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REVIEWED: Bourne Conspiracy

All smoke and mirrors...

It's being billed as a revolution in action games, but now the final code is in, the Conspiracy has been unravelled and there's some serious mulling over scores to be done down the pub...

See, half the Xbox World team love it, half hate it. Granted, this was always going to be an audacious and potentially catastrophic experiment; after all, replicating the frenetic pace and luscious cinematography of the movies in game form is no mean feat.

To achieve that though, certain constraints had to be put in place. After all, Bourne simply isn't made for the sandbox universe - his world is one of snap decision-making and hair's breadth escapes. And, on that charge, High Moon have succeeded admirably. Three figure speeds at all times, your nerves will be jangling for the (disappointingly fleeting) six hours it takes to beat the game. Aside from perhaps CoD 2, Conspiracy is the most breakneck game we've ever laid eyes on.

EURO TRASH

What'll initially grab your attention is the hand-to-hand combat. Melée scraps look incredible, with the tilty-tilty Paul Greengrass-homage cam, bone-crunching effects and pumping soundtrack. Fights resonate with a truly epic feel. The problem is, behind the technical virtuosity lies all the depth of Rumble Roses XX. You might look like a Krav Maga magician, but all you're really doing is mashing y and x. Luckily the shooting is far more fleshed-out, with solid cover mechanics and memorable Euro locales rammed with destructible paraphernalia.

To help capture that feeling of controlling a thirty million dollar weapon, Jase comes packing some nifty skills to give him the edge on the legion of evildoers. Top of the bill is Bourne Awareness, a kind of super spy sixth sense that instantly identifies escape routes and key targets. The much-vaunted takedowns, which Bourne builds up by pummelling opponents, are also a treat. Simply press b and Jase will utilise such unlikely props as books, fuse boxes, jukeboxes or just his plain old fists to mash up foes. Thanks to spot-on motion capture and authentic choreography, you'll feel like a proper badass when you ram somebody's skull through a microwave or plunge a biro between their digits.

Bourne gleefully resurrects the age old QTE debate, and Dragon's Lair-esque it may be, but we grew to almost sadistically enjoy being permanently on edge during cut-scenes, knowing that taking our eyes off the screen for a second could result in a grisly end. But it's likely to send gamers spoiled on an open-world, multiple-route diet of GTA potty - and those lengthy restart loading times are simply unacceptable.

BOURNE FREE

The Bourne Conspiracy is actually an important yardstick for the state of videogames at this point in time. Okay, so GTA IV has just proved that sandbox games are where it's at, but that doesn't mean there's no place for linearity. Actually, we're not fans of the 'L' word. What Bourne provides is a consistently focused, white-knuckle ride that succeeds in transforming the player into Jason Bourne and capturing the frantic, life-or-death intensity of his existence. In this sense, it's a job well done.

But, Conspiracy's defiantly old school gameplay is going to nark off as many gamers as it thrills. It might look sexier than Lucy Pinder, but at times it feels as puddle-deep as Jade Goody. Still, if you're willing to overlook its more obvious limitations then you'll end up enjoying an action experience unlike any other.

Verdict:
Insanely linear and frustrating, but it absolutely nails the movie experience.

77%

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