EA has a history of trying to nab up the flavor of the month in order to try to seem up to date with the most popular trends. After the overwhelming success of Golden Eye on the N64 it is no surprise that EA has jumped at the chance to get the 007 license. 007 Racing is their third game with this license, the first two being games based on the last two movies.
The first thing that every reviewer has mentioned and so I will too is that this game is not a racing game like the name implies. It is not like a 007 Kart game where you and Odd Job and Octopussy all get cars and take off down the track. (Trust me, this would have been a better idea. I guess youíll just have to wait for Austin Powers Racing.) No this is a mission-based car game in the James Bond universe. Think of it as Golden Eye behind the wheel of an Aston Martin. Sounds like a good idea doesnít it? Well, it would have been had it not been for the frustrating rookie mistakes made on the part of the developers, Eutechyx.
The game plays a lot like Vigilante 8 with specific missions that you have to accomplish. This biggest difference is that 007 Racing suffers from serious claustrophobic problems. Each environment is very simplistic and strangely linear making the job of figuring out the mission extremely simple. The difficulty comes in because you have to get though most of these areas while tons of soldiers, cars, forklifts, you name it, are shooting at you. This becomes very difficult in a car that cannot really move with the same kind of agility with which a person can move. A typical attack involves getting shot, taking a shot, and then trying to turn around in a tight enclosed space while getting shot at some more.
I do want to be very clear about one thing: the car moves very well in the circumstances. Since this is an action game the car should be very responsive and quick on its wheels, and it is. The problem is not with the control or with the physics; the main trouble lies with the environments. If the game was a 1st person shooter, hallways and rooms full of objects would be ideal. However, for a car game to be enjoyable it needs more open areas than are available here.
Another design flaw I noticed had to do with the weapons. This is sort of a nitpicky thing but I have to mention it anyway if for no other reason than it amuses me. In this game you are Bond, James Bond, the most highly sought after secret agent in the world. You have gadgets, cars, and tons of weapons immediately at your dispense right? Well, in this game the car is only equipped with a machine gun. All of the other weapons that Q assures you comes with the car must be picked up along the road. So if you want missiles or oil slick or smoke screen you must get them from the many that are conveniently scattered around the enemiesí hideouts. Yes I realize that the game would not be very much fun without the weapons, but couldnít we equip the car with enough to finish the mission and let the gamer use them wisely? I mean, there are only so many one can pick up anyway. Or possibly enemies could drop them when they die like in other 1st person shooters. Either option would be better than believing that weapons are just scattered along the ground. Letís try to have a bit of realism, please.
Now for some more nitpicking. Graphically the game is nothing special. Most of the areas are bland and uninspired. The city areas are nice but it is was all done better in Driver and Die Hard Trilogy. Most of the time the cars just race around on flat single-textured ground. Also, the missions are long and if you fail near the very end you have to go back to the beginning and do it all over again. After about the 10th time you will be wondering why you are playing this game at all. Another little problem has to do with picking up weapons. Anything you pick up (aside from the shield) will immediately become your active weapon. So you could be picking off cars with missiles and run over a smoke screen and you will start blowing smoke out the back of the car. That is until you scroll the weapons back to what you were originally using. This may be a helpful trick in a shooter where each gun is simply more powerful than the last but here it is just stupid. On top of all that there is some very repetitive voice acting that really grates the nerves after a while even if it does sound authentic.
Oh, and I guess I should mention that the game does have a deathmatch 2 player option, but with all the amazing car combat games out there, this is definitely not a selling point. There are only two options and neither are original. I must say though that they do play fairly well and are a good combination of vehicular combat and 1st person deathmatch action.
All in all, this game does come off with a lot of promise and each level is fun the first time it is played. However, once all of the minor annoyances are added up, it just comes off as a game tries to frustrate and annoy instead of one that should challenge. The actual mission solving should be the difficult part, not the combat. What I mean to say is that it would be better if it pushed you to figure out how to solve the missions, instead of limiting your strategies by just bombarding you with enemies and gunfire in a small space. The concept of a mission-based car game was done well with Driver. Now if someone could just add guns to a game made that well, then we would really have something. With 007 racing all we have is a very promising, but poorly executed concept.
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