The name's Bond, James Bond
The "James Bond 007" franchise is arguably one of the most successful cultural exports from England, next to "Top Gear" and "Harry Potter." With dozens of films spanning decades, this martini-loving MI6 agent has enjoyed much success with various videogame adaptations, especially with "007 GoldenEye" for the Nintendo 64. Developed by Britain's finest at Rareware, "007 GoldenEye" remains iconic for it's local multiplayer to this day. As technology moved forward, new video game systems were released in 2002 by another British developer, Eurocom, culminating in "James Bond 007: Nightfire" for the Playstation 2, Xbox and GameCube systems. Despite having an egregiously lacking PC version, this game isn't just for your eyes only.
The game's story centers around a wealthy CEO named Raphael Drake, who runs Phoenix International, a company that is used for a front for arms smuggling. As a result, Mr. Bond is sent on a mission to prevent Drake from receiving a nuclear missile guidance microchip at his Austrian estate. Like the films, Bond has a myriad of gadgets to use at his discretion, as well as a few femme-fatales working alongside him. Interestingly, the voice actresses for the Australian and Japanese characters are indeed their respective nationalities, so you won't have to worry about bad accent impersonations.
As for the gameplay, I found it to be very good. The twelve missions in the game encompass a variety of scenarios; in one mission, you'll be sneaking through an office building trying not to alert patrolling guards, and in another, you'll be driving none other than an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish. There are quite a few different kinds of weapons as well. You've got your pistols, machine guns, sniper rifles and rocket launchers, but the weapon selection doesn't feel so large that it is overwhelming. That's more than I can say for games like "Call of Duty" or "Battlefield," in which a sizable amount of guns feel very similar to each other and non-distinct, and the gameplay differences between some rifles are negligible. I found the variety in the missions a good way to keep things from getting monotonous and an excellent replication of the "James Bond" genre.
The game can be played on three difficulty modes and each of the twelve missions can net you a bronze, silver, gold or platinum medal. Silver medals unlock multiplayer game modes, gold medals unlock single-player weapon and gadget upgrades and platinum medals unlock multiplayer skins resembling characters from older Bond movies, such as "Goldfinger" and "A View to a Kill." In addition, the only way to obtain platinum medals is to both play on the hardest difficulty for a difficulty-based point multiplier and replay a mission in which you have previously obtained a gold medal. Doing the latter will spawn a number of 007 tokens scattered in each level in well-hidden locations and a further bonus can only be obtained if the player has collected all of the tokens in a level. The number of tokens to collect depends on the level. I personally have obtained platinum medals on nearly every mission of the game and I can attest to the fact that this feat is challenging but not frustrating, as it can be fun to find out the best strategies to conserve your health as well as improve your marksmanship.
Overall, I found "Nightfire" to be a relatively enjoyable game that pays a healthy homage to the "James Bond" franchise. With a good variety of gameplay and challenges, some gamers put "Nightfire" on par with the legendary "GoldenEye" in regards to both its single-player campaign and its multiplayer modes. When it comes to videogames based on 007, I'd say that "Nightfire" shakes the formula, instead of merely stirring it.
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