Publishers: Electronic Arts
Plot: 007 goes undercover to try and figure out if wealthy businessman Raphael Drake is actually behind a missing missile guidance chip.
On paper, Nightfire is a pretty standard first person shooter. You are given a series of maps, the usual objective that means getting from point A to B, via several nefarious bad guys, we can kill without a guilty conscience and little gameplay-wise that sets it from any other FPS shooter you might played on the PS2. However, there is a small benefit that Nightfire has over the competition: you play as Bond. James Bond.
As a result, you end up forgiving it for the small things. It feels a little like the movies, where even when the monotony of Roger Moore bringing out a different take on the same movie time after time again, that little 007 charm makes it really hard to condemn. It helps that the story feels a little more precise than Agent of Fire. There is less melodrama and more of a sense that the story developers were trying to create a Bond movie in their own right, only in game format. It is the little things that make Nightfire so fun to play, like adding its own opening credits title sequence whenever you log onto play. It helps that Pierce Brosnan felt like playing ball this time around, lending his alikeness to the player’s character. While the voice actor is different, it really does feel like you are playing James Bond. And therein lies the fun of Nightfire. The first mission, prologue aside, sees you storm a fortress in the Alps, only to peel off your ski suit and don a tuxedo, which lies underneath. Little moments like this really add to the atmosphere that Nightfire is going for. It is also much easier to get wrapped up in the story this time around, as Drake makes for an interesting bad guy to face off against. The supporting cast is also very entertaining, from the French agent, Dominique, who, of course, requires help from a certain British spy from time to time, to the sub-villains, a menacing Rook and a threatening twist baddie. While Agent Under Fire felt frustratingly by-the-numbers, it is easy to connect with Nightfire. You want to push forward, enjoying the action sequences, but just as happy to sit through the dialogue scenes, relishing the chance to see Brosnan charm his way through a party, moments after blowing up several vehicles crammed with bad guys. Even if the story does lose its way in the final mission – to up the stakes, the plot copies the ending to Moonraker, which is famously considered the one time Bond lost its cool. However, even that sequence is too brief to do little more than annoy the gamer. For the majority of Nightfire, you are playing the Bond game you’ve always wanted.
The 007 bonus moves are back with more precision this time around. It was the highlight of Agent Under Fire. You could charge through the mission, guns-blazing, yes, but the craftier spy would hang back and try and figure out a secondary way of completing the objective. By getting past a group of guards or stage of the mission the stealthier way you would earn a 007 point. It achieves little more than a tick in the mission round-up screen, but somehow you end up craving perfecting every one. Some of this is to do with the few bars of the famous 007 theme tune it belts out. Killing the sniper from a hidden vantage point before he has even seen you feels so cool, when it is followed by that ever-almighty soundtrack. Besides, when you are playing a Bond game, don’t you want to do it properly, the James Bond way? The fortress mission highlighted above is my personal highlight (a shame it is gotten out of the way so early), because there are so many alternate routes. The game deserves to be played multiple times just to see how each approach alters the gameplay. This variety dies out as the game progresses. It is meant to get harder, which is tougher for the developers to do when the gamer craftily dodges every encounter they are faced with. Yet it makes Nightfire feel more developed as a game, also appealing to both the FPS fans and the stealth gamer fans. The level maps also feel much more prominent than Agent Under Fire’s lazy map-building. Everything about Nightfire feels a little more precise, even if its one flaw is that the game is perilously short. It doesn’t take long at all to complete, even with the experimental alternative routes it offers up.
However, this does bring me to the multiplayer side of Nightfire, which while it doesn’t ever hit the dizzy heights of Goldeneye, does add some fun to be had, once the game has wrapped up. It is essentially a group of maps, all based on iconic moments in the actual Bond series, that double as an arena for some multiplayer fighting. It is pretty basic, essentially mimicking Goldeneye, but with the added bonus of never trying to be Goldeneye. While several other adaptations made their likeness to the classic N64 game their unique selling point, Nightfire simply drops it in, if we feel like using it. There is no pressure to absolutely nail the gameplay of this added feature in order to avoid a flop, because the game is more preoccupied with its storyline. As a result, it feels like just that: an added bonus. It’s a nice touch from the developers, not a divine right for the gamers. Once the game is wrapped up, you can either invite some friends around for a deathmatch, or set up your own AI opponents to fight. There is a selection of the more iconic villains to choose from and there is some good fun to be had from creating a team of good guys to help you out, giving the bad guys a group of tough characters and then swooping in and saving the day as 007. Nightfire will always have a charismatic memory in my head, because I lost so many gaming hours to simply going wild in this multiplayer mode. So yes, everything about Nightfire might be a little middling and routine, but once you have entered that 007 frame of mind, that doesn’t really stop you from having the time of your life.
Final Verdict: A standard FPS, with the flair and charisma of a 007 movie. Never before have we felt so much like our favourite 00 agent.