The Bourne Conspiracy Review
|Developer:||High Moon Studios|
|Release Date:||June 27th, 2008 (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Andy Hemphill (Bandit)|
Let's start at the beginning. Jason Bourne was found floating in the sea off the coast of France by a fishing trawler. He had no memory of why he was there, and the only clue to his activities were the two bullets buried in his back, and the bank account number hidden in a laser pointer stitched into his hip.
From there he traipsed across the globe, unravelling the mystery of his previous life, and ensuring that he kicked as much ass and blew up as much expensive property as possible along the way. That's the basic premise of the first movie out of the way, and it's also the basic premise of this game.
So, the game revolves generally around the events of the first movie/book. But as well as detailing the fights and car chases so familiar to the hardcore Bourne movie fan, the game also explores past missions and events via flashbacks.
While Bourne fights his way through all the major scenes of the movie, including the fight with Castel in his apartment (ballpoint pen to the hand,) escaping the French police in a Mini (with Marie screaming in the passenger seat,) and shooting an agency goon while riding the body of a dead guy as you fall down a stairwell (awesome.) He also finds himself remembering the good old days, when his missions took him all over the world, from Lithuania to Russia and Switzerland, assassinating his targets and kicking ass wherever he went.
Sounds pretty good so far doesn't it? But before I launch into the merits and faults of this game, let me clear up one point- Matt Damon does not feature here at all. It seems that the producers didn't want to spring to the cost of hiring the great man himself, and have instead settled for a generic-Bourne who bares enough resemblance to Damon to be a little uncomfortable, but, that aside, he does the job just fine.
Bourne is a master of any weapon, be it an assault rifle, pistol or shotgun, but he more than just a trained shooter, he is a living weapon. His fists and feet are extensions of his body, and he can put them to use with devastating effect, delivering deadly blows from every considerable angle with the speed of a cornered viper. And this speed, when coupled with his ability to spot objects in the environment that would give him the edge in combat, make him the most deadly agent in the US arsenal.
Combat is in fact the majority of the game, and while it is fun and thrilling stuff, the game feels less like a story-driven adventure and more like a long sequence of shoot-fight-story, shoot-fight-story when it could have been so much deeper. The main problem however is that it is also ridiculously easy.
Hand-to-hand combat is controlled by two buttons, a 'fast' strike and a 'heavy' strike. Combining these two buttons results in 'combo's' that batter the enemy and earn you 'adrenaline' that can then be spent on 'takedowns.' Now this is where the game's combat gets a little more interesting.
Depending on where you happen to be standing when you unleash the takedown, Bourne will use the environment to his advantage. He may, for example, force his foe's head into a bookcase, or pick up a wrench and thwack them with it, he may even flip them up and throw them into a table or over a balustrade, and sometimes he will systematically break their bones and leave them for dead in a move that, while unnecessarily sadistic, is incredibly satisfying. And all of that by pressing the red button. No I'm not kidding, just the red button, it's that simple.
And it doesn't stop there; if you're surrounded by enemies you can unleash a multi-takedown, provided you have enough adrenaline and can time the required button press when it flashes on screen.
The game makes heavy use of these live action 'cinematics' and the press of a button at the right time can send Bourne springing to safety or diving under a table. This is perhaps done a little too often, but nevertheless it's still fun. Now, while there's nothing necessarily bad with the simplistic combat, when you combine it with the game's other flaws, it all starts to add up.
The gunplay, while exciting, is rendered largely pointless by Bourne's ability to regenerate health provided he remains in cover for a few seconds. And while the game tries to break up the sections by offering 'shooting takedowns,' they are disappointing, and nowhere near as much fun as the fist fights. Luckily, it is easy to go from shooting to hand-to-hand, all you have to do is nudge Bourne near to an enemy and he will disarm and batter your opponent while still dodging the bullets.
However, the obligatory car chase scene, while thrilling, is also far too easy and features a bullet-time-like 'adrenaline time' that, while a cool addition, has no real point or purpose other than allowing you to watch the terrible driving of the NPC's on the streets of Paris- needless to say, GTA this is not.
The story, while fairly accurate to the movie, is told in a series of badly acted cutscenes that don't do justice to its source material and leave massive holes in the plot. It sometimes seems like the makers of the game assumed that anyone who buys a Bourne game has seen the movies- fatal error. But this fault is saved by the sound effects, the musical score and the graphics- the hard punches sound painful, the guns are meaty and the score has all the music from the original movie, so even if you don't play as Matt Damon's Bourne, you can still whoop ass with the right music in the background and graphics sharp enough to see the blood fly.
That said, a great soundtrack and neat graphics hardly makes up for the lack of a multiplayer mode, and I'm sorry to say that this game commits what I would describe as the cardinal sin of gaming- it's short. Very short. I finished it in a little under two hours, and that's just not good enough for a game that relies on its boss fights for its replay-ability.
But, after a lot of ass-kicking, I've realised what this game is all about really. It's not trying to be an in depth spy thriller or a blockbuster movie, it's trying to let you be Bourne, the Bourne of the movies- the fast thinking, deadly fist fighter who will stop at nothing to get his memory back, and in this respect, it's spot on. It's definitely worth a rent.
- Brutal takedowns
- Great musical score
- You are Jason Bourne
Not so good stuff
- Far too short
- No Matt Damon
- Could get boring quickly