Best & Worst: James Bond Videogames

Best: Goldeneye (1997)

The daddy. Thirteen years of hardware upgrades and software breakthroughs haven’t eclipsed the fat polygonal-headed fun of Rare’s first-person shooter, which remains the ultimate Bond tie-in.

It helps that the movie was such a belter, and arrived on a wave of enthusiasm for rebooted Bond and all its possibilities. But the game deserves huge credit too, for perfecting the atmosphere of 007 – all mission briefings, dossiers and wristwatch laser gadgets – and for taking locations and moments from the film and transforming them into brilliant gameplay sequences, like the opening dam bungee jump, the Soviet train and the brilliant, brilliant missile silo. Untouchable.

Worst: 007 Racing (2000)

The biggest irony being, of course, that this directionless spin-off doesn’t feature any racing whatsoever.

Instead it’s a wretched car combat title, unattached to any particular Bond film but featuring gadgets and cars from the 19 films which had been released at the time. Like the Aston Martin DB5, the BMW 750, the BMW Z8, and other manufacturer names followed by numbers which sound good. None of which stopped it from being an ugly, difficult to control and surprisingly slow waste of time.

Best: The World Is Not Enough (2000)

“If you can’t beat them, copy them as closely as possible” is the admittedly confusing moral of The World Is Not Enough, in which EA switch back to first-person shooting in a bid to purge its Goldeneye-flavoured demon. Because demons have flavours now.

The game is a box-ticker rather than an inspirational romp (Mad bullet-brained villain? Check. BMW Z8? Check. Mandatory skiing section? Check). But its accomplished and playable, and the high water mark for 007 outings on the original PlayStation.

Worst: Agent Under Fire (2001)

The first Bond game on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox took a different approach than most – an original storyline, cooked up in-house with none of that pesky waiting for a film to be released before we can make more money nonsense.

Which sounds good, until you end up with a plot full of companies called Identicon and Malprave and realise that EA haven’t paid for Pierce Brosnan’s face so you’re looking at a bland smug ersatz version and thinking what the hell. Over-automated first-person mechanics don’t help what is already a personality-free failure.

Best: Everything Or Nothing (2004)

Bingo. EA finally nails Brosnan-era Bond in an intricate and super-polished third person adventure that’s dripping with gadgets, gameplay kinks and, naturally, another sexy scientist lady.

Everything Or Nothing still feels a little on-rails – the auto-aim is so effective the shooting almost takes care of itself – but the locations scream globetrotting glamour, and Bond himself feels more maneouvrable and, well, Bond-like than ever, thanks to some brutal stealth attacks and a handy rappel toy.

Worst: Nightfire (2002)

Realising after Agent Under Fire that a balloon with a posh face drawn on it makes for a disastrous Bond – even if you do give it Pierce Brosnan’s hair – EA secured the return of the real deal for this second 007 stab at the PS2 cherry.

Sadly Pierce is the best thing about what’s otherwise a very average affair. A direct sequel to Agent Under Fire, Nightfire retains the mix of now-aging first-person shooting mixed with driving sections – driving sections given a polish by EA’s Need For Speed team but still basically rubbish.

Best: From Russia With Love (2005)

Displaying a smart bit of lateral thinking, EA followed up the brilliant Brosnan-starring Everything Or Nothing with a straight tie-in of Sean Connery’s From Russia With Love.

In a way it’s inspired – Brosnan’s Bond star was fading (he wouldn’t make another film as 007) and the shock of seeing a young Sir Sean in digital form was a very pleasant one. Nothing says ‘Bond’ like the Scotsman’s 'legs-askance shooting from the hip in a bowtie' pose, and the game – essentially a return to the mechanics of Everything Or Nothing with added jetpack – is very playable.

Worst: Goldeneye: Rogue Agent (2004)

Oh, no. Even with the excellent Everything Or Nothing under its belt, clearly EA felt unable to escape the blocky mid-90s shadow of Rare’s towering Goldeneye, and so delivered this laughably contrived non-sequel.

Swallow this, if you can: you don’t play Bond but a disgraced MI6 agent who crosses the city to work for Auric Goldfinger and is then given an actual golden eye which comes with various cybernetic capabilities. Good. God.

It’s a paper thin excuse to resurrect the name (you can imagine the pitch meeting “Hang on, lads…”) and one that treads all over the good work the game does, like getting Christopher Lee to return as Scaramanga and not being at all bad to play. Seriously, though: an actual golden eye?

Best: Blood Stone 007 (2010)

With MGM’s finances creaking precariously and Daniel Craig’s next Bond movie on hold, Activision have taken matters into their own hands to bring us an entirely new 007 adventure: Blood Stone. And yes, it does have Joss Stone in. Try not to think about it.

Developed by UK-based Bizzarre Creations – the team behind Project Gotham Racing – Blood Stone features some unsurprisingly strong driving sections, peppering an otherwise shoot-and-brutalise-heavy formula. It’s not groundbreaking, but it is solid, pacy fun, and the best Bond game on current-gen machines. Plus it could be the last we see of Craig in the tux for quite some time.

Worst: Quantum Of Solace (2008)

A changing of the guard – EA out, Activision in – resulted in Casino Royale not getting its own game. But turn that frown upside down, Casino Royale, because you get to share Quantum Of Solace’s game.

Then, after a period of reflection, return the frown to its original position. Despite high, high hopes – the engine behind world-smashing shooter Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare powers the game – Quantum Of Solace is a deeply average experience, with a meaty Daniel Craig man-doll cover-and-firing through the motions in a big, uninspired soup of OK.

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