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From Russia With Love


(2005-10-14)

 Da da daaa da da daaa dadadadada.

Alright, I can't phonetize the rest of it, but you recognize the tune, right? Of course you do! And of course, James Bond is back, baby! After last year's Everything or Nothing, the risky third-person action/shooter that departed from the traditional Bond first-person shooter franchise but succeeded despite that, the boys and girls at Electronic Arts are putting out another, better one, based off of the much-loved From Russia With Love film.

So, what's new this time 'round? A lot. First off, EA received permission from the estate of Ian Fleming (author of the Bond books, don'tcha know) to expand the storyline, which they utilized to full effect whilst still retaining that undefinable Bondness. Although the game will follow the story of the book and movie, expect noticable changes, including a new opening for the story and a new ending, as well as some bits in between. In addition, you'll come up against new characters not seen in either book or film.

On the technical side, the game will play similar to Everything or Nothing, meaning linear, objective-based levels. However, to liven up the experience, EA have thrown in some curveballs. Your objectives will change at the drop of a hat depending on what's going on in the level, and you'll have the opportunity to trigger "Bond Moments" by performing special moves at certain points in the mission and locating hidden powerups. You'll also come across Research Points, which you'll definitely want to find as they grant you bonus points which will allow you to customize Bond's weapons by expanding clip size, rate of fire, and other performance aspects. This diversifying element ensures some replay value and will help avoid any of the tediousness that is sometimes prevelant in shooters.

As for Bond himself, he's packing a pretty snazzy arsenal of moves. The shooting, carried over from Everything or Nothing, has been improved upon, and Bond also has some nifty close combat attacks for taking down baddies too near him. Of course, it wouldn't be a Bond game without vehicles, and you can expect the standard super-car, as well as (get ready for it) a jetpack! Let's hope it doesn't make that awful screaming noise from the films, though. Ugh.

Finally, visuals and sound. Both are great, by all accounts. The graphics engine is an improved-upon version of the one used for Everything or Nothing, but much, much better. Bond, of course, looks amazing (spare no expense for Mr. Bond, eh?), and the rest of the cast, though a little less polished, appear to be equally impressive. The destructable environments benifit from the powerful engine itself and from the attention to detail given them, making them stunning and recognizable. On the sound front, they got Sean Connery! Right there, the game has been made, because we all know how annoying it is when Pierce doesn't show up for a voiceover session. The sound effects are the usual suspects (gunfire, explosions, footsteps, ambient noise, etc.), though supposedly on par with the game's fantastic production quality. So to is the soundtrack, which features original music from the movie as well as the Bond themes.

Though it's lacking online support (but has plenty of offline multiplayer fun), From Russia With Love looks like it will carry the day with an amazing single-player experience. Look for it sometime in November for the Gamecube, Playstation 2, and Xbox.

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