Licence to Thrill: James Bond games through the ages

James Bond has been gracing our cinema screens for over 50 years now. He even stole the show at the Olympic Games. But the 007 super spy has always been rather hot and cold on the video games front.

With “007 Legends” hitting consoles today, and the new film, “Skyfall,” reaching cinemas next week, The Linc has a look over the history of Her Majesty’s Secret Service’s most decorated agent’s history in video games.


"007 Legends" has players coming up against iconic enemies, such as Jaws. Photo: Activision

It all started with “James Bond 007,” a game for the Atari consoles in 1983, based on the “Diamonds Are Forever,” “Moonraker,” “For Your Eyes Only” and “The Spy Who Loved Me” films.

The game was a simple side-scrolling video game with increasing levels of difficulty. Like all games from that era, its simplicity adds to the “just one more game” philosophy, which would have you wasting away in front of the screen.

The next instalment came just two years later, as a more sophisticated computer game available for a number of systems, including the popular Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC. “A View To A Kill” was the first of numerous direct movie spin-offs to feature James Bond, released around the release of the film.

While the technology at the time was rather primitive, it did involve three different scenes, varying from driving missions to shoot-em-up levels.

However, the early games never saw the popularity that their predecessors saw. It wasn’t until 1997 and the release of “Goldeneye 007″ that any real success could be measured. Goldeneye 007 is a game remembered fondly by fans of James Bond, due to its engaging single player campaign and its highly addictive multiplayer.

In the game, players take control of Pierce Brosnan in a first-person-shooter scenario, where they are tasked with stopping the Goldeneye satellite from destroying London – fairly different to the film of the same name’s plot.

While the single player was enjoyable, the multiplayer was where the game really came to life. In an age before network, LAN and online gaming, four friends in a room with Nintendo 64 controllers was a formula for great fun, no matter how good or bad you were with a pistol.

The next notable title was the ill-fated “007 Racing” – an entirely driving-based Bond game. Sadly, upon its release in 2000, it was littered with bugs and therefore slated by critics. It was good fun in small bursts but, as a game which relied on its linear storyline, it just didn’t have the strengths which Goldeneye 007 managed so well. Not only that, but Bond’s charm is all about his one-liners and quips; this title was discernibly lacking them.

In 2002, the Bond game franchise threw up arguably it’s most successful title, in the form of “James Bond: Nightfire.”

It had all the components to be great. Superb voice acting, a compelling plotline with a handful of beautiful Bond girls in the form of Kiko, Dominique Paradis, Zoe Nightshade and Alura McCall and, of course, a dastardly villain bent on world domination, Raphael Drake.

The gameplay of the single player missions was difficult and supplemented by the intelligent points system at the end of each adventure, which would unlock features for the multiplayer, such as new skins, maps and weapons.

Whereas the single player was a huge success, it was the game’s multiplayer which really stood out above the rest. The AI Bots, which you could add to the game, and the huge selection of weapons, from a remote control rocket to a golden gun, made the game’s multiplayer really exciting.

“Everything or Nothing” was released in 2002, which included its very own Bond soundtrack by Mýa, and voice acting from the entire Bond cast, including Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench and Pierce Brosnan.

The storyline was so deep, it felt like a less conceited Metal Gear Solid and, with all the detail, it was no surprise that there were calls for the game’s storyline to be made into a full feature-length film.

The game played out as a third-person-shooter and, with the added stealth element in this title. it worked brilliantly, as Bond travelled to Egypt, Tajikistan and Peru to fight villains, Nikolai Diavolo and Jaws.

The multiplayer head-to head was poor, but it was supplemented by a fantastic co-operative campaign, which linked in brilliantly with the main storyline.

With James Bond tie-ins at an all-time high, the announcement of “Goldeneye: Rogue Agent” generated a lot of buzz amongst gamers. Unfortunately, the end product wasn’t up to scratch.

The game featured overly-long missions, an awful HUD and a storyline which went against everything James Bond stood for. A truly woeful game in all respects.

There was a hope that the Bond franchise could return to form with “From Russia With Love” and movie spin-off, “Quantum of Solace.” Alas, while From Russia With Love was a passable effort, Quantum was another abysmal movie spin-off, with little merit.

2010 saw the release of “James Bond: Bloodstone,” which looked to use the Everything or Nothing model to create a great game. Regrettably, this wasn’t’ the case. The story was weak, the voice acting was poor and the gameplay was much akin to that of Quantum.

The franchise did enjoy a brief defibrillator burst with the port of Goldeneye to the Nintendo Wii, but what Bond fans really want is another brand new title to blow them away. Could they have it in 007 Legends?

“007 Legends” released today (Friday, October 19th) on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

2 Responses to Licence to Thrill: James Bond games through the ages

  1. Louis Reeve says:

    Great article, although there are definitely more games than these, tomorrow never dies and the world is not enough on the ps1 was excellent.

  2. I liked and didn’t like these games, but I must admit I should have featured more games! I just never owned some :( Hard life I know. 007 Legends is reportedly abysmal though! *sob*

Leave a Reply