GoldenEye for the N64 is undisputedly one of the best first-person shooters ever made. Released in 1997, the game was both a critical and commercial success instantly becoming an all-time classic of the genre. Since then, however, the James Bond game franchise has become almost extinct. The series has been demoted to obscure and second-rate developers and suffers dire sales and equally dire reviews. 2012’S 007 Legends, the most recent 007 game, sold a meagre 0.58 million copies and received a Metacritic score of only 26/100 on PC. Looking back at 007 Nightfire, one of the most beloved games from my childhood, it is no surprise the series has almost disappeared.
Nightfire is almost as camp and ridiculous as Die Another Day, the film the game’s released coincided with. Starring Pierce Brosnan’s likeness, but strangely not his voice, the game’s storyline follows James Bond as he attempts to stop an evil industrialist destroying the world with nuclear missiles. Or at least that’s what I think was happening. The plot itself is never clear and is nothing more than excuse to drop Bond in increasingly ridiculous situations from driving an Aston Martin that inexplicably transforms into a submarine to disarming missiles being launched from an orbiting space station.
What strikes me most about Nightfire is that the game feels like it’s been devised by a 10 year old. Even the way Bond interacts with women seems childish and seems as though the developers never really grasped what flirting is (hardly surprising – they are game developers). With the exception of M, every female character gets off with Bond at some point. Yes, I know it’s a James Bond game but this 007 makes even Sean Connery’s Bond seem almost restrained, almost. At one point, Bond saves a captive geisha girl by leaping out of an air vent, killing 3 hostage takers and making a terrible one liner about sake. The geisha girl’s only response is to instantly snog him at which point Bond returns to gunning down countless waves of henchmen. Even worse is the disturbing groaning sound made whenever Bond kisses a girl, which is always the same sound.
Whilst the whole mistreatment of women appears solely in cut scenes, it highlights the biggest problem of the game and the franchise as a whole. Nightfire is by no means a bad game; the split-screen multiplayer is a blast to play and the gameplay itself is equally as good as Medal of Honor: Frontline and other first person shooter of the time. The issue I have with Nightfire, and the majority of the other games in the series, is that they are generic, albeit good, first-person shooters with all the James Bond aspects shoehorned in.
No matter how many gold 007 symbols you place around the map, no matter how many pointless gadgets you add to the inventory, video games will never fully realise the same magic you feel when you watch the James Bond films. When the 007 veneer is taken away, there is nothing appealing about Nightfire. It’s good but if I ever want to play a first-person shooter from the early noughties, I will always reach for the aforementioned Medal of Honor: Frontline and leave Nightfire tucked away in its dusty box in the attic.