Review: James Bond 007: Nightfire (Playstation 2)

In this review, we lose some gadgets in the Playstation 2 game James Bond 007: Nightfire. We find out how well this FPS game plays.

This game was released in 2002. It is another instalment in this long-running series.

We’ve played a number of Bond games over the years. We’ve previously played James Bond 007 on the Atari 5200. That game was OK, but nothing huge. From there, we tried Goldeneye 007 on the N64. That game got a great score. Next up was 007: The World Is Not Enough. That game was decent enough. Finally, we tried 007: Agent Under Fire. That game wound up being mediocre. So, we continue on with the series by trying this game.

After stopping some terrorists who are attempting to transport a bomb, Bond gets his latest mission. The Nightfire, a device that can control a nuclear satellite, has been stolen from the American’s. After some investigation, it turns out that the person who stole it goes by the name Raphael Drake, manager of Phoenix International. The corporation itself bills itself as a respected corporation that disposes of nuclear arms. As it turns out, Drake was not disposing of the arms at all, but instead, stockpiling them in an effort to take over the world. Bond must recover the Nightfire and stop Drake from carrying out his plot.

There are three difficulties you can select in the main campaign: Operative, Agent, and 00 Agent. Respectively, these represent the easy, medium, and hard difficulties. The differences generally revolve around enemy health and ability to rack up level points.

On the Operative difficulty, enemy health is the smallest and the reaction time is the longest. As such, it is easier to get into the gameplay because if you are less familiar with the level maps, you are more likely to be wandering more around the level as you try and find the next point you need to be. There is, however, one major downside. You don’t have any 007 tokens to really collect. This makes racking up points for end level rewards extremely difficult at times.

Meanwhile, on the agent difficulty, enemies can deal more damage and are more accurate. Additionally, their reaction times are shorter. This does make the levels more tricky, however, there is the inclusion of a few 007 tokens. As such, you can get a higher score if you are successful in completing the level on that difficulty.

On 00 agent, enemy accuracy is better still. Additionally, they have more health and deal more damage. While this makes tackling levels the most difficult, you also get more 007 tokens to collect. This makes it much easier to obtain the higher awards in the game – assuming you can survive to the end of the level of course.

As mentioned, there are points you can earn in the game. They aren’t displayed until you beat the level, but you can get some indicators. As it turns out, you can earn points through high health, time, collecting 007 tokens, and pulling off “Bond moves”. Most of these are self explanatory, but Bond moves are a carry over from the previous game. The idea is that you need to perform an unspecified task in a certain level to execute a “Bond move”. This can include shooting down an entire set of planes on the first try, shooting out a grate, or setting off explosives to take out enemies. If you pull off a Bond move, you’ll see the 007 logo pop up.

At the end of the level, you’ll be assessed a score. The higher the score, the better the award. The awards are bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Unlock an award you haven’t unlocked before and you’ll get a new Bond card. Each card unlocks something special in the game. This can include characters in multiplayer, multiplayer modes, and upgraded weapons in single player mode.

Like other Bond games, you start a chain of levels with full health. There are segments between each level. Under these circumstances, what health you have from the previous segment is carried over onto the next segment. Die and you’ll start the segment over with a moderate amount of health. While nothing in this game restores health, you can also pick up armour. This effectively operates like a second health bar. Run out of armour and you’ll be back to having your health be at risk again.

You generally start with your standard issue pistol. You get a small amount of ammo as well. However, many guards carry a number of different weapons that you can use. This includes semi-automatic rifles, uzi’s, sniper rifles, shotguns, dart guns, grenades, stun grenades, mines, remote mines, and even a rocket launcher. Some weapons can be found lying around the level, but a large portion of ammo is found by taking down guards. The arsenal and pickups aren’t necessarily anything special, but there does appear to be a reasonable compliment of weapons.

In addition to this are the various gadgets. This is a pretty standard feature in Bond games. One such gadget is the grapple. If you find a target you can hook on to, you’re cell phone can shoot a tether at it and pull you up to it. Note that you have a limited range with this.

Another gadget is the laser. Hidden away into your watch, this laser is capable of disrupting bombs, circuitry, and heating up metal. It is probably the most used gadget in the game.

In addition to that is the camera. Disguised as a lighter (which also can be used), this camera allows Bond to take photographs of various targets. Needed to complete certain objectives.

The Q-Worm is a disc that allows Bond to infect computer networks and enable Q branch to monitor computer systems. Look for red monitors to use this.

A decryptor is also handy when it comes to opening doors locked behind a keypad. It is possible to obtain door passwords by finding the right computer screen, however, if all else fails, this device can aid your mission as well.

You can also utilize the shaver. This shaver is actually a stun grenade in disguise. The shaver can be activated remotely. It’s more than possible to complete the game without this device.

In addition to all this is the separate device hidden away in your sunglasses. The glasses require a separate button to activate. When active, you can cycle between off, night vision, and a detection vision. Night vision can be useful when you find yourself in a dark space. The detection vision, meanwhile, can pick up on guard heat signatures. These signatures can be seen through walls. The more useful feature is the fact that it can detect all laser beams. Activation of this will use battery power. Switch it off to restore the charge.

Separately are special moves you can perform. If you approach a certain obstacle, you can activate this move with the flashing action icon. This includes walking along thin ledges and climbing across wires. The wires use up energy, but the walking doesn’t appear to. Strafe to move forward or backwards and action once you reach the other side.

Like the previous game, you’ll also be riding on various vehicles. The Vanquish, Bonds personal car, can be driven through various courses. It comes equipped with rockets which have a limited supply, but are most effective. Meanwhile, the machine gun does some damage, but carries with it unlimited ammo.

Your vehicle also comes with a number of special devices. The most used is the smoke screen which can be used to deter local authorities in a non-lethal manner. Meanwhile, the EMP is used to disable vehicles. The Q wedge flips the car onto two wheels to squeeze through impossibly narrow spaces. Finally, the nitro can boost the vehicles overall speed. Each device is activated when you need it, but it is up to you to use it.

There are other vehicles and devices Bond can use. This includes a weaponized snowmobile, a plane, and mounted turrets.

Like most of the previous Bond games, Bond must complete certain objectives to beat the level. In fact, you can’t even exit a level until all objectives are completed. These objectives include feeding a dragon, penetrating the defences of a building, destroying computers, and more. They all need to be completed to beat the game.

In all, there are just over a dozen missions to complete, but it is certainly enough to keep players occupied for a while.

In addition to this is the multiplayer mode. You can play against other human players or AI bots that can be customized to your needs. You don’t really earn anything in this mode, but it is available for your amusement.

Personally, I thought this game is a pretty solid instalment to the series. While it isn’t necessarily all that innovative for an FPS game of its time, a lot of the basic features that make for an interesting FPS game is certainly there.

The length is certainly reasonable. I certainly spent my share of hours playing this one. In addition to this, the level design is certainly reasonable. The levels are often complex enough to keep things interesting. You don’t have the one long corridor level design that is plaguing other games at this time. At the same time, I wouldn’t call the level designs amazing by any means. It’s enough to keep gameplay interesting, though.

One thing I did find a bit disappointing is that the higher difficulties don’t really include new features outside of the placement of a few additional Bond tokens. Unlike games like Perfect Dark and Goldeneye 007, players won’t really experience anything especially novel in the higher difficulties. This made for some somewhat dumbed down and simplified play.

Additionally, the multiplayer section doesn’t offer any additional challenges outside of a fully customized experience. There are no special challenges or anything, just a pick and play style.

Still, this game does have a fair bit to offer. The reasonably large arsenal of weapons, gadgets, and levels give plenty for the player to experience. It may be a bit simplified in that new difficulties don’t offer anything new outside of a few extra Bond tokens. Additionally, the multiplayer mode is just there with no real extra challenges outside of extending the life of the game somewhat. So, certainly a reasonable game to play.

The graphics are also quite reasonable. The environments are definitely fully decorated and the scenery does offer a lot. There is some particle effect and some nicely done explosions as well. The cutscenes do add a fair bit to the game and the modelling is certainly pretty well done. So, a solid job in my books.

Finally, the audio does have some good sounds. The music features the trademark Bond theme and some variations. It does a reasonably good job at offering some atmosphere and it works pretty well. The music also varies nicely whenever you are caught by a guard. Meanwhile, the voice acting works well to give the game some depth. So, a decent job all around.

Overall, this game does deliver on a lot of expectations from your average Bond game. There are objectives to complete, a nice arsenal of weapons to use, and some interesting gadgets to toy around with. The vehicles and devices also give this game some interesting depth. The level design is certainly reasonable. It is a bit disappointing there is not much to be had with higher difficulties and features in the multiplayer, though. The graphics are pretty well done and the audio is certainly reasonable. So, a solid performing game all around.

Furthest point in game: Beat the game on Operative difficulty.
Died on Chain Reaction on Agent difficulty.
Died on Alpine Escape on 00 Agent difficulty.

General gameplay: 18/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 7/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 72%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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