Review: Spies aren't made, they're Bourne.
I like the Bourne movies. I found that I enjoyed the layers of conspiracy, the intense action sequences, and, yes, even Matt Damon. The movies worked on many different levels for me and the compelling story and setting almost beg for a large scale videogame adaptation. Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy, last summer's attempt at capturing the feel of the movies, takes a few nice swings at the formula but never really connects for any kind of impact.
For those of you that have seen The Bourne Identity (and for those of you that haven't: Shame on you. It is a pretty good movie.) the story in The Bourne Conspiracy will be instantly familiar. The game draws pretty heavily from the film with a few doses of flashback action thrown in to help stretch the game into a solid 6-7 hours of gameplay. There are some well executed quick-time events (QTEs) that help tie the game and the movie together but overall, the game just feels like a generic action title with cutscenes that tell you that you're playing a Bourne game.
The Bourne Conspiracy is broken into three primary gameplay areas; Hand-to-hand combat, gunplay, and driving. While none of these three areas are glaringly deficient, none of them really stand out either. The fighting uses two attack buttons and a block button and the combo-based system never really feels comfortable, the gunplay is bland and uninspired, and the driving felt tacked on. This combat is broken up with the use of the aforementioned QTEs and a pretty slick takedown feature. These two items enter into cinematic sequences that mimic some of the memorable moments in the movie, like jabbing a pen into the hand of a rival assassin.
Unfortunately, these unique moments don't come often enough to break up the repetition of the brawling combat. This aspect of the game just doesn't have the depth to carry a title like The Bourne Conspiracy and eventually just breaks down into a chore. By the end of the game, I found myself tweaking my play style to try and grab more achievements. This added to the difficulty of playing through the game but took away from the cinematic feel that the developer was shooting for by turning the whole process into a grind session. Combine this with lifeless European locales (I swear that there should have been more people on the streets) and extremely linear story and level progression and the end result feels like it belongs in the last console generation. A word of advice for the team working on the next Bourne game: learn a few lessons from Assassin's Creed. It has some well executed ideas on how to interact with crowds and how to incorporate them into a living and breathing game world, dealing with multiple enemies during combat, and crafting a memorable experience.