MI6 reviews the Game Boy Advance version of "Everything or Nothing" - the only new James Bond 007 adventure this year...

EoN Game Boy Advance Review
3rd December 2003

Bond fans may have to wait until late February 2004 for the next-generation console release of "Everything or Nothing", but hand-held gamers can sample 007's latest adventure early on the Game Boy Advance version - out now.

Squeezing the Hollywood cast, feature-length plot and mammoth locations onto such a tiny and restricted platform can not have been easy, and it shows. Although the game blurb boasts a parallel plot to its' "bigger brother" console version, in reality it is more of a "lite" re-spin.

Shoe-horning the plot of the next-generation console version of "Everything or Nothing" onto the GBA clearly has its problems. Not only do we completely lose Shannon Elizabeth's "Serena St. Germaine" character from the plot (Mya takes over the Bond Girl role), but also huge swathes of the plot are condensed into 3 lines of text from M in between missions. Poor old 003 only gets a couple of lines before he makes his exit, although going by the track record of other 00 agents in the movie series, he should probably count himself lucky.


Official Game Blurb

James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing once again finds the world’s greatest secret agent fighting to save the world from a diabolical madman; former KGB agent Nikolai Diavolo. Armed with metal-eating nanotech, Diavolo’s private army will steamroll the forces of the free world, unless Bond and CIA agent Mya Starling can stop Diavolo’s forces in Egypt, Peru and New Orleans, culminating in a deadly battle beneath Moscow’s Red Square!

From cutting-edge gadgets to exotic locations, James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing will add a new level of drama and excitement to the James Bond experience.

There are two main elements to EoN on the GBA:

Third Person Bond
The game starts promisingly with Bond escaping the Nanotech Facility (as with the EoN demo for the next-generation consoles) with shots of a cut-scene, plenty of dialog from M and Q, and a pumping music track. The disappointment hits on mission two however, when you discover mission one only took 45 seconds to complete, and there is very little CG artwork or adrenaline pumping action from here on in.

The later third-person perspective levels are mainly roamers, where you follow a set path around a map shooting, punching or strangling goons as you progress. The graphics of the locations change, but the gameplay stays much the same.

"Driving" is perhaps a misnomer for this part of EoN. "Sliding" would perhaps be more appropriate, as there seem to be no real-world physics present at all. The gameplay is similar to the classic "Spy Hunter" (which Domark's "The Spy Who Loved Me" later `borrowed`) but put on an isometric perspective rather than top-down vertical scroller. Your cars (Vanquish, Porsche Cayenne) are exactly the same functionally - only differing by the tiny static sprite. Smoke screens, machine guns and rockets are standard equipment, and reap havoc with the enemy cars with little effort. It is all worth while though, as the highlight of the driving missions is John Cleese screaming "Great driving 007!".

Above: Front and back box artwork.
  Is That All, 007?
Longevity is where EoN falls short, and by some distance. With only eight missions (yes, 8!), and you should not really count the first mission as it only takes one minute to complete, there is very little to come back for. We play-tested the game with ten volunteers - some regular gamers, some just Bond fans - and everyone completed it in under 2 or 3 hours. This is expensive entertainment for $29.99.

There are a number of reasons why the game will not have you coming back for more after you run through the missions with very few restarts. Firstly, the scoring system is based entirely around "style points" (earned by stealth take downs and completing objectives), so there are no bonuses for completing levels quickly, accurately or healthy. These elements, and having secret unlocks for cheats, is what made "GoldenEye" the best Bond game ever - sadly nobody since seems to have caught on.

Secondly, the two-tier objective system falls short. Initially it looks promising, with "Primary" objectives needed to complete the mission, and "Secondary" objectives for bonus style points. Unfortunately the secondary objectives are almost always the same (Stealth take downs, find data discs, destroy so many items, etc), and no reward is offered except style points. The only "unlock" in EoN is a bonus game of BlackJack which has been tacked onto the options menu once you earn 2,500 style points (out of a maximum of 5,000). Do not get too excited though, the only Bond element during the mini-game is the 007 theme music.

The highlights of the gameplay are the boss levels which are excellently executed for the GBA. You get to fight Jaws twice (once in a train yard and once in an underground HQ), a couple of vehicles (including Nadanova's platinum tank), and of course the villain in his HQ for the finale. There are no hints offered as to how 007 can defeat Jaws or Diavolo who are immune to bullets and punches, but stay tuned to MI6 later this week for a players guide to EoN.

Looking And..
EoN is saved by its graphics. GBA games often suffer from a cartoony graphical style due to the low resolution display, but credit to Griptonite for making EoN look semi-realistic given the obvious restrictions. Bond is modeled well, as are all of the human characters, but the vehicles could have been better. The character artwork for the dialog and mission briefing sequences are also well done - John Cleese in particular. John Cleese steals the show with his passionate one liners ("Oh really, 007!" when you punch a scientist). The graphics are only let down by the representation of Judi Dench's M who looks a little like a monkey sporting a moustache whilst sounding worryingly like a female Yoda ("Help you I will, 007"). Regrettably Dame Judi Dench did not voice her own character due to time constraints.

..Sounding Good
The music, cut down from Sean Callery's console score by Ian Stocker for the GBA, has it's moments of Bondage and the tracks suit their locations well. Some GBA games have sounded like cell phone ring tones, but EoN sounds good - even with the volume ramped up to maximum. The real musical treat is Mya's theme song for "Everything or Nothing", which makes two appearances. The main menu contains an instrumental version (recreated rather than sampled due to the restrictions of a GBA cartridge), but the end credits have some lines sung by Mya overlaid. The song is catchy and poppy, much in the same vein as "Die Another Day" by Madonna, but this song seems more commercially friendly. It got most of us humming it the day after, which is a sure sign of a potential hit.

James Bond Will Return
If you can remember the Super Nintendo from 10 years ago, you can imagine what this game looks and plays like, albeit on a 2.5" screen handheld. Yes, Bond is back, but the overwhelming impression is that this `mini-me` has tried too hard to compress a console game onto a handheld - rather than focusing on what handhelds do well.

$29.99 might seem a little pricey for an 8-mission game, but as a first course it certainly whets the appetite for the next-gen version of "Everything or Nothing" due out in February next year.


MI6 Rating (10 Maximum)

Time's up, 007
We didn't have time to mention: the nanobot swarms surrounding some guards that "eat" bullets, having your health magically restored between sub-levels, the abundance of medi-kits making the game too easy, the Russian sub-villain called Antonov (did nobody watch "Die Another Day"), the dull dialogue Bond reels off to characters, and just how does Q manage to create new gadgets so quickly between missions?

Order Online
UK - MI6 GBA Price: £24.99
USA - MI6 GBA Price: $29.99

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