Russia with Love is not quite a lengthy game. I would say it took me about five to seven hours to complete it, without all unlockables, of course. From there, it is your choice as to whether you want to defeat the game in all of the three difficulty levels or if you want to unlock the many unlockables. Unfortunately, there is not much of a multi-player offering until you unlock levels and characters, so the “unlockables” are really just characters and levels needed to even play with a decent amount of choice. Among the unlockables are also various videos that you can buy, along with concept art.

At first, I thought the multi-player in From Russia with Love was weak, but that was before I unlocked new levels and characters. Even so, you better turn off the radar, as all it does is put an icon above your head, making it impossible for your opponent to not know where you are. The point of playing in a hedge maze is to sneak up on your opponent and use the level to your advantage. Once that is turned off, everything is pretty fun. The melee combat seems random as to who gets hurt, variant weapons are sparse, and the vehicles only detract from the game. There is enough strategy and skill involved, though, to keep you interested. Just do not expect GoldenEye-caliber multi-player.

From Russia with Love is one of the best Electronic Arts Bond titles, with the possible exceptions of Everything or Nothing and Nightfire. I’m honestly getting frustrated with EA changing formulas with each new game. Four new Bond games since 2002 with each of them feeling different. While I usually do not have to justify my ratings in the actual review, I feel it is necessary to explain how I went about this, before I get e-mails saying how I mistakenly gave this a lower score than it should have gotten. Even though Everything or Nothing received a 9.2, our review system calls on us to review games at the time of release. That game was a 9.2 at the time of release. This one is not at the same level of quality as Everything or Nothing was when it was first released. With competition from other third-person action shooters, From Russia with Love stands tall, but slumps in game length and multi-player.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 8
Written by Kyle Review Guide