The Bourne Conspiracy XB360 Review page 1
We are a bit puzzled. Here we have one of the world's biggest movie franchises three movies strong (with a fourth rumored to be in production), one of the biggest stars in the world, and an almost perfect action story, but until now we didn't see a game. It's hard to see why Vivendi chose not to capitalize on the series until recently but we finally have the game of the Robert Ludlum Bourne story. This perhaps is the first time that a movie studio and game publisher have chosen not to cash in until it seemed the right time. It was clear from the outset that this was not going to be your typical movie licensed game, i.e. shockingly bad, as The Bourne Conspiracy as you would expect is as action packed as the film, but there are a few quirks which keep it from must own territory.
It is in some ways hard to see where the game fits in with the story. The first thing to note is that this is not a culmination of all three movies; it is based on the original movie and book. Where the gray areas start to show is that some areas go with the film while other areas go with the book. While this is not a problem, it does make us wonder why they didn't just stick with one or the other. For those who don't know, Jason Bourne is a living twenty million dollar weapon. Trained by the US intelligence agencies to be a top spy, he suffers a knock to the head while on assignment and loses all memory. From then it is a fight to find out who he really is and was, while the US forces who created him, try to kill him. That really is all there is to it with the game and movies focusing much more on action than story development.
If there was one area the game would have to get right it would be the action sequences and there are no doubts the developers put a lot of thought as to how it would all work. Primarily, Bourne's weapon is hand to hand combat where he is brutal, but scattered throughout the game you will come across weapons which can be used.
The game flits between hand to hand action combat and third person shooter regularly. If you get close enough to an enemy with a gun, Bourne will disarm the enemy and engage in hand to hand combat. So really the game comes down to running, shooting, hand to hand combat and a slight bit of puzzle solving. However it does so in a way which is somewhat interesting. Sometimes you will be stuck in a courtyard surrounded by enemies plotting your escape, whilst others running from tanks. The action never lets up in the game and that is by far its biggest strength.
There are two things which stand out in the game play. The first is takedowns. Once you have accumulated enough adrenalin you can perform take downs on enemies. Most are environmental. For instance Jason will slam an enemy character into a sink or bookshelf based on the surroundings. As with the casual nature of games these days, this does not require a button combination, instead a quick movement at the right time will have Jason finishing an enemy off. The other standout is the Bourne sense. Going back to Jason's training, the Bourne sense allows you to see where objectives are, enemies are and any special objects in the world that may need interacting. This may sound like it makes the game a walk in the park, and to be honest in the lowest difficulty it does. However, in the higher difficulties, this costs you adrenaline and it is that adrenaline which is used to take down enemy characters, especially during the many boss fights you will encounter.
The Bourne Conspiracy XB360 Review page 2
Mission variety is high but as explained earlier all it really turns into is Bourne running down a few linear corridors, pressing some buttons and shooting some enemies. It is a real shame that the best parts of the game are towards the end. While it rewards you for making it so far with the action increasing ten fold, by that time the game will have lost over half its players from repetitive missions, of which there are eleven in total, although that is a misdemeanor because one mission consists of a boss fight only. Bourne is not a very long game and you should have it finished easily under eight hours.
One disappointment is that you will only see driving action in the game once. This is especially disappointing considering the publisher was touting this as one of the reasons to play; shooting, fighting and driving, it's all on the box. The driving model could have used some work as well but it has been improved since the demo on Live and PSN. It's the only time in the game which breaks up the on foot action and doesn't last nearly long enough to have the impact it should, which is odd considering driving is such a huge component of the Bourne series of films. The other disappointment is that it is clear Vivendi want to make this a franchise. This leaves the ending rather short and boring and most cut scenes are brief and don't explain much. We think it's fair to expect much better for the inevitable sequels. Also the lack of multiplayer really hurts. We do find it hard to see how the developers could fit multiplayer into this title, but replay value far beyond collecting passports to unlock secrets needs to be considered for the sequel.
The game follows the story quite closely as you would expect and you will visit locales such as a Marseille, Paris and Zurich just to name a few. Bourne is an international super spy and the game reflects this. The shame is that there is no real way of telling that you are in different cities. The levels in terms of design are quite similar despite different locations and as mentioned before the game is very linear. There are some advantages to this however. It has allowed the developers to build a sense of pressure into the game. One such level has you escaping the US embassy and you have to run due to low time limits. Enemies shooting at you, doors closing and a thumping soundtrack really build the atmosphere as much as the movies, even though you seem to always just make it. The game also doesn't suffer from not using Matt Damon and a generic Bourne and character model seems to fit the game well.
Visually the game is middle of the road. While there is no doubt it is using the next generation hardware, when compared to some of the bigger games on the system it just doesn't stack up. With that said the frame rate does not falter one iota even in situations with many enemies, it just would have been nice to see a higher level of detail. Enemies and Bourne do animate well with CG cut scenes not in-engine telling most of the story throughout. Sound and voice acting is quite well done and the famous score from the movies has made the jump over to the game as well.
As a start The Bourne Conspiracy does well. It is clear that many things need to be looked at for future titles, but it is a start where the core of the experience does reflect the Bourne experience well. Fast action, incredible combat and gunplay are all hall marks of Bourne and they are in this title with spades. It is a shame that the experience is so short because it could have been a game which broke the shackles of movie licensed mediocrity. Instead we have a game which is a rental for all but the most dedicated Jason Bourne fans.
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