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  • Reviewed on: Sony Playstation 2
  • Also available for: Xbox and Gamecube
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  • The Good: Super action, super pace, super production.
  • The Bad: Really long load/save times.
  • The Verdict: This game is more fun and more exciting than most Bond movies.
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REVIEW:

It's hard to talk about any James Bond game without going back to GoldenEye, Rare's megahit for the Nintendo 64. That game, a first-person shooter that revolutionized the genre, pretty well set the standard by which all future Bond games will be judged.

EA's previous Bond releases - Agent Under Fire and NightFire - have been decent, but it's only now that the developer has finally hit the jackpot again with Everything or Nothing. It's really the first game that can measure up to the mighty GoldenEye, even though the gameplay in each title is markedly different.

EA has been tinkering with the formula established in GoldenEye - which was essentially a first-person shooter that incorporated some gadgets and stealth - since it acquired the Bond licence. You can see the progression through EA's three titles toward making a game that plays like a movie (a move that is evident in many games these days), and Everything or Nothing is a final realization of that plan. In the end, about the only thing GoldenEye and Everything or Nothing have in common is that they're both excellent games.

The most noticeable difference is the total abandonment of the first-person perspective in favour of third-person. Bond game purists may despise the idea, but in fact it's very logical - first-person really only works in a first-person shooter, and Bond is capable of so much more in this game.

Hand-to-hand combat is a good example. In the films, Bond engages in a good deal of fisticuffs, sometimes with multiple enemies, and the third-person perspective frees him up to do so in the game as well. In some cases - such as when the player is outnumbered and in close quarters - going hand-to-hand is often wiser than using weapons; some of the bad guys are actually strangely compassionate, and won't fire at their buddies while they take on Bond. This is a nice human touch that is missing from many games. The fighting engine is nothing special and Bond is limited to a few punches and kicks, but it's a big improvement over any sort of hand-to-hand fighting found in first-person shooters.

Third-person also frees Bond to perform some crazy stunts, such as rappelling down the sides of building while firing. Then there's my personal favourite level - freefalling down a cliff in an effort to catch a falling maiden, shooting enemies while he drops.

On the normal shooting levels, meanwhile, Bond can lean up against walls and use them for cover, or he can duck behind crates. A lock-on feature allows him to target enemies, and a special "Bond sense" ability essentially slows the game to a crawl and allows the player to look around for important items or areas - barrels that can be shot to explode, for example.

Any 007 game worth its salt has a bunch of cool gadgets, of course, and Everything or Nothing definitely delivers. Aside from his grappling hook, Bond will also use night-vision goggles, EMP grenades, several iterations of the "Q-Spider" (a remote control spider that can crawl through tight spaces), and even a "nano suit" that makes him virtually invisible. The game also features a good selection of weapons, from Bond's trademark PP7 pistol to AK47s, rocket launchers and sniper rifles.

As in the movies, Bond will take the helm of numerous gadget-laden vehicles, from cars and motorcycles to helicopters and tanks. Everything or Nothing greatly ups the vehicle quotient from previous titles, and when combined with the varied core third-person action levels, it feels like every level in the game is different.

EA went all out on Everything or Nothing's production, and the end result couldn't be slicker. An all-star voice cast includes Pierce Brosnan (as Bond), Willem Dafoe (as bad guy Nikolai Diavolo), John Cleese (as Q) and Judi Dench (as M). And let's not forget the Bond girls: Shannon Elizabeth is on board, as are Heidi Klum and Mya (who also sings the game's theme song). Needless to say, the voice acting - and sound in general - is fantastic.

The same goes for graphics. Everything or Nothing looks really good - some locations, such as New Orleans, positively gleam - and the game moves very smoothly and quickly. In fact, some of the driving levels move almost too fast. On an interesting note, the driving sequences were co-developed by the Canadian team responsible for the popular Need For Speed racing games - and it shows.

The game is already a great package, but EA wasn't content to stop there. There are tons of extra features, which are unlocked based on the difficulty level played. These include production photos of the actors, as well as usable gadget upgrades including the famous golden gun.

Everything or Nothing also packs some interesting multiplayer options. Aside from the traditional arena death-match stuff, there are several interesting co-operative modes, which make players work together to accomplish a certain goal. Completing these co-op missions also unlocks death-match arenas. And as a bonus, the Playstation 2 version of the game features on-line multiplayer capability, which provides many of the options found in similar shooting games.

One final excellent touch - on one level, Bond is sneaking through a hotel room when he encounters a hot woman lying around waiting for her masseur. She mistakes Bond for said masseur, and if the player hits the X button, Bond gives her a massage and scores points. The only thing missing for the perfect Bond experience is a level where the player can gamble in a casino.

I have but one complaint with Everything or Nothing: the load/save times in the Playstation 2 version are interminable, and often slow the pace of the game down significantly - a shame considering how fast and lively it is otherwise.

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