Retrospective: James Bond 007 Everything or Nothing
Let me take you back to 2003, the 5th December 2003 to be exact. “Leave Right Now” by Will Young was number one in the UK charts, people were flocking to the cinema to see Tom Cruise star in The Last Samurai, but I was sat in my bedroom, in front of my trusty PlayStation 2 with the hairs on the back of my neck standing up as the Bond theme played loading up arguably the best Bond game (in my eyes anyway) James Bond: Everything or Nothing.
Developed by EA Redwood Shores, it was released on PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube. There was also a Gameboy Advance version developed by Groptonite Games which players could link up with the GameCube version for some exclusive content. The game ran on id Tech 3 and the vehicle sections were based on the engine which powered the Need for Speed games. Gameplay wise it is a third person action game with combat mainly being in the form of shooting, but also featured hand to hand combat. There were also numerous intense driving sections. The premise revolves around the use of nanotechnology within terroism, which takes Bond on a globetrotting adventure, taking him to locations such as Tajikistan, the Sahara, the Valley of the Kings, the New Orleans, Moscow and London.
To this day I do not know how this game existed, on paper it sounds like the biggest budget PS2 game ever made! Why? Well where to begin? For a start there is the cast. Despite featuring in previous James Bond games (starting with 007 Racing) with only his likeness, this was the first game to have Pierce Brosnan voicing James Bond, which must have cost EA a pretty (money)penny. The rest of the cast would have too, with a star cast which would not be out of place in an actual Bond film. Judi Dench, John Cleese and Richard Kiel reprised their roles at M, Q and Jaws respectively from the films. Heidi Klum played the role of an Oxford scientist and mega star Willem Dafoe played the Bond villain Nikolai Diavolo. Yes, you read that right, Willem Dafoe! Furthermore, the game even had its own Bond song! The song ‘Everything or Nothing’ was performed by American singer Mýa. Whilst not the most famous music artist of all time, she was certainly popular in the early noughties when this game came out, winning a Grammy award in 2002. I thought it was a pretty good song too and certainly better than some Bond film songs. She also features in the game as an NSA agent. EA really pulled out all the stops to make this a premium experience.
All this talent would not count for much however if the gameplay was not much fun. Thankfully, this was another area where the game excels. The action moves along at a nice pace with set pieces which you come to expect from the Bond franchise. The third person shooting mechanics were unspectacular but they did the job. What elevated it above other shooters was the use of the Bond gadgets provided by Q. These gadgets included the Nanosuit which made Bond temporarily invisible, Thermovision, Network Tap, the Q-Rappel which allowed you to scale walls and my personal favourite the Q-Spider. A remote controlled bomb and sleeper dart dispenser which could also turn invisible, it proved extremely handy in tight spots when you were down to a slither of health as you dispensed it to take out the last few enemies whilst you stayed behind the safety of cover.
The final cool gameplay element of this game worth highlighting is the ‘Bond Moments’. These moments are similar to Batman using his Batman senses in the Arkham games to highlight key items in the environment. Or Agent 47 using ‘Sense mode’ to highlight objects in the level. For 007, an example could be a chandelier being highlighted which Bond can shoot to crush his enemies. Or in a chase sequence 007 can take the normal road route to catch up with the enemy vehicle or use a shortcut via driving up a large industrial pipe for a Bond moment. These provide a lot of cool moments that you would expect to see in a Bond film and really add to the cinematic flair of the game.
Everything or Nothing was Pierce Brosnan’s last official appearance as Bond as it came after the 2002 film Die Another Day. That film is not considered to be one of the best Bond films as it does get a little ridiculous in places and I think you can tell Everything or Nothing takes some inspiration from the film in that aspect, which would be my only criticism of the game. For example, I have never really been a fan of invisibility tech, it just seems a bit outlandish. Die Another Day had an invisible Aston Martin Vanquish car and the game has an invisibility suit for Bond and the Q-Spider. Thankfully however, despite being a video game, there are no set pieces quite as ridiculous as the Die Another Day set piece of Bond surfing a tidal wave using a plane wing and parachute! Dear me, I still have nightmares about that scene.
Since Everything or Nothing we have had 6 other Bond games, none of which have got anywhere near close in quality and it looked like the Bond franchise in games was as dead as one of Goldfinger’s henchmen. That was until the recent news of IO Interactive earning themselves the rights and announcing their work on Project 007. Their work on Hitman shows that the franchise is in more than capable hands and like Everything or Nothing, it won’t have any ties to the storylines from the films, which is encouraging. Let us hope that Project 007 will leave us both shaken and stirred.