Published by: Sierra Entertainment
Developed by: High Moon Studios
Release Date: Out Now
Take the main action sequences from the movie The Bourne Identity, throw in some flashback sequences and you will have a good idea of what The Bourne Conspiracy is about. For a game that's based around a movie it's quite enjoyable in places and if there's one thing the game does well it's taking you from one brutal fist-fight to the next. Unfortunately it's one of those games that you feel could have been so much better. There's quite a lot to like about the game but there are also a fair amount of things that will disappoint.
You'll play as the spy with amnesia, Jason Bourne. The game begins in Marseille with Bourne on a mission to assassinate an African tyrant by the name of Wombosi. It all goes pear-shaped however and Bourne just about escapes. The game is a mixture of fist-fights, shootouts, challenging boss fights and, thankfully, the odd driving sequence. Fans of the Bourne movies and books will get the most out of this game. There's not a lot of storyline here to fill in the blanks for those who aren't familiar with the films or Robert Ludlum's books. In some respects this is disappointing but as the game's main audience will be those who have watched the movies and read the books I daresay it shouldn't be too much of a problem.
The highlight of The Bourne Conspiracy has to be the fist-fights that Bourne finds himself in all too often. The combat in the game has been kept simplistic. You'll press the X button to do a quick punch or kick, the Y button to do a heavy punch or kick and the A button to block. There's a rudimentary combo system here too requiring three button press sequences. As you land successful attacks you'll fill your Adrenaline Meter. There are three tiers to the Adrenaline Meter and you can use a powerful takedown attack once a tier has been filled. By filling all three tiers you can perform a takedown attack on multiple enemies.
Whilst the hand-to-hand combat is actually quite enjoyable the same can't be said for the driving or shooting sequences in the game. The shooting sequences aren't especially bad but they just aren't as enjoyable as the fist-fights and this makes them feel like a chore. You can however, perform shooting takedown moves which are useful for removing multiple enemies that could otherwise cause problems. The driving, which thankfully you won't do much of just doesn't feel right. The handling feels all wrong and collisions with other vehicles can often leave you disorientated. It's a blessing in the disguise then that the driving is just a brief portion of the game. The game itself is also on the short side. You're probably not going to get six hours out of the game and with no multiplayer modes and little replay value it's not a game you're probably going to return to once you're done.
The game also includes some quick time event style moments. You'll have enemies fire at you and you'll need to press the appropriate button in time to avoid being killed. These moments are usually just after a checkpoint so if you are killed you don't have to backtrack much. The button you'll need to press is shown on screen and you have about a second to press the correct button. During boss fights you'll notice that they have the ability to do takedown moves on you but by pressing the correct button quick enough you'll manage to evade their attack. During those takedowns where you can take out multiple enemies you'll also have to press the appropriate button in time to perform a kill.
Bourne has a rather unique ability that helps him to find his bearings and locate useful items. This ability is known as the Bourne Instinct which is activated by pressing the Y button outside of the hand-to-hand combat sequences. With the Bourne Instinct activated you'll see icons indicating the direction of your primary objective and items of interest such as additional ammo and passports, which you'll need to unlock the ability to replay the boss fights again from the main menu.
For the most part The Bourne Conspiracy looks good although not everything in the game looks as good as it could have. The character models, whilst decent, certainly don't looks as good as in some of the other games that we've seen on the Xbox 360. There are some good visual effects here such as when you use the Bourne Instinct ability and the explosions in the game certainly look decent. The boss fights include some rather impressive takedown animations that are dependent on your location within the environment which is a nice touch. The game is played from a third-person perspective and switches to a side-on view when you're engaged in a fist-fight. For the most part the camera angles are generally fine but there are a few occasions when you're left with a less than ideal view of the action.
The Bourne Conspiracy is subtitled but the subtitles aren't enabled by default. You'll be able to follow the storyline without any problems thanks to the cutscenes being subtitled. All important dialogues in the main-game are also subtitled. If there's one complaint we have with the subtitles it's that you don't have a speaker's name or portrait placed alongside the text so it's not always crystal clear who is saying what. All tutorial messages are in text. The game tells you that a sound will alert you when a boss character is about to use a takedown move. This is true and there are no visual clues for this but the sound is a fraction of a second before the on screen prompt and not having any visual clues for the sound doesn't appear to cause any problems. Likewise a sound plays to alert you to the presence of a collectable passport and again there is no visual clue but you can see them on your radar by using the Bourne Instinct ability. During the game there are moments when you have a limited amount of time. For these moments a countdown timer is always displayed.
The Bourne Conspiracy is one of those games that's difficult to love or hate. The fist-fights, most notably the boss fights, are enjoyable and are easily the highlight of the game. Driving is a right pain and it's merciful that you don't do much of it. Those expecting to jump into the game and get a feel for the storyline will be disappointed with the lack of a quality of storyline here. It's as if the game assumes you've already watched the movies or read the books which on one hand is a natural assumption but it does kind of leave those who don't have any prior knowledge of the storyline out in the cold which is unfortunate. The length of the game is also unfortunate and you're not getting a lot of play time for your money.