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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Action
Min OS X: 10.3    CPU: G4 @ 1000 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 2400 MB    DVD-ROM    Graphics: 64 MB VRAM

James Bond 007: NightFire
August 13, 2004 | Richard Hallas

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It's cool to be British. Being British myself, of course, gives me ample reason to make that claim, but to back it up I need only point at James Bond, that most suave and unflappable of secret agents. What other hero could emerge from the flames of an explosion still dressed in an unscuffed tuxedo and with not a hair out of place? A quick adjustment to the bow-tie is generally all it takes to restore Mr Bond's well-groomed appearance to its previous state of perfection. Even if the unthinkable should happen, and our man Bond's impeccable presentation is disrupted, he always has a gracious quip with which to disarm the situation. ("I've made you all wet!" "Yes, but my Martini's still dry.")

The Bond films have of course evolved over time, not least because of the changing faces of the actors playing the central role. We all have our favourite Bond actors, of course, and many people consider the present incumbent, Pierce Brosnan, to be among the best, but the tone changes markedly with each new Bond actor, and indeed, to a lesser extent, with each new film in the series. Nevertheless, there are various elements that are important in all Bond films; so what does make a Bond film truly a Bond film? And how well can those elements be incorporated into a computer game?

I think that the important elements I'd expect to see in any Bond film would be something like the following list:

  • A good mixture of fast, exciting action and slower-paced stealth
  • An imaginatively-named villain with a gimmick (anything from a white cat to an extraneous nipple will do)
  • Beautiful girls with outrageously provocative names, throwing themselves at Mr Bond with depressing regularity
  • A steamy scene or two
  • Varied and exotic locations
  • At least one extremely fancy car, laden with gadgets, and perhaps other vehicles
  • At least one exciting car chase, and maybe other kinds of chases
  • Inventive gadgets devised by Q and other cutting-edge technology
  • A coherent (if far-fetched) storyline
  • Lots of entertaining dialogue and really funny one-liners
  • Plenty of obvious but not blatant double-entendres
  • A great deal of humour: Bond films rarely take themselves seriously
  • That isn't supposed to be an exhaustive recipe for DIY Bond film-makers, but it's the sort of thing that I'd hope to see in a typical Bond film, and therefore I'd also hope to find similar things in a Bond game. So, how does Nightfire shape up against my list?

    From Aspyr with Love
    First impressions were pretty good. The game opens with MGM's roaring lion and proceeds to display a Bond-ish introduction, complete with girl dancing with gun and horrible music, so that all seems in keeping with the film series. (To be fair, by no means all Bond themes have been horrible, but a lot have, especially the more recent ones, and Nightfire's music does capture a certain Bond-ish character.)

    There's also a reasonable range of options to tweak, including a wide range of preset resolutions that include most common sizes, up to the native resolution of Apple's 23" Cinema Display.

    On Her Majesty's Public Service
    Once into the game, you set out on the first of nine missions. Here's the first major departure from my list of what makes a good Bond film: a coherent story. The problem with Nightfire in this regard is that the missions feel very disparate, and don't form a coherent whole. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, actually, in that there's a good deal of variety (and once you've finished the game, you can revisit the missions in any order you like), but it didn't seem to me to make for an authentic 'Bond experience'. The missions do in fact link together with story elements, but they don't really gel together well.

    Perhaps this is because the original console version of the game has twelve missions, whereas the PC/Mac release only has nine. That is, in itself, a significant disappointment, though clearly it's not Aspyr's fault. Apparently the console and PC/Mac versions are quite different.

    Each mission clearly attempts to include 'token Bond elements', such as scaling a high building using suction pads, the journey to a space station in a shuttle, or the escape from a snowy mountain retreat in a cable car. Actually, this cable car episode is far more reminiscent of a very similar sequence in the Bond-spoof game, No One Lives Forever 2, than of any actual Bond film that I can recall.


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