MI6 reviews the latest 007 game from EA, "Everything or Nothing". Is it the best Bond game ever?

"Everything or Nothing" Review
19th February 2004

Back in 1997 a Bond title was released by Rareware that would set the gaming world alight. That was "GoldenEye 64", and seven years on, it is still the yardstick by which all 007 games are measured. The monolithic shadow cast over future games would always ensure the "best game of all time", as it was touted by the trade press, kept it's mantle almost unassailable. Could this all be set to change with EA's latest offering "Everything or Nothing"? The short answer is yes.... and no.

A Stellar Cast

If you have been living under a rock for the past year, now is the time to come out, otherwise you will miss the talents of Pierce Brosnan (James Bond), Shannon Elizabeth (Serena St. Germaine), Willem Defoe (Nikolai Diavolo), Heidi Klum (Katya Nadanova), Misaki Ito (Miss Nagai), Richard Kiel (Jaws), John Cleese (Q) and Dame Judi Dench (M) making their big to small screen transition - with great style. The EA character artists have captured the best likenesses of the actors to date, with stunning accuracy and fantastic animation. The experience hasn’t been cut short with the digital recreation of the characters alone, as all of the cast also provided extensive voice over work for their characters. To put it simply, this is the Bond movie for 2004.

A View To A Thrill

Bond gamers may recall the atrocious title "Tomorrow Never Dies" on the PSX, EA's first venture into the 007 franchise after Rareware's sensational "GoldenEye 64". Rather than competing with the classic FPS shooter, EA pulled the camera back to a third-person perspective. It didn't work. Their following game, "The World Is Not Enough", quickly returned to the tried and tested FPS genre, and was followed in style by "Agent Under Fire" and "NightFire". Growing ever closer to the cinematic style of Bond, EA have made a brave decision and switched back to the third-person perspective for "Everything or Nothing". Executive Producer Scot Blackwood explained to MI6 last year that it was imperative to have Bond on screen if you are to believe you are immersed in his world. We quite agree, and unlike TND, "everything" works this time.

Controlling Bond in this 3rd person perspective is made extremely smooth with EA's no-nonesense control and targeting system. A small red cursor is used to show the player where Bond is aiming, and this can be fine tuned to pick out specific targets such as heads and shoulders sticking out from behind cover. Rather than allowing the target to float freely in "mouse" like control, as with most FPS shooters, the auto-targeting selects the nearest or best target and you can simply rotate through the available targets by hitting a button. This at first seems like a perfect solution, but it is marred slightly when you are faced with multiple targets and the constant tapping of the `next target` button becomes a little frustrating. Credit must go to EA for spending a lot of development time getting this system fine tuned though, it could very easily have gone wrong and become either too easy or too frustrating.


Once you have got to grips with the targeting system, the game quickly becomes more challenging as the goons learn to duck for cover and dodge your volleys of attack. This also applies to the excellent hand-to-hand combat system. Use the same attack combination multiple times and they will wise up to your technique and adapt counters.

Packing A Punch

For the first time in a Bond game, "Everything or Nothing" has a complete hand-to-hand combat system that you will have to use throughout the game, not just when your ammo runs out. The simple two punch buttons can be using in various combinations to deliver a cornucopia of attacks, left-right punches and kicks. As well as knocking seven shades out of the goons with your knuckles and size 10's, 007's judo training also comes in handy when you apply the throw moves - especially deadly when the goon's landing site is somewhere after a long drop. Luckily for Bond, the goons stop firing whenever you take on an enemy with hand-to-hand combat, so you don't have to worry about being shot whilst throwing your best right hook.

Above: Agent Mya Starling and James Bond model the Aston Martin Vanquish in downtown New Orleans.

Better Than Looking Cleverer Than You Are

Not only do the goons wise up to your attack strategies, they also pack a few surprises of their own. If you take too long snooping around or hiding behind cover, you will begin to hear the unnerving "clink, clink" of grenades heading your way. Possibly the best animations of the game come into play whenever there are explosions in close quarters.

"NightFire" pulled close to the cinematic format laid out for the next generation Bond games, but the transition between the FPS shooting missions and the driving levels jarred and the gameplay "variety" was split into these two distinct camps. EoN does not suffer this same problem though, thanks to creative additions to the mission structure.

The "rappelling" feature works tremendously well, and brings a freshness to the third-person shooting levels, as do the "boss fights" which are straight out of the Nintendo School of Game Design. These breaks in the format ensure you are kept on your toes, until you get to use some of Bond's new vehicles.

"Nice Day For A Drive"

Using a respin of the "Need For Speed" racing engine, the vehicle missions in EoN are much improved on "NightFire"s attempt to blend the shooting and driving aspects seamlessly. Too seamlessly it would happen, as EA originally made the transition between shooting and driving too smooth for the tester's liking, and back came the "mission complete" scoring screens in between stages. Using cars, SUVs, motorcycles and helicopters, it would be easy to have quantity rather than quality - but not here. None of the driving missions feel skimped on or rushed, and prove to be some of the most exhilarating missions of the whole game. The polygon counts for each of the vehicles has been ramped up to show smooth curvy bodywork and reflections that car showrooms would be proud of.

Graphically, Bond has never been better - but that is inevitable. With the constant march of technology and increasing development knowledge of the console platforms, game graphics will naturally improve as time goes on, but there are some notable touches which pick "Everything or Nothing" out from the crowd. Explosions, water effects, smoke trails, ricochets, blur effects, slow motion, Bond sense... The eye-candy doesn't let up, and neither do the neat spot-effects and animations that bring the otherwise robotic characters to life.

The only disappointment in the graphical buffet are some of the textures. The PS2 is renowned for not having the sharpest graphics of the next generation consoles, but the same occasional blurred or plain textures appear on the Xbox and GameCube too. Only when Bond is surrounded by lots of explosions and multiple effects (usually water features or particle effects) can the frame rate drop to the occasional shudder. Otherwise, the performance of the 3D engine is a well greased machine, an impressive feat when you consider the size of the level maps and the number of polygons use for the models. As is usually the case for EA cross platform titles, the Xbox enjoys the best graphics (marginally), so the choice of platform should really be based on which prefer for controls

Cool As A Cucumber

In the movie "GoldenEye", when Bond has his back to a pillar in Trevelyan's HQ and a goon's round let's loose the plasterboard next to his face, he simply raises and eyebrow and gets on with setting a mine timer. Bond is perhaps the coolest character under pressure in cinematic history, and EA's latest incarnation of Fleming's creation is ice cold. The one-liner, a Bond invention which is often mimicked but never mastered by others, is in full force here. Writer Bruce Feirstein, whose credits include work on "GoldenEye", "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "The World Is Not Enough" provides and smorgasbord of witty retorts and cringe worthy puns.


Above: Bond assess the fate awaiting Mya, waits for a contact with the Vanquish, and contemplates the long way down.

Which leads us nicely on to the audio experience of "Everything or Nothing", and surprisingly for a game, is the best aspect of the title. "24" composer Sean Callery is another big Hollywood talent that EA have brought in to the gaming fold EoN. His work is simply stunning, all of the familiar Bond riffs are in there, but the are not overworked, with Callery's soundtrack incorporating the traditional Bond-faire within a rich tapestry of symphonic tracks mixed with modern synth effects. Each location Bond visits is complimented perfectly with music befitting the scenes, from romantic interludes to high-octane action. Mya provides the main title song as well as performing a role in the game, with three different versions of the track used throughout. Spot effects such as explosions and weapons fire are authentically recreated too, along with amusing enemy chatter, utilizing the surround sound to deepen your immersion into Bond's environment. Callery scored over an hour of original music for the game, and it's needed, as you will not be getting through EoN in one afternoon's play.

A Long Way To Go

Not only are there an impressive 29 missions (as well as 4 unlockable bonus missions) dotted across four main locales, but each mission is a lot longer than previous Bond outings. So much so, that the missions have to be loaded on the fly whilst playing through them, but you will not notice any pauses or jerks in the gameplay due to the careful pre-loading done in the background. With the inclusion of "boss fights" and multiple paths though each mission (the most obvious example is the choice between the Porsche Cayenne and the Chimera motorcycle in the "Train Chase" mission), the longevity of EoN far surpasses it's predecessors. Both "Agent Under Fire" and "NightFire" came in for some criticism that the adventures were too short, but "Everything or Nothing" goes further than before - and some. We estimate the average play-though time of EoN to be around 12 hours, and that does not include going back to perfect missions for Platinum status and those tempting unlocks bonuses.


So far so good - great missions, brilliant graphics, even better sound... Could this be the "GoldenEye 64" beater everyone has been waiting for?

Disappointingly, no. Whilst the single player aspect of EoN is far superior to that of "GoldenEye", with the reward system vastly improved with useful cheats and unlocks rather than "NightFire"s `trading card` extras, the multiplayer experience will leave most gamers wanting.

"I Prefer To Work Alone"

Rather than providing a straight-forward "death match" out of the box, an interesting new concept of "co-op" play has been developed into a standalone feature with 13 missions stretched over three locations and a multitude of non-Bond characters. It can be seen as a separate game in its own right, but do not expect the same quality and lavish attention to detail that the main one-player game enjoys. The "co-op" mission plays more like an arcade button basher, compared to the slick one-player Bond missions, but it is still good fun and the dynamic of having to rely on each other in order to complete the missions will certainly entertain. PS2 owners in the USA can enjoy this feature online, playing with "co-op" partners from anywhere in the country, but sadly the same functionality is not extended to anywhere else in the world, or on the other platforms. This is disappointing as many of EA’s recent titles have stretched to include multiplayer support in Europe

If you don't have any friends to hand when you fancy a game of "Arena", which is a four-player `death match` on a single-screen unlocked when you complete the "co-op" game, you now face the main setback that will haunt "Everything or Nothing". Bots are missing. All games are subject to release date pressure and tough decisions about which areas to spend valuable time developing are made, but the omission of any AI players from the multiplayer Arena mode may not be easily forgiven by some gamers. Due to the third person perspective, don't expect a split screen display either, as all four characters are forced into the same screen - zoomed out to quite an extent at times to fit everything in. As a multiplayer feature, it is good clean fun, but it's unlikely to have many gamers burning the midnight oil for "one more last game ". This is where "GoldenEye 64" still triumphs, and clings on to it's "best Bond game ever" status, albeit by the skin of its teeth. The King is still alive, long live the King.

Aside from the multiplayer issues, the other main bugbear that may annoy Bond fans is the overuse of the invisible cloaking "technology" from "Die Another Day", stretching the "5 minutes into the future" Bond rule to breaking point.

Now Listen Carefully, 007

So if multiplayer let EoN down, how could it improve? Although the third-person perspective prevents the easy FPS style death match, there is no reason why a two-player split-screen mode, much like the "co-op" feature, could not have been delivered. Pushing this feature into four-player mode might be too much for the systems and screen resolution to handle effectively, but the omission of a two player head-to-head mode is puzzling. If EA want to deliver cutting edge Bond games, then they also need to go into areas Bond has never been before. Split-screen multiplayer driving missions have never been tackled in the mainstream franchise of Bond adventures, and would provide a welcome break to the shooting fests.

It is clear that significant effort is being made to deliver an experience as close to a "Bond Movie" as is possible in the games domain, but the reliance of FMV sequences still detract from the otherwise seemless flow of missions. Pulling the inter-mission (pun intended) sequences into the game engine, rather than using pre-rendered videos featuring characters that look slight different to the in-game versions, would help prevent this discrepancy throwing gamers out of the experience and pushing them back in again once the video ends.

Everything or Nothing

Buy "Everything or Nothing". Play "Everything or Nothing". Enjoy "Everything or Nothing". Whether you come back to the game in six month's time is the nagging issue, but the good news is that by then, the next 007 title from EA will be well on its way.


Summary: "Everything or Nothing" is the best single-player Bond adventure to date with a fun "co-op" feature, but despite the extensive unlocks and bonus system included, the disappointing death match mode does not surpass the legendary “Goldeneye 64” multiplayer action which has for so long set in stone the standard for Bond games.

MI6 Rating (10 Maximum)


PlayStation $49.99
Xbox $49.99
GameCube $49.99
GBA $29.99
PlayStation 2 £29.99
Xbox £29.99
GameCube £29.99
GBA £24.99

Images courtesy EA Games and Amazon Associates.

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