Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy review

Delivers the speed and the flash, but not much else

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That's not to say you won't have an edge over your opponents, though; Jason can use his "Bourne sense" (which also slows time and reveals waypoints and weapons on the onscreen map) to see the outlines of enemies and automatically draw a bead on the nearest one. Also, build your adrenaline here and you'll be able to perform a long-range Takedown, which can safely and instantly kill up to three baddies in one burst. Your enemies will also frequently be dumb enough to cower behind cars, which can conveniently be turned into giant bombs with just a few shots.

Actually, your enemies are pretty dumb in general, and are almost as likely to stand out in the open, perfectly still, while they shoot at you as they are to run for cover. That said, they do tend to be excellent shots, able to shred your flimsy cover in a hurry. Evenwith Bourne's quick-to-regenerate health,you can expect a lot of frustrating, bullet-riddled deaths if you're not careful.

There are some highlights to all this, like a farmhouse level in which you'll need to guide Jason's love interest, Marie, to safety in the cellar by moving furniture to block the windows, thereby protecting her from a sniper known as The Professor. But these are rare, and are offset by levels in which the designers lazily created narrow paths by just strewing the ground with insurmountable knee-high obstacles.

There's also a driving level - that's right, just one - which you'll get to tear through late in the game, and which puts you in charge of escaping Parisian police in an indestructible Mini Cooper. Like with the rest of Conspiracy, it's entertaining, but there are plenty of games out there (*coughGTAcough*) that do it better. It's also got its share of inexplicable, artificial obstacles, like a tunnel that remains blocked until you've led the cops on a chase for a minute or so, at which point the truck that's blocking it decides to suddenly drive away.

Plotwise, Conspiracy is a Matt Damon-free adaptation of The Bourne Identity (the movie, not the book), which follows Bourne as he struggles to regain his memory and break away from the shadowy government agency that trained him. As it retells the story, Conspiracy spikes its narrative with flashbacks, which take over for the main story every time Jason sees something that triggers his memory. These original bits, which take the form of assassination missions in Jason's past, feature a few cool moments - like a savage battle in the belly of a cargo plane - and they pad out the game's runtime nicely. But they also make for jarring distractions from the central storyline, which can make things a bit confusing if you haven't already seen the movie.

As far as differences between the PS3 and 360 versions go, there really aren't any, except for one: the PS3 version requires a whopping 13-minute, 5GB installation. It's a minor irritation, but considering that the game isn't huge or particularly outstanding, it seems excessive.

For all its flaws, though, The Bourne Conspiracy is still a decent game - it just doesn't do enough to differentiate itself from all the other games like it. And while it's true that those games don't blend martial arts with duck-and-cover shooting, Conspiracy's approach to both of those things is just too shallow and repetitive. You could wring some fun out of this over a weekend, but - with GTA IV still reigning supreme and Metal Gear Solid 4 little more than a week away - why would you want to?

June 3, 2008

More info

DescriptionEssentially a Matt Damon-free adaptation of The Bourne Identity, this spy story delivers average - but extremely stylish - shooting, punching and occasional driving action.
Platform"PS3","Xbox 360"
US censor rating"Teen","Teen"
UK censor rating"",""
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)
Mikel Reparaz
After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.