This PS2 game might just be the best James Bond game ever made, and you've probably forgotten all about it

007 Nightfire P2 (2002)
(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

The soft mechanical whir of the PS2 springing to life makes me feel eight years old again, but not as much as what I'm playing. As perhaps the first multiplayer game I ever touched, 007 Nightfire will always be important to me. Countless Sunday afternoons were spent huddled with my brother beneath the glare of a chunky Panasonic TV, armed with plenty of snacks for inhaling and kitchen towel for wrapping around our DualShocks to keep greasy fingers at bay. That last step is probably why my older brother's PS2 still works so well; it's a dusty yet stoic time capsule that's now letting me relive our childhood favorites some 20 years later.

My memories of James Bond 007: Nightfire are about as fond as could be, rose-tinted nostalgia in mind. I'm talking specifically about its local multiplayer mode – my brother always played as Bond, James Bond, and I always opted for Dominique. We would go head to head in countless Team Arena standoffs against Phoenix – MI6's sworn enemy in Nightfire – and fend off those bots with varying levels of ease. One thing I never did, though, was play through the game's main campaign – so what better way to kick off my PS2 rediscovery than with the best bond game of all-time?

From 2002 with love

007 Nightfire P2 (2002)

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)
Blast from the past

Resident Evil 4 leon

(Image credit: Capcom)

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"But Jasmine," I hear you protest, "How can you say 007 Nightfire is the best Bond game ever if you've not actually played the main campaign?" You have a point there, reader, but let me assure you that I am certain of it after playing through the first three missions.

For starters, 007 Nightfire just gets what the Bond films are all about. That means we're instantly treated to the iconic Bond theme, a cinematic title card, and plenty of splashy secret agent action by way of cutscenes. Nightfire's take on Her Majesty's finest bears an impressive likeness to Pierce Brosnan – who, other than Roger Moore, was considered the definitive Bond in my household – and hearing Dame Judi Dench reprising her role as M has me downright giddy. The whole thing oozes an early-00s swagger that perfectly emulates the films of its time, and that Paris prelude? It definitely deserves an award for best game intro on PS2.

By the time I've breached Drake's castle walls in Mission 2, my mind is made up. I might be riding the nostalgia train right now, but the overwhelming positivity with which I looked back on 007 Nightfire was absolutely warranted. Dated as it is, all the gadgets and gizmos of Nightfire would go on to influence the super-spy fantasies of Hitman and any of the best stealth games. Want to crack that safe? Good thing there's a laser built into your OMEGA Seamaster. That sneaky mini camera? Perfect for top-secret espionage. Want to check how many enemies are waiting in the next room? It's a job for the thermal-imaging sunglasses. It's true: 22 years later, I am happy to report that 007 Nightfire is well and truly badass.

Locked and reloaded

007 Nightfire P2 (2002)

(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

My memories of James Bond 007: Nightfire are about as fond as could be.

Finally experiencing the campaign is an odd one for me. The controls are familiar (or at least, they came back to me after a slightly rusty start) but none of the story is. I treat each chapter like a mini dungeon of sorts, trying to work out the stealthiest and sneakiest way through my problems and ensuring to keep my silencer equipped at all times. To be honest, I was not looking forward to working with tank controls again – but thankfully, the gunplay feels a lot smoother than I anticipated. Nothing can stop me when I've my silencer equipped to my trusty Walther PPK, except maybe how dark the environments are.

Unsurprisingly, I was never the best at FPS games as an 8 year old. I have memories of my brother restarting our multiplayer sessions whenever the randomizer started us off with the game's more overpowered weapons: the Golden Gun and the elusive heat-seeking Sentinel. I complained bitterly every time. I was only ever any good at Nightfire if it meant I could camp out on the roof and shoot a rocket launcher at Jaws, after all, so why would he want to make it harder for me? You can imagine my total and utter elation upon finally getting my hands on a Sentinel in Mission 2. I still blew myself and Zoe up after over-enthusiastically firing it into our cable car mid-ambush, but the knowledge that it was waiting for me made replaying the section far less frustrating.

I'm still early on in my 007 Nightfire campaign journey, but so far, it's impressed me in almost every way. Using L1 to shoot instead of the trigger buttons definitely took some getting used to, but I can safely say that I'm now firmly on my way to bringing down Drake and my brother is no longer sitting next to me to stop me from overusing the rocket launcher. Now if only I had that one-hit-kill Golden Gun…

There's a new James Bond game in the works from Hitman developer IO. Here's what we know about Project 007 so far.

Jasmine Gould-Wilson
Staff Writer, GamesRadar+

Jasmine is a staff writer at GamesRadar+. Raised in Hong Kong and having graduated with an English Literature degree from Queen Mary, University of London in 2017, her passion for entertainment writing has taken her from reviewing underground concerts to blogging about the intersection between horror movies and browser games. Having made the career jump from TV broadcast operations to video games journalism during the pandemic, she cut her teeth as a freelance writer with TheGamer, Gamezo, and Tech Radar Gaming before accepting a full-time role here at GamesRadar. Whether Jasmine is researching the latest in gaming litigation for a news piece, writing how-to guides for The Sims 4, or extolling the necessity of a Resident Evil: CODE Veronica remake, you'll probably find her listening to metalcore at the same time.