Bond. James Bond. Agent 007. License To Kill. The King Of Swing. The Lord Of The Dance.
Everybody’s favourite misogynistic prick has been capping fools on the written page for over sixty years, back handing mofos over balconies on the silver screen for over fifty years and drinking with dames in computer games for over thirty years.
Here is a fun fact that might blow your minds (or at least raise an eyebrow and make you go “Yesssh”). There are as many official E.O.N based James Bond video games as there are E.O.N produced James Bond films!
I know, right!
The first Bond game was James Bond 007 for the Atari. In it, you drove a car and shot villains.
Like all games of the era, it was very crud. Now it is time to skip forward fourteen years. If you want a full history of James Bond games, Google it as I have not the time or the patience to write it out. After all, this article/rant is about the future, not the past!
GoldenEye, the video game, is over twenty years old. Let that sink in for a moment.It is the game that revolutionized the industry, setting a higher bar for multiplayer by allowing you to slap midgets and shoot paint balls at Xenia Onatopp’s boobs, and it paved the way for the modern FPS. If it wasn’t for GoldenEye there would be no Rainbow Six or Medal of Honor meaning today there would be no Call Of Duty or Battlefield. In short, there are a lot of gamers who owe GoldenEye everything.
So why is it no Bond game has been as successful since? Rare lost the 007 license soon after GoldenEye’s release and what followed was the horribly shonky Tomorrow Never Dies on PSX which was one massive cluster of a fuck.
The soulless third person shooter lacked all the charm and hard work that made the previous game great. Still, it sold well so EA, who now had control of the franchise, kept that cash cow milking.
Next release was The World Is Not Enough, which returned to the first-person style, and Bond games have pretty much been the same since. Despite the odd little charm found here and there (Sean Connery returning to voice James in 2005’s From Russia With Love is a personal favourite) the adventures of Ian Fleming’s saucy spy have just been generic blasters overshadowed by their N64 Granddaddy. There was even an attempt to remake Goldeneye in 2010 but it felt like nothing more than a bog standard C.O.D clone.
So how do you make Bond great again? To do that you have to look at Goldeneye and see what made it such a game changer in the first place and that is the fact that it made you feel like James Bond.
Lately pop-culture franchise based games have been killing it in terms of fully immersive character experiences. The Arkham series makes you truly feel like The Dark Knight. Mad Max makes you truly feel like The Road Warrior. So how do you make one truly feel like an alcoholic womanising assassin? Why, open-world RPG FPS of course!
Believe it or not I didn’t get this idea whilst playing Fallout, but rather the original Dead Island a couple of years ago. A holiday resort setting would be perfect for an open world Bond game.
Picture if you will three islands of increasing difficulty. The first of which would be the resort itself, a small city full of casinos and bars for Bond to charm and interrogate his way through as he seeks information for his mission objectives. Maybe you could seduce a woman/man into giving you secret info. Perhaps you smack a toaster around some goon’s noggin until he spills the beans about covert operations.
The second island could be a forest/jungle level where 007 could fight ferocious beasts and interact with the island’s natives. You know, like a standard holiday to Centre Parcs.
The final island could be the villain’s base. Futuristic, high-tech weaponry and vehicles! Oh Jebus, let us not forget vehicles!
You could cruise around city streets in a sports car or race through the jungle in a Jeep. Maybe fly planes and helicopters but what I would be most interested in is aquatic vehicles. Bond games have never really explored the fact that James is a Royal Navy Commander so it would be good fun to steer a speed boat, a la From Russia With Love, explore underwater areas, a la Thunderball or maybe even get into a submarine punch-up, a la The Spy Who Loved Me.
My final reasoning for a Bethesda style Bond is the customizable options. Modifying guns, vehicles and costume is a given but how about creating your own James Bond rather than follow in the footsteps of a film actor? Or how about this, now that we live in an age where you can upload photos to games YOU could be Bond! How’s that for a fully immersive experience? Pick your accent and away you go!
As the game goes on you can earn points to spend on charm, luck, agility etc. I don’t feel like it needs to be based on a particular film or book but if you must choose one then make it Dr. No. You have the island locations plus the fact it’s the first Bond adventure, so it makes sense that your stats will start on 0 (or it could work with Casino Royale, depending on what you class as the first Bond story but that is another blog for another day).
Sadly at the moment the license to publish Bond games belongs to Activision, who have decided to “realign cost and revenues” which translates to them being cheap buggers and not take advantage of the franchise. On the plus side it means that Bond might be up for grabs and that we can finally have a new adventure built with the same love and attention as Goldeneye. Here is to hoping that James Bond Will Return.