Gamecube Retro Review: 007 Nightfire
50 years ago, the first official James Bond film was released. When it came out the producers knew they had something special. By the time the third one was released, they had a worldwide phenomenon. Recently the latest Bond film was released to critical and financial success proving that people still wanted their James Bond fix. In the video game world, it’s not that different, Bond has seen its ups and downs…err… mostly downs.
Since the beginning of the industry, James Bond games were released for multiple consoles. As you might’ve guessed, the technology wasn’t really up to par to fully realize the Bond universe. It wasn’t until Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64 that players got to be Bond in a 3D world. Goldeneye alone made Bond games worthy of hype and anticipation. Developers knew that and that’s why EA nabbed the rights to make Bond games after the success of Goldeneye.
EA then, developed Bond games based on the next two movies: Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough with mixed results. Because of that, EA decided to make original Bond games for the next generation of consoles. The first one to be released was Agent Under Fire released in 2001 for the PS2, later ported to the GameCube and Xbox in early 2002. The game as a next generation Bond game was disappointing. From the graphics to the presentation the game really lacked the flair that James Bond is known for.
That same year, EA promised to deliver a next generation Bond experience with the release of their newest game Nightfire developed by Eurocom. Released in November 2002, Nightfire felt different from Agent Under Fire in every possible way. But was it really the next generation Bond game after Goldeneye? Let’s find out.
Have you seen the Bond film Moonraker? That’s almost the same plot as Nightfire. Basically a supposed humanitarian, Raphael Drake, is opposed to nuclear weapons that he personally gets rid of them. In reality he is hoarding them for his own personal use, and that’s not a good thing… he’s trying to take over the world. Now, the story may not be that original and not that good even worthy of a Bond film but for a video game it’s interesting enough.
Nightfire is a first person shooter a la Goldeneye, as a matter of fact it resembles Goldeneye very much but that’s where the similarities end. Nightfire, like Agent Under Fire, has vehicle missions done with a different engine and team. It makes the game feel more diverse than just a straight forward first person shooter. The very first mission is really just a sneak peek at what the game is going to be like.
After the gun barrel sequence (completely omitted in Agent Under Fire) you’re in Paris, escorting a French agent who is chasing a truck with a stolen nuclear weapon set to blow up the Eiffel Tower. You’re on a helicopter sniping enemies and freeing the way for the sexy French agent. That’s your first taste of the FPS action of this game, suddenly in that same mission you’re now driving an Aston Martin trying to catch up with that truck. It’s a nice blend of both gameplays.
There are some special “Bond Moves” that gives you extra points in order to get the higher score. For example in that same mission in Paris if you shoot at the tire of the enemies’ car you’ll get a Bond Move token. The higher the score at the end of the missions the more content you will unlock like multiplayer maps and upgrades to your arsenal of weapons and gadgets.
It is clear that the FPS missions are the more polished of the two gameplays they’re very sleek in their execution especially on the GameCube running at 60fps with beautiful lighting and particle effects. I think Nightfire is the first Bond game that really recreates the exotic locales in the Bond movies. From the snowy Austrian castle to the skyscrapers of Tokyo to outer space, the missions are varied and beautiful to look at. Eurocom did a really good job in having FPS action and stealth at the same time on the missions.
The vehicle missions are a tad less polished with inconsistent frame rate, but it’s not like Everything Or Nothing’s (GameCube version) vehicle missions that are really just a mess. They do blend seamlessly with the FPS missions and are more action packed and fast paced. There is an impressive underwater mission in which your Aston Martin becomes a submarine a la The Spy Who Loved Me though.
Character models are also well done especially Pierce Brosnan’s likeness. Long gone are the blocky character models used in Agent Under Fire as well as the clunky animations. Nightfire is really one of the best looking GameCube multiplatform games and that’s really saying something. Add some progressive scan goodness and you’ll be ready to play this game on your fancy HDTV without any problem.
Nightfire also has a multiplayer option in which 4 players plus AI bots battle it out in different game modes. Classic characters from past Bond films like Jaws and Oddjob return as playable characters. It’s quite fun, not exactly Goldeneye fun but it was really the best multiplayer of any EA Bond game.
In terms of music, Nightfire continues EA’s tradition of over using the Bond theme throughout the game. Yes, it’s a little bit annoying but some of the music is catchy and really makes you feel that you’re in a spy thriller. Also Nightfire is the first Bond game to have its own theme song which is cool. Voice acting is decent, Pierce Brosnan is not voiced by the actor himself which is a little bit disappointing and awkward but they get the job done.
So, is Nightfire really the first truly next gen Bond game after Goldeneye? I would say yes, from the presentation to the graphics the game really was the first to recreate the Bond universe like never before. In terms of gameplay, the blend of FPS action-stealth as well as vehicle missions is very well done even though, as I said before, the vehicle missions are a tad less polished.
I give this game