The Video Game Critic Presents


James Bond 007: The Games

Updated Nov 15, 2021 (added DS games)

A motion picture institution for nearly 60 years, James Bond has also left a considerable mark on the world of video games. This review special attempts to commemorate all of the 007 adventures I have reviewed over the years. Primarily console titles, some of these games date all the way back to the early 1980's.

I have to confess that while putting this page together I was disturbed by all of the low grades! Apparently it took a while for gaming technology to become sophisticated enough do the frachise justice. 007's first blockbuster title was Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64 (1997), which arrived at a time when the market was thirsty for competitive first-person shooting action.

Goldeneye 64 featured a wildly-popular four-player split-screen mode which became the hallmark of the series. In the spirit of due diligence I recently convened a few friends to play and reassess the multiplayer modes in all of these games, resulting in bonus "multiplayer notes" at the end of certain reviews. What's fascinating is that while you would expect the multiplayer modes to improve over time, this was not the case!

Keep in mind that that these games are being graded against other titles for the same system, and many have not aged particularly well. Still, I think they all manage to embody the franchise in their own unique way. I'm just shocked there hasn't been any 007 games released in the last decade. Read on to find out why!



James Bond 007 (Parker Bros.,1983)

System: Atari 2600
Grade: F
Originally posted 2006/7/9
screenshotWhen trying to determine the best adjective to describe James Bond 007, the best I could do was "wretched". This sure is a far cry from that impressive (but apparently bogus) "train shoot-out" preview screen shown in the Parker Bros. catalogs! This travesty of a game is a generic side-scroller, and a poor one at that! Its four stages are meant to recreate different Bond movies, but you'd never know it unless you read the manual. The brief intro features a nice rendition of the James Bond theme song, but the game itself looks like a third-rate Moon Patrol.

Your pod-shaped car is supposed to be some kind of all-terrain vehicle. As you cruise along the planet surface and "hop" over volcanic craters, satellites and helicopters drop bombs from overhead. The helicopter's searchlight looks cool, but it never even comes close to reaching the ground. Perhaps the pilot should consider flying below the satellite! Yes, that's right, the helicopters fly above the satellite orbit.

Your vehicle is armed with a cannon, but get this - you can't shoot your attackers! No, that might be fun, so it's not allowed. Instead, you can only shoot the periodic "diamonds" that appear in the sky. The second half of the stage takes place over water, where you'll witness enemy aircraft inexplicably bombing their own divers in the water below! Once you reach the oil rig (which is invisible half the time), you'll need to perform a complicated maneuver to bring the stage to a merciful conclusion. It only took me about 20 tries or so.

The second stage forces you to deal with "poison bombs" which spell instant death if you don't shoot them down at launch. That's as far as I got, but I can only assume that the subsequent stages are equally as idiotic. James Bond 007 is challenging, but only because you don't know what the [expletive] is going on half of the time. What a complete and utter waste of a movie license.





James Bond 007 (Parker Bros., 1984)

System: Atari XEGS
Grade: D
Originally posted 2021/2/9
screenshot I think it's safe to say this lazy effort is unworthy of the 007 franchise. Its intro screen features a fair rendition of the classic musical theme, but the visuals? They are embarrassing! Bond appears in the center of the screen, waving. Is he supposed to be a secret agent or a tourist for crying out loud?!

A small yellow car materializes in front of him, wheels blinking on and off for no apparent reason. Somehow James manages to squeeze his huge body into the tiny car, which in turn transforms into an even smaller vehicle. Train tracks then roll out under the car. Can somebody please tell me what the [expletive] is going on here?!

The four stages are supposedly inspired by the films Diamonds Are Forever, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, and For Your Eyes Only. Each mission has you navigating this sorry-ass "all-terrain vehicle" across a side-scrolling landscape, jumping over craters and shooting aircraft in the sky like a poor man's Moon Patrol (Atari 5200, 1983). Is it possible for stages to be both inspired and uninspired at the same time? In Diamonds you shoot frogmen underwater before landing on an oil rig. Next you're pitted against a bomb-dropping helicopter that can't be destroyed even if you hit it dead on!

The Moonraker stage requires you duck underwater to avoid exploding satellites overhead. The explosions are pretty much non-stop with enough obnoxious flashing to trigger an epileptic seizure. Normally I'd wish for a stage select, but I don't think I'd want to select any of these stages! What ever happened to that tantalizing train shootout screenshot from the Parker Bros catalog? Now that's something I'd like to play!




James Bond 007 (Parker Bros., 1984)

System: Sega SG-1000
Grade: F
Originally posted 2019/5/4
screenshot This is basically the same as the disappointing side-scrolling shooter James Bond 007 (Atari 2600, 1983). I always hated that game, beginning with its nonsensical animated intro. It's supposed to depict some kind of transforming car, but it looks cheesy and James Bond looks far too big to fit into that thing. The familiar 007 theme song is the only thing this game has going for it.

Each of its stages are based on various Bond films like Diamonds are Forever and The Spy Who Loved Me, but they are "cookie cutter" in ever way. You drive a vehicle toward the right while firing missiles, tossing mines, and jumping/diving past hazards.

The graphics are terrible. Why am I being attacked by traffic cones? The best strategy is to fire with reckless abandon, which doesn't make your thumb feel very good. Failing to capture the spirit of the films to any degree, James Bond 007 strikes me as the worst kind of corporate dreck.




James Bond 007 (Parker Bros., 1984)

System: Colecovision
Grade: D-
Originally posted 2007/2/7
screenshot Unimaginative, poorly programmed, and devoid of fun, James Bond 007 takes a perfectly good movie license and flushes it directly down the toilet. The game's cheesy intro depicts James Bond waving effeminately before squeezing into his tiny "amphibious vehicle". The game plays like a third-rate Moon Patrol, as you jump over pits and dive underwater while firing missiles and dropping bombs.

The stages are loosely based on four old Bond flicks, but you'd never know unless I told you. For the record, the films are Diamonds Are Forever, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, and For Your Eyes Only. The stages do look different, but they all play the same and none are particularly enjoyable. 007's heinous graphics feature ugly color schemes and constantly flashing skylines. I hate how the blue diamonds in the sky don't even disappear when you shoot them (hey, maybe they really are forever!).

James Bond 007 is not a pretty sight, but remarkably, this version holds a slight edge over its pathetic Atari 5200 counterpart. The controls are better, the difficulty is lower, and you can actually shoot the satellites that attack from overhead. But make no mistake; James Bond 007 is still unadulterated crap.




James Bond 007 (Parker Bros., 1984)

System: Atari 5200
Grade: F
Originally posted 2006/10/7
screenshot Wow, I really can't get over what an absolute piece of [expletive] this game is. Not only is it terribly unpleasant to play, but the entire concept behind it is idiotic. It's hard to believe someone actually gave the "go ahead" to this ill-advised project. James Bond 007 begins with an incredibly shabby intro that borders on embarrassing. First you see a huge James Bond character getting into a tiny yellow car. Next, the car's wheels inexplicably begin to blink, and then the car shrinks down even smaller.

The accompanying theme song is decent, but the visuals look positively half-assed. The intro is followed by a nausea-inducing first stage that perfectly embodies the game as a whole. Looking like a half-baked Moon Patrol knock-off, you jump over craters while shooting blue "diamonds" floating in the night sky. Bomb-dropping satellites fly just overhead, but inexplicably, you cannot shoot them!

Soon you find yourself moving over water while doing the same damn thing, except now you have to deal with shooting divers. If you're sadomasochistic enough to complete the stage, you can expect equally brain-dead gameplay in the stages to come. Each level is supposedly based on a different Bond film, but they all look and play pretty much the same - crappy! Did Parker Bros. really think the Bond license alone would justify this inexcusable tripe? I'm still waiting for them to issue a formal apology to the gamers of the world.




James Bond 007: The Living Daylights (Domark, 1987)

System: Commodore 64
Grade: D
Originally posted 2021/9/16
screenshot I don't remember much about the James Bond flick "The Living Daylights" but I can only assume Bond's main enemy in the film were rocks. Never released for any home console, this 007 romp has eight levels of side-scrolling action, mainly distinguished by tripping over trivial objects.

You have five lives to complete all eight stages with no chance to earn extra lives. It's all or nothing, just like Bond would have wanted! Each level consists of the same general play mechanic. Bad guys pop up and shoot at you as you jump over obstacles. You can fire back, but you must stop moving in order to aim, and that really sucks.

The first level has me confused thanks to an unhelpful (and sometimes inaccurate) instruction manual. As I mentioned, the biggest danger to Bond are rocks scattered across the landscape. Not only will touching them deal damage, but you'll be incapacitated for a few seconds as well. To jump over rocks you push your joystick diagonally, but consistently making these jumps is no easy feat. I trip over those damn things constantly.

You can select a "special" weapon before each new level via a laboratory screen that looks pretty nifty. For the second level you'll want to go with the infra-red vision. Now the rocks have been re-skinned as sewer grates as you attempt to escort an KGB agent to an opera house.

Next you're off to an industrial pipeline screen (special weapon: hard hat) where the grates have been reimagined as pipes. The fourth level has you avoiding potholes created by a helicopter above as a milkman hurls milk bottles your way! Was this in the movie??

Four stages was pretty much all I could take. I suspect the developers were short on time and had to crank out the quickest thing that might pass for a Bond game, incorporating a few minor elements from the namesake movie. Thus you can add Living Daylights to the steaming pile of tie-in games that seemed to focus more on acquiring the movie rights than producing a fun game.




James Bond 007: The Duel (Domark, 1993)

System: Genesis
Grade: F
Originally posted 2016/9/29
screenshot boxI wasn't a 007 fan until Daniel Craig hit the scene, so now I'm playing catch-up. James Bond 007: The Duel is pretty awful. Is that supposed to be Timothy Dalton on the title screen or Chris Kattan? Similar to Rolling Thunder in design, you move from floor to floor shooting bad guys, climbing ladders, and collecting items.

I'm not even sure what "the duel" refers to; this is a very conventional single-player platform-shooter. You shoot milk men, save a bunch of ladies in cocktail dresses, and head to the finish. The opening stage takes place on a sprawling cargo ship, and the orange steel and island backdrops look very nice. James can fire sideways or diagonally, and he can even fire while hanging on a ladder.

The lead character looks the part but the control is terrible. You have to make a concerted effort to finagle your way up ladders or simply turn to face attackers. Jumping is problematic because you can't tell what you can jump on or what's just part of the background. When you get shot you often fall off your current platform, and falling just about any distance is fatal. I do like how James automatically picks up any objects he runs by.

Enemies tend to mindlessly scamper back and forth. You'll get into the habit of shooting while running so if an enemy appears on the edge of the screen he'll run right into the bullet. In stage two Bond is jumping between trees like a monkey in a tuxedo and it looks ridiculous. The Duel plays so poorly that even when you know exactly what to do survival is largely a matter of luck. You'll find yourself inadvertently finishing stages but when you shut this game off it will be no accident.




Goldeneye 007 (Nintendo, 1997)

System: Nintendo 64
Grade: B-
Originally posted 2016/11/30
screenshot First-person shooters were the rage on PCs in the 1990's, with LAN parties popping up all over so people could engage in multiplayer combat. Goldeneye 007 filled that niche in the console world, offering quality first-person shooting with a four-player split-screen. LAN parties could be logistical nightmares but anyone with a Nintendo 64 and a few controllers could engage in a raucous multiplayer deathmatch. It was great at the time but Goldeneye hasn't aged well.

I'm reviewing this game from a present-day perspective, so please don't get mad out there! The framerate is fairly smooth but the maze-like arenas are repetitive and the graphics look muddy. I found myself running in circles, struggling just to locate my friends. There's a slew of customization options but no way to add CPU opponents.

The single-player campaign has aged much better. It reprises exotic locations from the film like a massive dam, snowy Siberia, and an Egyptian temple. The attention to detail is commendable with sophisticated operating facilities, destructible environments, and satisfying explosions. The character models are angular but their digitized faces are notable. The blood is modest but I love how gunned-down soldiers scream and contort their bodies like ragdolls. It's like I'm fighting an army of Pinocchios for crying out loud!

The smooth framerate and ability to strafe makes navigating narrow corridors a breeze. Stealth is sometimes called for but it's hard to avoid frantic shootouts. The nifty auto-aim lets you mow down enemy soldiers with ease, piling up bodies in the doorways. The missions are short but the objectives are so specific it often takes several attempts to complete them properly.

The audio is outstanding, serving up crisp sound effects and a pulse-pounding musical score. Goldeneye may not be what it once was, but it will remain one of the most celebrated titles for the Nintendo 64. For fans I'd recommend its superior sequel, 007: The World Is Not Enough (Electronic Arts, 2000).

Multiplayer Notes: For all its chunky polygons and blurry textures, there's still something to be said for Goldeneye's basic brand of good-natured shooting fun. My friend's opinions vary widely, with grades ranging from D to B. Brent says it's aged terribly, but Chris feels Goldeneye still delivers the goods. Grade: C




007: Tomorrow Never Dies (Electronic Arts, 1999)

System: Playstation
Grade: D+
Originally posted 2017/8/5
screenshot Playing Tomorrow Never Dies gave me a serious case of deja-vu, probably because it's a heck of a lot like 007: The World Is Not Enough (N64, 2000). The production values are pretty good with realistic voice acting and an amazing soundtrack that conveys a sense of excitement. Cut-scenes intersperse clips from the film and you even get the complete movie intro featuring the Sheryl Crow theme song. Unfortunately these clips tend to call to your attention to just how boxy the actual game graphics are.

You play a 3D Pierce Brosnan with a close-cropped polygon hairdo undertaking ten missions that follow the plot of the film. The third-person shooting begins in snowy Siberia, where the purple twilight sky is really easy on the eyes. You'll move between camps while gunning down soldiers and collecting health and weapons. James Bond isn't capable of fighting without a weapon, believe it or not. You can always tell who the bad guys are because they have these big red and yellow targets superimposed over them. You commandeer a plane at the end of this mission, but sadly you don't get to fly it.

The analog controls are clumsy and inexact, and I found myself running in circles around a key card I was trying to pick up. The camera is unstable and jittery, and a nightmare in close quarters. I actually became queasy at times. At least the game is forgiving, offering plenty of ammo, checkpoints, and health packs. Certain stages let you ski or drive a car, and during one mission you gun down bad guys who fall into printing presses!

Fans of the movie will be interested to know that Bond does have an encounter with an angular Terry Hatcher. Multiplayer split-screen modes highlighted the Nintendo 64 Bond titles, but they are mysteriously absent here. This makes the box claim of "the most complete Bond experience" ring hollow. Once you beat the short missions of Tomorrow Never Dies, there's nothing here to keep you coming back.




007: The World Is Not Enough (Electronic Arts, 2000)

System: Nintendo 64
Grade: B
Originally posted 2016/11/30
screenshot Goldeneye 007 (EA, 1997) was an institution on the Nintendo 64, but you don't hear much about its sequel. The World is Not Enough delivers a superb campaign and rich multiplayer split-screen modes. The missions are more polished and cinematic than Goldeneye and the character models are lifelike. They actually have voices this time, although they sound somewhat muffled.

The cut-scene exposition is painfully dry but the missions themselves are pretty intense. They involve rescuing hostages, defusing bombs in a subway, pursuing villains on a pier, and infiltrating an exotic villa. The most exciting stage takes place on ski slopes where you blow up fuel dumps and gun down enemies while careening down the mountain. I love it!

I also appreciate the attention to detail; when you shoot a picture on the wall, it falls down. I find it really difficult to avoid shooting fleeing hostages - that's something I need to work on. Unlike Goldeneye's roundish health meter, World gives you a more conventional health bar. Selecting items is awkward. The x-ray goggles seem cool until you realize enemies behind walls can see you too! What the hell?

I was worried about the missions that forbid you from killing guards until I realized it was still permissible to beat the living [expletive] out of them! What a relief! The multiplayer lets you deploy CPU-controlled "bots", allowing you to play solo (always a plus). The arenas are bright and spacious, set in small villages, snowy mountains, and the MI6 Headquarters.

My friends who were very critical of Goldeneye found this game to be a pleasant surprise. The soundtrack may not be as catchy as Goldeneye but it still maintains a high degree of intensity. When it comes to old first-person shooters, I'd have to say The World Is Not Enough has held up better than most.

Multiplayer Notes: The "updated" features of this game sometimes work against it. For example the auto-aim will sometimes point you in an unexpected direction, and shadowy environments can make it hard to see. One feature I love however are AI bots. Who needs friends?? Grade: B




007: Agent Under Fire (Electronic Arts, 2001)

System: Playstation 2
Grade: D+
Originally posted 2021/1/24
screenshot As the first Bond game to land on the PS2, Agent Under Fire is pretty rough sledding. Instead of a cinematic experience you're presented with a mission select screen, offering twelve to be unlocked one by one. James Bond looks vaguely like Pierce Brosnan but... on second thought nope he does not. Not at all. Fortunately the game is played from a first-person perspective so you won't have to spend too much time staring at this goofy imposter.

A bigger problem with Agent Under Fire are its controls. They are reprehensible. Just trying to get from point A to B is exasperating. Eventually I learned you need to "point" the left stick to where you want to go. The button layout sucks too. Why would you assign X to shoot when you have a trigger available? You can modify the controls a bit but never to my satisfaction.

The missions are typical secret agent stuff as you infiltrate well-guarded facilities and save hot chicks tied to submarines. You'll encounter a lot of poorly-trained enemy soldiers who like to take cover behind the nearest red barrel. When you run out of ammo, just run up to a bad guy, punch him in the face, and take his gun. Just don't let him hit that alarm switch or your mission will come to an abrupt conclusion.

Under Fire's graphics are unimpressive with frequent glitches like soldiers floating or being partly embedded in walls. When Bond grabs some body armor, it sounds like he's zipping up his fly! It would be easy to write off Agent Under Fire... except for the driving stages. There are quite a few of these, and frankly, they are gangbusters. So much fun. Some give you the run of the town, causing mayhem as you plow through cafes and knock down fire hydrants.

The multiplayer mode suffers from quirky controls but its fast-paced, run-and-gun gameplay will appeal to some. Agent Under Fire may be a bit underdeveloped, but it served as a prelude to some quality 007 games EA would soon publish.

Multiplayer Notes: I was expecting the guys to really appreciate the improved graphics and framerate, but grades ranged from A to D-. Some were critical of the controls and hated how the game would automatically select the worst weapon you had. I thought the edgy music was cool until Brent pointed out it was a 3-second loop stuck on repeat. The game has a constant run-and-gun vibe, making it a decent pick-up-and-play party game. No bots in this one. Grade: B-




007: Nightfire (Electronic Arts, 2002)

System: Playstation 2
Grade: B-
Originally posted 2021/1/13
screenshot Though not based on an actual James Bond film, Nightfire still stars Pierce Brosnan (his likeness at least) as our dashing hero. It even has its own theatrical intro and theme song. Having previously reviewed From James Bond 007: From Russia With Love (PS2, 2005), I could tell Nightfire was a bit older and less polished. Its opening sequence, a car chase through Paris at night, has a now-you're-in control-now-you're-not quality that's disconcerting.

I had to fiddle with the control scheme and even then the game managed to confuse me at times. So it's telling me to press the action button, but what is that?! As it turns out, it's the square (reload) button. Likewise using the right trigger to employ a gadget seemed counterintuitive. Nightfire's first-person shooting action is great fun though, partly due to the nifty auto-aim whose accuracy is a function of the skill level you choose. You'll need that auto-aim when trying to save cute geisha girls being held at gunpoint.

The enemy AI could be better. Shoot a bad guy and he just scoots over a few feet and reassumes his position. The lack of a map is glaring, especially in some of the maze-like stages. The game excels however in terms of graphics and exciting Call of Duty-ish stages. The first few areas feature breathtaking winter scenery and I could tell right away that snowy-castle-at-night was going to make an awesome multiplayer map. There's an exhilarating snowmobile ride followed by a break-neck car chase through a quaint snow-covered town.

Another visual highlight happens later in the game when you find yourself on the top floor of a skyscraper at night. The view of the city from the windows was so amazing all I could do was gawk. Heck, even the grungy industrial stages look cool because everything is so realistic. Unfortunately Nightfire's lack of movie license proves to be its downfall. The story doesn't make much sense and the acting is subpar to say the least. The dialog is laughable when it's not supposed to be, and embarrassing when it is.

The obligatory multiplayer split-screen mode is very challenging, as there's no auto-aim to rely on. I also like how you can fill out the missing players with bots. Nightfire isn't the best Bond game but it's pretty darn good. If you're a fan of Pierce Brosnan's Bond you'll enjoy watching him do his thing in this exciting original adventure.

Multiplayer Notes: Again, this was a split decision with grades ranging from B to D+. Unlike Agent Under Fire which seemed arcadish, this one's for seasoned gamers. No auto-aim but a lot more skill and strategy. This game is tough. Not only does it display how many kills you have, but how many deaths as well, adding a "shame" element. Bots are available! Grade: B-




007: Everything or Nothing (Electronic Arts, 2003)

System: Playstation 2
Grade: A-
Originally posted 2021/2/27
screenshot Everything or Nothing was the first James Bond game to deliver a truly cinematic experience. Its action-packed opening gets you acquainted with the controls by letting you blow up a few tanks and planes. Once the stylized musical intro kicks in you realize this game is legit. If you can take your eyes off the mesmerizing images of hot ladies the credits reveal an all-star lineup including Pierce Brosnan, Judi Dench, John Cleese, Heidi Klum, and Willem Dafoe. Has there ever been an actor who looks like a villain more than Dafoe?

The game's third-person perspective, combined with crisp lock-on controls make picking off bad guys a blast. The default difficulty is "agent" and you won't last long if you don't employ sensible tactics. Driving stages provide big thrills as you blast through burning facilities and speed under crumbling Egyptian ruins. Unfortunately the game was designed to use the PS2's ill-advised "pressure sensitive" buttons, so you'll feel the need to crush X the whole time just to maintain your speed. Your GPS is an effective tool, especially when you're tracking an adversary or trying to avoid local authorities.

The game has a lot of memorable moments, like a wild car chase through New Orleans and a shootout in a graveyard on a stormy night. Some of the missions are a bit confusing, like when you're told to rescue an agent during a car chase. You're told not to hurt her, yet you *will* need to shoot the car she's in! The acting is quite good and there's some cool plot twists. Even Bond's longtime nemesis Jaws even gets in on the fun. The stages are short and sweet, and between them your progress is saved via a simple ten-step process.

Everything or Nothing falters on the multiplayer front. You need to "unlock" this mode by completing co-op missions, and playing split-screen from a third-person view is awkward and hard to see. Otherwise Everything or Nothing may be the most polished PS2 game I've seen, with an elegant interface rendered in sleek silver colors. The game looks like a million bucks and even contains a making-of documentary. With so much variety, a sweeping orchestrated score, and real actors driving the narrative, this may be the ultimate single-player 007 experience.

Multiplayer Notes: Aptly named, we tried everything to get the multiplayer to work, but nothing was successful. Each player had to create a "profile" first, only to discover there were no arenas available. Later I discovered you had to "unlock" them by playing... the co-op mode?! Grade: F




Goldeneye: Rogue Agent (Electronic Arts, 2004)

System: Playstation 2
Grade: C-
Originally posted 2021/2/27
screenshot I've been methodically reviewing all the 007 games for the PS2, and Goldeneye: Rogue Agent stands out like a sore thumb. It takes place in the timeframe of the third Bond film (1964!), with the villainous Goldfinger attempting to blow up Fort Knox. But this game follows its own alternate timeline. Goldfinger succeeds, Bond dies, and the disgraced agent responsible for Bond's death goes "rogue". If nothing else, this game is ballsy.

Its bizarre premise provides an excuse to resurrect all the classic 007 villains like Dr. No, Oddjob, and Pussy Galore. Hell, even Xenia Onatopp gets in on the action. Christopher Lee reprises his role as Francisco Scaramanga, aka the Man with the Golden Gun. The "Goldeneye" title is a complete misnomer. Unrelated to the satellite weapon in the Pierce Brosnan movie, it instead refers to a bionic eye constructed for our rogue agent. Confused yet? Wait until you play.

The character models are chunky and the controls feel loose and imprecise. You aim a laser dot so tiny you'll often lose it on the screen. And yet there's something to be said for Rogue's brand of mindless run-and-gun action. Played from a first-person view, you wield weapons in both hands and can just shoot wildly in a general direction as bad guys fall all over each other.

I particularly enjoyed the Hong Kong level as you move from roof to roof on ziplines, mowing down one set of henchmen after the next. It's like James Bond meets Time Crisis 3 (Namco, 2003). Doors open automatically, and if you sustain damage you can take cover to "recharge". You can even use a bad guy as a human shield, although I've never seen the need to do that. Flammable red barrels abound and enemies tend to walk right into traps.

The multiplayer mode is a bust. The environments are ugly and you're forced to play on teams. There are no options for bots either.

It may be raw, but Rogue Agent's arcade style is refreshing. It's not particularly difficult and the thumping techno soundtrack is awesome. Rogue Agent sports a low-definition appearance, with muddy cut-scenes that don't even consume the whole screen. Sandwiched between pristine entries Everything or Nothing (EA, 2003) and From Russia with Love (EA, 2005), Rogue Agent lives up to its title. If you don't like James Bond games, maybe you should give this one a shot.

Multiplayer Notes: This was the most unpopular multiplayer experience yet. My friends hated the ugly, uninspired environments, one of which Brent referred to as "the hallway". It's difficult to move and shoot at the same time. You have to play teams and there are no bots. Good music though. Grade: D-




007: Everything or Nothing (Electronic Arts, 2003)

System: Game Boy Advance
Grade: A-
Originally posted 2021/3/28
screenshot The console version of 007: Everything or Nothing (PS2, 2003) set the gold standard for James Bond games. I'm happy to report that its high level of quality carried over to the Game Boy Advance. This may just be the most polished portable title I've ever played. The intro screen is very elegant with the familiar Bond theme playing over a digitized still of Pierce Brosnan and some attractive woman. I love that clean-looking, silver menuing system.

The well-designed missions require you to perform a set of tasks but there are secondary objectives as well, like clearing out all enemy guards. Each new location is introduced with a scenic photograph, setting the stage nicely whether it's a Cairo trainyard, a graveyard in New Orleans, or the Peruvian jungle.

You play via an isometric view of the action, and the realistic characters are impressively animated. It's so satisfying to sneak up on a bad guy and choke them, you'll actually prefer to use stealth! The action begins with Bond rappelling down the side of the Hoover Dam, picking off baddies along the way. Periodic car chase stages provide you with a slew of built-in weapons like machine guns, rockets, and oil slicks. The cars may be small but they look sharp and the explosions are nice.

There are certain limitations to the isometric format. Certain missions demand stealth, yet it can be hard to sneak around because by the time a guard appears on the screen you might already be in his line of sight. In addition, there's so much detail in the scenery that the visuals can be a little muddled, especially during hand-to-hand combat.

The saves are frequent and automatic. Between stages you can upgrade your gear to maximize your armor, damage, or speed. The orchestrated music is astonishing for a Game Boy title. Everything or Nothing is so elegant and sophisticated that you'll forget you're playing a portable system.




James Bond 007: From Russia With Love (Electronic Arts, 2005)

System: Playstation 2
Grade: B+
Originally posted 2020/12/30
screenshot As the second James Bond film, From Russia With Love (1963) starred Sean Connery, the original 007. You don't see many games based on old movies, but this one does a remarkable job of bringing the film to life. Not only does it reprise the original actors in lifelike CGI, but Sean Connery himself does the voice acting for the young Bond.

I expected a slow, deliberate spy adventure but From Russia With Love is anything but. The action is pretty much non-stop beginning with the prime minister's daughter (played by singer Natasha Bedingfield) being kidnapped by the "Octopus" crime syndicate. The game's auto-aim absolutely kicks ass as James goes to work picking off bad guys at every turn in an opulent palace.

The graphics are first-rate with realistic lighting and detailed scenery that's faithful to the time period. Next thing you know James is riding a jetpack picking bad guys off Big Ben before shooting down a helicopter. And that's before the opening credits! When that lavish musical intro kicks in you realize EA spared no expense with this one.

From Russia With Love generally follows the film's plot but expands upon it for dramatic effect. The game is played from a third-person view and you can pick up items by running right over them. The controls feel so responsive it's like the game is reading my mind. Naturally 007 is equipped with gadgets like a laser watch, sonic cufflinks, and remote control helicopter.

There are some exciting chase sequences but the driving controls could be better. The touchy steering has me swerving all over the road, and that's before the bad guys start ramming into me! That said, I love the car's "tire-punch" weapon which knocks off any vehicle that dares pull up alongside. The explosions in this game are tremendous.

The orchestrated score gives the film the weight of a motion picture, and it seems as if every stage culminates with a plot twist or epic confrontation. During one scene you're cruising through an underground reservoir, and it feels like being on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride - except you're picking off the pirates with a machine gun! Weapon effectiveness is suspect at times. While I shoot a guy in the face with a rocket launcher, I expect him to do more than flinch!

The multiplayer mode is probably not worth your while, mainly due to its disorienting third-person perspective. The disc also includes a series of bonus documentaries, including one about the making of the game. Clearly the people behind this game had a passion for the franchise and wanted to do it right. As a result this is the most authentic Bond game ever created, and quite possibly the most fun.

Multiplayer Notes: This one got off on the wrong foot beginning with the character selection screen. If you can't pick someone another player has chosen, why give me the option? There are only four characters for Pete sake! Even worse is the third-person gameplay. Yikes. You can't even see what's happening. Grade: F




007: Quantum of Solace (Activision, 2008)

System: Playstation 3
Grade: C+
Originally posted 2020/5/11
screenshot The film Quantum of Solace never got much respect but I guess it's hard to follow the best Bond film ever (Casino Royale). This first-person shooter is better than I expected. In addition to following the general story of Quantum, it also incorporates scenes from Casino Royale including the chase in Madagascar with the bomb maker.

Frankly the chronology of this game seems all over the place. The adventure begins with Bond kidnapping Mr. White from his mansion. This part was brief in the film, but here it's fleshed out with elaborate shootouts and explosions. James Bond's likeness and voice is clearly Daniel Craig but Mr. White is not the original actor. I guess they didn't have the rights to that guy. Anyway the exciting opening act segues into a classic 007 intro complete with original music and stylized images. I was a little disappointed you don't participate in the car chase that opens the actual film. No, this is strictly a first-person shooter with a few quick-time events thrown in to facilitate dramatic hand-to-hand combat.

I am impressed how action-packed each stage is. You barely have time to catch your breath with all the gunfire, explosions, and collapsing buildings. There are plenty of powerful weapons at your disposal, and gunning down bad guys is satisfying because they tend to hurl themselves off the nearest ledge. This game makes excellent use of audio. During the Italian rooftop chase you don't see the festival below, but the buzz of a crowd conveys a sense of activity. Likewise the Vienna Opera house is empty but the fact that opera music is playing adds a dramatic flair. My favorite stage is set in Miami at night during a raging storm, culminating with a boss encounter with a helicopter.

The game recommends employing a stealth approach but I prefer the bull-in-the-China-shop approach. Hey - it works in the movies! The auto-aim makes it easy to pick off bad guys and there are shiny things lying around that explode when shot. The game feels a little undercooked. Taking cover can be effective, but there were times I felt as if I was stuck to the scenery, unable to pull myself away to avoid a grenade. You're told to hold X to dash but you need to push in the left stick to do that. The objectives are confusing. Once I was told over the radio to jump off the boat and I didn't even know I was on one!

When low on life, that vintage 007 "barrel of a gun" graphic encroaches onto the screen, which is a nice touch. Quantum's multiplayer is online only (which sucks) but if you're up for a single-player campaign, Quantum of Solace will get your blood pumping.




007: Quantum of Solace (Activision, 2008)

System: Nintendo DS
Grade: F
Originally posted 2021/11/15
screenshot The first thing to know about Quantum of Solace is that the game requires you to hold your DS system like a book, viewing the action on the left screen while interacting with the right (lefties have the option to flip the scheme). The problem is, this doesn't give you easy access to any buttons. Perhaps to compensate, when a button press is required you can use any one within reach.

Cut-scenes feature both digitized stills and dialog from the movie, which is pretty cool. The action is viewed from a tilted overhead perspective. The 3D characters are jagged but 007 looks vaguely like Daniel Craig. The floors look shiny and the footsteps sound crisp.

Like many 007 games, Quantum of Solace begins with the obligatory training level to get you acquainted with the controls. It's very necessary considering how inordinately complicated it is to shoot, manipulate your inventory, or engage in hand-to-hand combat. During the fighting tutorial I was forced to repeatedly beat the crap out of a man who looked like Richard Nixon.

To move you simply point to a location and Bond walks toward it. Unfortunately while reaching across the screen the stylus obscures your view. Combine that with semi-transparent scenery and it can be hard to tell what the hell is going on. Stages tend to be maze-like, repetitive, and painfully long.

To fire your weapon you hold a button and tap your target. Unfortunately enemies can absorb bullets like a sponge, and the constant tapping drains your ammo in a hurry. You'll need to return to the inventory screen just to reload, dragging more bullets onto your gun icon. I hate how enemies can shoot at you from offscreen but you can't return the favor.

Most of the time I was out of bullets, forcing me to engage in clumsy hand-to-hand combat. This mode requires performing a lot of complicated stylus moves to throw punches and block. Once you realize how unresponsive these controls are, you end up doing the touch-screen equivalent of button-mashing.

Quantum of Solace is a confusing mess. When using my inventory screen I thought I was storing my poker chips into a shot glass on the bottom. That turned out to be a trashcan! I really don't like this game. Instead of making things easier, the touch screen interface complicates matters... considerably.




Goldeneye 007 (Activision, 2010)

System: Wii
Grade: B-
Originally posted 2011/4/10
screenshot golden controllerGoldeneye for the Nintendo 64 was one of the best selling games of all time, so it's not surprising to see it resurrected for the Wii. This explosive remake updates the storyline and places the "new Bond" in the lead role. Daniel Craig is my favorite Bond by far, but since this is a first-person shooter (FPS), his presence doesn't make a whole lot of difference.

The original Goldeneye rose to popularity on the strength of its four-player split-screen mode which was pretty innovative for its time. The multiplayer in this new Goldeneye is... weird. Using the Wii-mote to aim on a split-screen is strange but unique. It's hard to find your opponents in the expansive level and it's a shame you can't add CPU "bots".

On the other hand I really loved the exciting single-player missions, which are jam-packed with mayhem and destruction. The difficulty is easy enough for FPS novices to grasp, and checkpoints are generously placed. The shooting action is similar to Call of Duty with an auto-aim mechanism and red-around-the-edge-of-the-screen health indicator. Be sure to pump a few rounds in each enemy, because the first shot or two usually doesn't kill them - it just pisses them off!

Your smartphone has a series of useful apps including the ability to activate security mechanisms remotely and perform facial recognition. The facial recognition software is so good that it even works if you aim the camera at the back of a person's head! The exotic scenery includes a rainy dam, a snow-swept Siberian radar base, and the colorful skyline of Dubai. The Barcelona nightclub has a cool vibe with pumping dance music and trippy lighting effects.

My copy of the game included a shiny golden controller which is really nice. It's lightweight, has comfortable grips, and uses a standard button configuration. It really is by far the optimal way to play this game.

Goldeneye is the most enjoyable first-person shooter I've played on the Wii, but at times it feels more like a last-generation title. The henchmen all look like clones and the AI is weak. Graphical glitches include guns suspended in mid-air. There are a lot of strategically-placed red exploding barrels, and while they're the biggest video game cliche in the world, I find them impossible to resist. Goldeneye 007 is a real throw-back, and depending on your taste in games, that may be a good or bad thing.

Multiplayer Notes: This strange Goldeneye remake has some really funky controls which let you aim by holding the Wii-mote. I like the way it feels, but it lacks precision. Fortunately you can press a trigger to zoom in and stabilizes your aim. I don't hate this game, but the lack of bots makes me sad.




Goldeneye 007 (Activision, 2010)

System: Nintendo DS
Grade: B+
Originally posted 2021/11/15
screenshot You can add this one to the short list of games that have no right to be any good yet succeed in spite of themselves. On paper Goldeneye DS seems doomed to failure. Activision took a beloved classic, Goldeneye 007 (Nintendo 64, 1997), and rejiggered the controls for the touch-screen. Next they replaced the star of the actual movie (Pierce Brosnan) with the "current" Bond, Daniel Craig. I don't know what would possess them to do that, but I suspect licensing issues played a role.

The control scheme is not what I expected. You move and strafe using the thumbpad, viewing the action on the upper screen. What's cool is how you use the stylus on the lower touch screen to aim and look around. This control scheme only leaves you with easy access to a single button - the left trigger, used to fire your weapon.

It works like a charm. Using the opposite screen to aim indirectly feels strange yet oddly satisfying. Your accuracy is pinpoint compared to what you'd get from a standard thumbstick. Context-sensitive icons appear on the lower screen as needed, allowing you to perform simple actions like opening a door or planting a charge.

The stages are well-designed and there's always a waypoint to keep you headed in the right direction. The action is pretty much non-stop, with plenty of opportunities for gratuitous destruction. The storyline follows the film to a large extent.

One drawback to your limited first-person perspective is that it can be tough to locate enemies. You might need to swipe the touchpad several times just to turn around. It's almost comical when taking fire and you turn around to find an enemy standing right behind you!

Goldeneye for the DS is not what I was expecting but I can't say I didn't enjoy it. As a matter of fact, I think it has aged better than the original Goldeneye (Nintendo 64, 1997). It's also unlike anything I've played before, and that's saying something.




007: Blood Stone (Activision, 2010)

System: Xbox 360
Grade: B+
Originally posted 2021/10/24
screenshot I wasn't a big 007 fan until Daniel Craig took over the role of Bond in 2006, giving the character a more gritty, blue-collar persona. Blood Stone makes excellent use of Craig's likeness, voice, and stoic portrayal. The distinctive manner in which he jumps or slides into cover suggests he may have even been motion-captured.

I don't recall much hype surrounding Blood Stone back in the day, but this game is great! The graphics are stunning, from a sunny marina to an opulent casino at night to snowy Siberia. And there's so much variety. You'll spend some time snooping around gathering clues. You'll engage in wild shootouts with high body counts. You'll race in some of the longest, most elaborate car chases I've ever seen.

The combat is outstanding. Opportunities for stealth take-downs come early and often, rewarding you with "focus" shots that always kill. Picking off enemies has never been more fun thanks to an auto-aim feature and foes that react realistically when shot. The controls are like butter. You automatically pick up ammo by walking over it. Ducking behind crates and peeking around corners is very natural and intuitive.

The high-speed car chases are heart-stopping. There's one boat chase sequence that's so explosive it feels like sensory overload. In Bangkok you'll chase a mammoth dump truck through the city streets, inflicting devastation on a massive scale. The final car chase through the scenic countryside reminded me of Outrun 2 (Xbox, 2004).

Your smartphone display comes in handy for highlighting enemies and objectives. The problem is, it presents the screen with a washed-out lens, and as its signal fades your view become fuzzy and distorted. Since you use it a lot, it tends to undermine the sharp, colorful visuals. Another problem is the ending - or lack of it. Apparently Activision was banking on a sequel that never happened. Multiplayer is online only, or should I say was.

Blood Stone's story is confusing and its dialog is kind of bland. Still, the non-stop action makes it feel like you're in a 007 motion picture. In fact, this may be the closest thing you'll get to a sixth film starring Daniel Craig. With exhilarating chases, top-shelf gunfighting, and effortless controls, 007: Blood Stone is a true gem.




007: Blood Stone (Activision, 2010)

System: Nintendo DS
Grade: A-
Originally posted 2021/11/15
screenshot Having recently reviewed the console version of 007: Blood Stone (Xbox 360, 2010) I was curious to see how much was lost in the portable translation. This feels like a PS1 version of the game, following the same basic storyline but with scaled-down stages. Still, there's good variety and characters are decent likenesses despite their angular features.

You get a third-person, over-the-shoulder perspective which allows you to duck-and-cover. That's a bit tedious so I prefer the run-and-gun approach. Blood Stone employs the same excellent controls as Goldeneye DS (Activision, 2010), using the stylus to look around and point your weapon. Headshots are far more effective than they were in Goldeneye DS.

I like how you can sometimes shoot environmental targets like scaffolding and fire extinguishers to neutralize nearby enemies. One feature exclusive to this portable version are entertaining mini-games like a safe cracker puzzle and a game of Texas Hold'em against a Russian business tycoon.

Blood Stone offers a diverse set of locales from the streets of Istanbul to a glitzy Monaco casino to the icy terrain of Siberia. The vehicle chase stages provide an exciting change of pace, although steering can be hard on the thumb.

It's hard to fully appreciate this DS version of Blood Stone if you've already played through the epic console version, but if you're looking for a portable Bond adventure it doesn't get much better than this.




007 Legends (Activision, 2012)

System: Wii U
Grade: F
Originally posted 2021/10/6
screenshot As a critic that retroactively reviews games, I strive to find fun where others have failed. It was hard to believe that Legends was as bad as they say considering all the quality 007 games released throughout the 2000's. It didn't take long for me to realize this game was indeed a steaming pile of [expletive].

Let's begin with the ill-conceived premise which inexplicably places the current Bond (Daniel Craig) in a hodgepodge of old movie scenarios that incorporate classic characters like Goldfinger, Pussy Galore, Oddjob, and Blofeld. Judy Dench plays the role of M.

I love Craig as Bond but inserting him into past adventures doesn't make any sense. When are these missions even supposed to take place?! It feels like the designers originally intended to incorporate all of the past Bond actors but could only secure the rights to Daniel Craig.

But that's the least of this game's problems. The stage designs are confusing. The game leads you around by the nose but you really never have any idea where you're going or for what purpose. You're sometimes asked to hit targets so small and distant, you can even make them out.

The controls are abysmal. I hate how the A button is used to duck, and why is it so hard to aim?! My gunsight is all over the place. Worse yet, enemies absorb bullets like a sponge. They can shoot me through glass yet I can't hit them.

I opted for this Wii U version of Legends assuming all my weapons and gadgets would be at my fingertips on the control pad screen. I wasn't wrong, but it really doesn't buy you anything. All the gun icons look exactly the same, from the handgun to a sniper rifle. Your watch is supposed to indicate enemy proximity but it's hard to read with all those tiny red dots.

The multiplayer is a [expletive] joke. Legends inexplicably does not support Wii-motes! This means I was limited to the control pad and a pro controller I just so happen to own. While I was initially impressed by the split-screen graphic fidelity, the expansive arenas made it a chore to locate my single opponent.

007 Legends is rough. Weird graphic glitches abound, like flags frozen in the air. Bond is forced to use a lot of cell-phone functions that are both tedious and boring. In one area I needed to scan a gas canister for toxins, but couldn't do it because I was standing too close to the thing.

When Electronic Arts had the 007 license in the early 2000's they released a string of games progressively more polished and easy to play. When Activision took the reigns it appears they started back at square one. Now it finally makes sense why there hasn't been a new Bond game in nearly a decade.

Multiplayer Notes: Another bust. For some reason Legends does not support the Wii-mote controllers. This leaves you with the control pad and if you're lucky enough to have one - a pro controller. I could barely even play this! And despite some shiny visuals, having just two people in expansive levels means you'll be lucky to even find each other. Grade: F