The names Bond, James Bond. The spy with many faces has certainly racked up a huge body count over the years, but equally impressive is the variety of video game offerings afforded to his fans. From handheld to home console, the James Bond experience has come in many forms over the years. Sadly for every Goldeneye there’s a Golden Gun waiting to spring out on unsuspecting fans.
With rumors of a next-gen James Bond in the works, I decided to take a look back and admire the best (and worst) of these classic titles.
Let us know if you disagree and what you consider your favorite.
14. 007 Racing (PS1) – The nicest thing you can say about this game is that not many people probably remember it. At a time when the PlayStation 1 was winding down, the James Bond license found itself being shuffled out in this terribly thought out spin-off racer. If the awful graphics don’t make you scream, the tank controls will. Add in some hilariously poor performance issues (and the added benefit of loading times that felt like waiting for the James Bond movie) and you’ve got plenty of reasons to never, ever return to this disaster zone.
13. 007 Legends (Xbox 360, PS3) – They fucked up royally here didn’t they? Shoehorning Daniel Craig’s Bond into some of the series classic moments is heresy enough, but to then not have Daniel Craig actually voice the man himself is just a folly of poor decisions. The game plays like a “Best of” collection, giving Activision all the license they needed to not bother with the game’s story. running on the same engine that powered Goldeneye Reloaded – performance is choppy at best with the action slowing to a hilarious crawl the second action picks up. I also seem to recall this game being shoved out the door to coincide with Skyfall; a decision that left the game without a proper conclusion. Don’t bother.
12. James Bond 007 (Game Boy) – Released in the shadow of Goldeneye (the movie), this game tries to ape the James Bond franchise with a bizarre mix between stealth and action. The 2D perspective hampers everything though, with awkward combat and some bizarrely designed levels really throwing you for a loop throughout. I never actually finished this game as some of the later puzzles are so insanely obtuse that you’ll need the patience of ten James Bonds to figure out the solution. It was nice to see Bond shrunk for the Gameboy, but this was one mission too far.
11. Goldeneye: Rogue Agent (Gamecube, PS2, Xbox) – You can feel EA reaching into your pocket and trying to pull the cash out with this lazy cash-in. The gimmick of the game is that you’re a rogue agent with a special bionic eye – get it? Sadly there’s nothing here to really make the game worth recommending as the game spends a good slice of its run time delivering the kind of heavy-handed fanservice that would Bond roll his eyes. familiar locales and enemies are wheeled out but the game never really steps up to the plate – instead throwing you the kind of weird generic gameplay that’ll make you yearn for the excitement of the earlier Goldeneye game.
10. Tomorrow Never Dies (PS1) – EA’s land grab of the James Bond license would prove to be an awkward moment for the franchise; with Tomorrow Never Dies being the first game delivered from this partnership. There’s nothing urgently wrong here that hundreds of other games weren’t already doing by this point on the PlayStation 1 – and that’s kind of the problem. It’s generic and almost tediously dull – to the point where you almost forget you’re supposed to be James Bond. The biggest problem for me was the inconsistent levels. Some stuck to the movie like a glove while others went off on wildly adventurous flights of fancy. It makes for a weird game and one I can’t say I remember all that fondly.
9. The World Is Not Enough (N64, PS1) – Borrowing more than a few cues from Goldeneye, The World Is Not Enough saw EA desperately chasing the Goldeneye crowd with a return to the FPS genre. The game itself varies in quality depending on where you choose to play it. Opt for the Nintendo 64 version and you get a passable if somewhat underwhelming Goldeneye knockoff – with a few interesting-but-not-terrible ideas thrown in to try and remind you this isn’t Goldeneye. Opt for the PlayStation 1 version and you’ll scream in horror at the appalling frame rate, laughably bad graphics and tedious controls that all but sink the game into an almost unplayable mess. Choose wisely as you dive in.
8. Goldeneye Reloaded (Wii, Xbox 360, PS3) – The official remake of the N64 game turns out to be something of a mixed bag. The decision to swap out Pierce Brosnan for Daniel Craig is well performed, but the decision to play fast and loose with the Goldeneye plot will leave fans scratching their heads awkwardly. The game play itself is very run of the mill – ejecting pretty much everything you remembered from the original game. The levels might share names but other than this, nostalgia is a cool customer in this package as the sleek Call of Duty gameplay slides into the James Bond skin. Set pieces are the order of the day with some fairly forgettable action littering proceedings. Things get notably more frustrating in the multiplayer arena – where gamers are subjected to an awkwardly sterile multiplayer component – robbed of the charm and fun that made Goldeneye such a fun experience back on the N64. Overall, disappointing.
7. Quantum of Solace (Xbox 360, PS3) – One of the few occasions where the game was arguably better than the movie it represented. Quantum rode the post-Modern Warfare momentum hard, delivering an experience that ran on the same engine as Infinity Ward’s insanely popular title. The result is a game that has many of the hallmarks of the Call of Duty game; with some furious action and equally impressive single player levels. It’s the multiplayer though that really intrigues – with gamers being afforded a robust selection of modes and options throughout. It’s an interesting package and certainly one of James Bond’s more underrated outings on the consoles if you’re in the market to be mildly surprised.
6. Nightfire (PS2, Xbox) – By this point EA was well and truly milking the James Bond cow for all it was worth. There’s ultimately nothing wrong with Nightfire – it makes clever use of famous James Bond locales. The problem is it feels too much like an attempt to tow the first person shooter line – delivering a s0-so experience that’s neither memorable nor truly exciting. Perhaps most disappointing of all, the multiplayer feels like a huge step back from Agent Under Fire – limiting options and creating the sense that EA were rushing these games out to get maximum return for their buck.
5. Everything or Nothing (PS2, Xbox) – A wonderfully over the top outing for the videogame series that really deserves an article all to itself (We’ll get, we promise!). Everything or Nothing really does indulge itself in the James Bond mythos, pulling in the likes of Judi Dench and John Cleese to voice their respective characters. Add in Pierce Brosnan, who makes a decent stab at voicing Bond throughout, and you’ve got a really wild title that doesn’t feel like anything EA were pushing out at this point. The third person mechanics have ages like milk though, so if you’re returning hoping to be blown away by some hugely impressive gameplay, you might be disappointed.
4. From Russia With Love (PS2, Xbox) – A love letter to arguably the greatest entry in the Bond series, From Russia With Love is a beautifully crafted experience that feels genuine in its attempts to garner love of hardcore Bond fans. Thanks to some versatile gaming options and well worked graphics – the game feels like a joy to play through and is an excellent outing for single-player enthusiasts. We also get the pleasure of Sean Connery returning to voice the young Bond – although the quality of this is wildly varying.
3. Blood Stone (Xbox 360, PS3) – Arguably the game that sank the legendarily brilliant Bizarre Creations – Blood Stone didn’t sell well and never really found the fan base that other James Bond game managed. It’s a true shame as this was arguably the best showcase of videogames helping to extend the James Bond franchise. From having its own theme song (Sung by Joss Stone, who also starred as the games female lead!) to some of the tightest shooting mechanics of the last generation – Blood Stone was certainly a James Bond experience. It also stars one of the single worst voice acting performances of any Hollywood star in a video game entry; with Daniel Craig sounding like he’s reciting his lines while bored on the toilet. There’s a lot to love with this game, and it’s certainly worthy of your time.
2. Agent Under Fire (PS2) – A real show stealer and for many James Bond fans, the closest the video games ever came to escaping the gravity of Goldeneye’s pull. Agent Under Fire is its own unique story, developed by EA Redwood Shores. Combining frantic first-person action and on-rails shooting segments; the game never lets up in its relentless pursuit of action and for gamers this means a selection of levels that feel like real Bond experiences. From the Streets of Bucharest to having a car chase against a tank; what’s not to love? Also helping this was a multiplayer component that shines brightly. Offering up immense customisation and delivering fast and frantic action – it’s right hoot with four friend.
1. Goldeneye (N64) – Technically Goldeneye is a limited first-person shooter that’s aged like bread. Returning to it today feels like going back to the dawn of first-person shooters, with laughably stiff controls and some of the most interesting design choices this side of the N64. But here’s the thing, none of that matters. The legacy of Goldeneye hangs long over the James Bond franchise of games; it’s just that good. Get four friends together and the multiplayer mode comes to life-like few other games. The single player is also a hugely fun outing, with scalable objectives and difficulty offering you more reasons to return. Goldeneye was a revolution upon its 1998 arrival, setting the bar for all console first-person shooters that followed.
Yes, there are technical issues but let’s be real here – has any other James Bond game really come close to match the popularity or cultural impact of Goldeneye? It wouldn’t feel right to put any other title ahead of Goldeneye when it’s still a good giggle all these years later.