Game Review: The Bourne Conspiracy
Release Date: June 3, 2008
Genre: Third-Person Espionage
Developer: High Moon Studio
Platform(s): PS3, XBOX 360
MSRP: $59.99 (both PS3 and XBOX 360)
After watching Jason Bourne kick some serious ass in three movies, Sierra Entertainment and High Moons Studio have brought Robert Ludlum’s thirty-million dollar weapon to the next-gen consoles. Although Matt Damon is not portraying one of his most famous roles, the game still carries out the style that came across in the movies. At first glance, I was a bit worried about how High Moon Studio’s character model for Jason Bourne would come across, but after you get into the story and action, the choice is not a bad one. The shaky cam, cat and mouse chases, and all-out brawls are all there.
The game is powered by the Unreal Engine, known for texture popping, and not even Jason Bourne can escape that. Though I did not see much of this with the environment, I encountered it while fighting enemies whose clothing was iffy at times with textures. Of course, after a couple seconds it would appear. But looking over this, the graphics are not bad. The lighting is spot on; the environment effects of rain, explosions, and the like are very accurate and realistic.
Half of the cutscenes are CG and the other half are in-engine. The CG cutscenes are nice, sometimes inaccurate with quality of character detail, but there are times you will be satisfied with what is given. The CG scenes have the feel of the movie with the camera work and delivery of story. The cutting in and out with the CG cutscenes does draw you out of the action.
The score is dramatic and goes well with the scene/level you are playing. As boss battles and swarms of enemies surround you, the music is befitting and adds to enjoyment of beating people down. Also what are done well are sound effects. Slamming someone’s head into a bathroom sink never sounded so brutal. High Moon Studio did a nice job of overlaying sounds of the environment (rain, cars, ambient city sounds), bone-crushing, and the orchestrated music all together, one not really overpowering the others.
The Bourne Conspiracy consists of three types of gameplay, with one only used once. For the majority of this game, you will be fighting hand-to-hand with anywhere from one to four enemies at one time. The hand-to-hand fighting feels at first like Fight Night with the closeness of the camera and Bourne has around eight combinations from the two buttons used. These parts of the game are nothing more than button-mashing sessions and be prepared to wait for opportunities while holding down the block button. The boss battles are a little long and tiring—and some of the bosses hang on zero health for far too long. Quicktime sequences come quite frequently during these fights, as well as some of the non-bosses. The timing and coming of these sequences is almost on a timer and you know when they will appear. I do have to say that smashing someone’s face into a sink, on a railing, stabbing someone in the hand with a pen are all entertaining and I never got sick of seeing it—it really caught that crude violence of the movies.
The gunplay is handled well and it reminded me a lot of Stranglehold, right down to the Takedown with guns as Bourne hits a certain button to take down a foe in a semi-cutscene in a highly stylized fashion (ala Tequila Bomb). The variety of weapons is not too vast, mostly pistols, rifles, and sub-machine guns. The gunplay is not the strongest mechanic, but it does well enough to pass.
The last bit of gameplay is a car chase, which the developer used only once. Some of the best scenes in the Bourne movies are the car chases and crashes and it was sadly underused. The one time here when it was used, it was borderline decent. The car does not handle as you would expect with other car racing titles; crashing, hitting obstacles and other cars do not register as you would expect a real car should. The developer did nail the craziness of the chase, blasting through the streets, allies, and buildings of Paris.
Throughout all of these are quicktime sequences some might find that come too quickly and with little warning. For most failings of not hitting the button in a timely manner, Bourne will die and you will be placed back at the last checkpoint. Do not think you can recognize the pattern if you fail, they will change it up on you.
This is a one-player game, no co-op or online multiplayer.
The controls are simple to follow and do not get complicated at any point. Also there are plenty of hints and reminders that appear to assist you as you progress.
There are about eleven missions to complete as Bourne treks through different areas of Europe. The game will take you anywhere between six to eight hours to complete, which you might find on the short side. Your stats are kept if you play through the game again and the best reason to go back is for the hand-to-hand combat. There are lots of items and objects lying around to break your enemies on, so that could be something to take you back through the game.
The Bourne Conspiracy is good entry into the third-person action genre, though some might find either the fighting or shooting tedious. It’s not a straight out brawler, nor is it a straight up shooter. The mix of action is good. The plot takes many liberties and you will only recognize certain things that happen, if you have followed the movies. This is not a true adaptation of the three films.
ETERNAL’S BOTTOM LINE:
I would not say it is a game you have to run out and purchase ASAP, but if you find it on sale or see it sitting at your local video game rental store, go ahead and pick it up.