Mini review of From Russia With Love on the PS2 in 2019!
- Developer: Rebellion/Visceral
- Publisher: E.A.
- Release date: 1st November 2005
- Genre: 3rd Person Adventure
- Platforms: PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Xbox, Gamecube
- Reviewed on: PS2
I can’t believe the editor went for this. Here I am, a hardcore Bond fan, writing a review for a 14-year-old James Bond game made for the PS2. Happy days! But don’t let that make you think I’ll have my Bond secret agent goggles on to mask over any shortcomings. Far from it.
So, how does it stack up to today’s standards? Pretty well actually but not without some massive gameplay issues. First of all, visually, a PS2 game on a modern 4K TV isn’t quite the assault on your eyes as you would think it would be, even when connected through the SCART cable connection. Yes, it lacks definition, is very blocky and bland, with limited weathering and rendering, and at times (when the player moves) the whole screen looks like it’s been coated in vaseline, but despite that, the artwork is excellent and sets the scenes very well, and it’s colourful and varied.
Like a lot of old-style linear games, From Russia with Love just gets on with it from the outset, and arguably the best level is the very first one. Bond saves the beautiful girl, whilst flying around on a jet pack around Big Ben, and shooting down other jetpack wearing enemies before culminating in a final boss fight against an assault helicopter. Take that 2019 games! Not long afterward you’re dashing around Istanbul blowing up tanks, shooting up embassies with machine guns and rocket launchers, cruising around on powerboats in underground river tunnels whilst manning a machine gun, then escaping in an exhilarating car chase, firing rockets and machine guns from your trusted DB5. All this is just the first third of the game.
However, with so much action-packed adventure, comes so many different gaming mechanics, and frankly, many of them don’t work well at all, especially the driving. It’s almost impossible to make small steering adjustments, so therefore you snake down a straight road, desperately trying to avoid other cars while just trying to go straight! The physics of the car, although not entirely bad, is made worse by the car wobbling on its springs at each weave, making the next weave even more pronounced. It got to the point that the handling of the DB5 was so bad, that anytime a driving section appeared, and there are a few, I groaned with an attitude of let’s just get this over with.
Jetpack flying, on the other hand, is absolutely excellent. Whilst flying you can fire machine guns and missiles whilst avoiding incoming fire, and as the controls are excellent, responsive and tight, this was really enjoyable.
For the most part of the game, Bond is on the ground and the gun aiming mechanics are really good, and it is a lot of fun to mow down hordes of enemies. Pressing R1 allows you to auto-aim, or you can manually aim some weapons such as the sniper rifle.
The look of the game for a PS2 title is really good, and each character was easily recognizable. Locales were littered with items to blow up and interesting things to look at, while character movements were smooth, with only occasional slow down when a lot of on-screen action occurred. Shooting down a helicopter amid tumbling shattering glass was one such occasion.
Finally, the audio was excellent, with some authentic Bond-esque theme music to encourage your progress through the levels, as well as massive explosions and realistic small arms fire. Jet packs thrusting, DB5’s revving and of course, Sean Connery voicing Bond himself. “Shimply Shtunning.”
No the game doesn’t look great, yes some of the controls are awful, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. Thrilling set-pieces, varied gameplay, and interesting content and story only goes to show you how bland a lot of today’s games have become in such a short space of time. It’s not perfect by a long shot, but it instantly reminded me just how fun and simple gaming could be.