From Russia With Love

From Russia With Love (2005)

Distributed by EA Games / MGM Interactive

A classic James ? ...

Cover - FRWL
UK Release Date:November 2005

So Connery is back as 'classic' James Bond in the game version of his best & my favourite Bond movie From Russia With Love. When I heard early reviews and mentions of "same story as movie" and "easy to play" I had my doubts about its success. Like EON, you play the game in third-person view moving our Connery/Bond figure through each of the 14 missions. As with previous 007 games passing one of the missions allows access to the next, with the chance to go back and improve your mission score at the three levels: Operative, Agent & 00 Agent and hoping to achieve a Bond Moment and score research points used to upgrade your weapons & gadgets. By achieving mission award points you unlock 4 ascending bonus levels. During each mission you are also on the look-out for 'starry' objects in order to collect schematics points this shows up on the end green dot score card. During a mission within the inventory option you have the chance to play an attaché case game at button pushing speed which earns more skill points to purchase extras like trailers, artwork and multi-player villain characters with Goldfinger & Dr. No being the most expensive ones.

The pre-title sequence has the original film's gun barrel opening up at London's Big Ben at the Houses of Parliament ( used as a backdrop for TWINE's opening boat chase ) and the baddies abseiling down each face while our hero races across the bridge in his Aston Martin DB5 to attend the function. On arrival he gets his customary drink, then for all hell to break out with the Minister's daughter ( played by singer Natasha Bedingfield ) being kidnapped and you as 007 going off to rescue her. Ah you say this never happened in the movie, no it didn't but EA expands the story's scope by introducing the jet pack baddies and at the end Bond has to parachute in and destroy their rocket launching lair. After the opening mission the Barry theme music rolls with computer graphics which incorporates the movie scenes and introduces the cast.

Unlike EON's star voice cast we just have an older Connery in his younger Bond likeness, unfortunately with the passing of time the English accent he used for the movie has been replaced by his now strong Scottish accent. It's a pity the voice director didn't notice this and use some of his movie dialogue and have Sir Sean just for additional dialogue. Alas he now sounds like all those impersonators who think they do a good James Bond. Meanwhile with most of the original cast unavailable, Q's voice sounds like Agent Under Fire's Q not Llewelyn more DAF's Charles Gray, lovely Tatiana's very unsexy with awful Russian accent, Kerim Bey & Rosa Klebb's are near to the movie along with a brief Moneypenny but Grant's voice lacks menace and M's proper English one doesn't have Lee's commanding resonance.

After the titles, the pre-title movie maze scene is introduced with false 007 at start of second mission, following much gun shoot-tapping, your death victory (?) switches to London's MI6 with James' hat throwing to meet Moneypenny. Enter M's office to receive similar movie orders to head to Turkey but pop off first to Q's lab. Here we see demos of two gadgets: the rappel rope like Brosnan's one in EON and the Q-Copter which helps gain access to rooms with a bang. Q gives you as 007 a short training exercise using your firing skills with a gun & laser watch to disarm a bomb. On completion Q gives Bond his air ticket and Connery replies "From Russia With Love" to him instead of Moneypenny in the movie.

On arrival at Istanbul Airport Bond has the code word exchange with Bey's son but no chauffeur drive follows. Instead Kerim Bey turns up with James' DB5 ? It's appears that James recognises the father now as an old friend ? When did this happen .. in the movie ? After getting the keys, you drive the Aston with its gun & cannon and explosive spike wheels to the town blowing up some enemy cars on the way. Driving in Bond games should be exciting but from the same company that gave us Need For Speed and now Burnout series it's like driving fairground bumper cars ! At least with Nightfire you got inside the car ! Also strange you need to drive around Istanbul during the day with your head-lights on ?

Unlike the movie, you're not fighting Blofeld & SPECTRE but an organisation called OCTOPUS, also missing is chess master Kronsteen who devised the plan to steal the famous Lektor coding machine. Any chance of fighting Grant on the train and tap dancing with Klebb's spike shoe are gone as these are animated within the game's plot which is a disappointment. Also compared to other shooter games, the skill in killing the opposition is overdone with repeated tapping and not much skill, you can try some close combat with Connery who disposes quickly of the bad guys except a big henchman who needs a bazooka to get rid of him ! Meanwhile the jet pack flying experience is a novel addition to the plot copied from the later Thunderball scene but with added armory.

The summary scoring of green dots instead of usual medal levels doesn't encourage regular game play especially if you want to check your individual mission scores before having another go. Instead you a get a total mission score at the end of each attempt. It's interesting to see how some missions have been updated from the movie for a younger audience but some missions seem just tagged on like the mentioned opening and end mission at the Octopus Base where the earlier killed Grant lives again in an Octopus fighting machine. So unlike the movie this ends with the lair's destruction not in a gondola in Venice.

There is a multiplayer section for up to four players where you play two games - one called Survival Royale - alas unlike Nightfire there is no chance for a single player to test his skills against chosen 'bots' which is again disappointing.

So a good enough addition to your Bond games section but this one could easily has been titled James Bond v The Rocketmen or ..v The Rocketeers ( a little nod to Dalton's movie ). We'll have to wait for the perfect 007 gaming experience.

Easy does it - FRWL
Been here before ? - FRWL
Going up - FRWL
Flyer to kill  - FRWL