James Bond 007: Nightfire Review

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There have been plenty of 007 games released over the years, many of which are pretty good. I’ve heard that Nightfire is often considered one of the best. I played this once before years ago but I didn’t get very far and I don’t remember which system I played it on. It may have been the PC version which I’ve heard is awful compared to the console version. Well I decided to find out for myself so for this review, I played through both. Developed by Eurocom and published by EA, Nightfire was released for GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox in November, 2002. I played the Xbox version. Gearbox Software developed the PC version which was also released in November, 2002 and JV Games developed the GameBoy Advance version, released in March, 2003. Nightfire is a sequel to Agent Under Fire and this time around, the developers used Pierce Brosnan’s likeness for Bond, but for some reason, they couldn’t get his voice.

You play as the iconic James Bond and some characters from Agent Under Fire do make a return. Bond is sent to a party at an Austrian castle owned by Raphael Drake. Apparently, a missile guidance chip was stolen from the United States and the party is a cover for Drake to retrieve the chip from a man who manages the Japanese branch of Drake’s company, Phoenix International. As expected, in typical 007 fashion, this leads to an evil plot that threatens the world and James Bond is the only man who can stop Drake. The voice acting is okay. I would say the performances are slightly better than what we heard in Agent Under Fire. I’m not really sure why the developers couldn’t get Pierce Brosnan to voice Bond but at least they got his appearance down. Overall, I thought the story was decent and found it to be a bit more interesting than the story in the previous game. But I can’t say I got very invested into the plot and it is a bit on the short side.

Bond can walk, run, jump, crouch, swim, use ropes to cross gaps, and equip body armor found throughout the environments. One of the biggest differences between the PC and console versions is that the PC version lacks the vehicle and rail missions. Some new first-person missions take their place, the Paris Prelude mission is just absent, and the missions that are shared between the two games are slightly different. Only some weapons are shared between both versions, the PC version lacks the unlockable stuff, and ultimately, the PC version is not as good. And the sad part is, it could have been a lot better. This version does feel a bit longer and that may be due to the new areas or just the difficulty increase, forcing you to take your time. The vehicle and rail missions in the console version are fun but the driving missions in particular are not as open as the ones in Agent Under Fire. One mission has you driving a car equipped with machine guns and you can also fire missiles. You must race against the clock and fend off enemies. Another driving mission has you driving around an island taking out it’s defenses and the most interesting what I’ll call “driving” mission has you piloting a vehicle underwater. You’ll have to avoid mines, disable censors, plant Q-Charges to destroy subs, and fire torpedoes at enemies. It’s a pretty cool mission but very linear and very trial and error. You fail an objective or die, and you must restart the entire mission. There are some cool rail missions. You’ll be in a helicopter with a sniper rifle taking out enemy vehicles, one has you riding in an armored snowmobile shooting back at enemies, and another one late in the game puts you in a plane. You’ll have to destroy enemy defenses, blow up bridges, shoot down enemy planes, and destroy enemy boats. The first-person missions are broken up into areas or checkpoints. In the PC version, I would highly recommend you utilize the quicksave function because it will save you from some serious frustration.

Nightfire gives you plenty of gadgets to use, some of which will be needed to progress. You’ll use the laser to cut through objects like locks but it can also be used to disarm satchels. The decryptor allows you basically hack things. You can once again grapple around the environments as long as there are grapple points. You’ll have to take pictures with the micro-camera and Q-Specs come with different vision modes, allowing you to see enemies more clearly or things like invisible laser trip wires. Most missions require you to use a gadget or two to progress but you’re not always forced to use all of them. But you are given the option. Sometimes secrets are located in areas that require gadgets to gain access. Sometimes gadgets can simply make your life easier. The vehicle missions allow you to utilize vehicle gadgets like a smokescreen and EMP but because these missions are very linear and short, it’s not like you can really experiment with them.

Guns will solve most of your problems in Nightfire and in my opinion, the console version has the better arsenal. You can acquire and equip pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, an automatic shotgun, rocket launchers, grenades, flashbangs, remote bombs, satchel charges, laser trip bombs, a crossbow, smoke grenades, and many weapons have alternate fire modes. For example, a rocket launcher can fire guided or unguided rockets and the grenade launcher can fire delayed grenades or grenades that explode on impact. Some weapons allow you to switch between single shot and auto or burst fire. And the alternate fire for other weapons is simply a silencer or, excuse me, a suppressor attachment. The Phoenix Ronin is one of the more interesting weapons. It’s a briefcase that opens up to reveal a rapid-firing gatling gun and can prove to be extremely dangerous. In the console version you’ll get your hands on the AIMS-20 and Phoenix Samurai. The AIMS-20 stands for “Advanced Individual Munitions System-20”. It’s a badass weapon that can not only fire bullets but also grenades, and comes with a built-in infra-red scope. The Phoenix Samurai is a laser weapon that’s extremely deadly but must cool down after being fired too many times. You can charge up a more powerful shot to unleash on your foes but it instantly overheats the weapon. While I prefer the arsenal in the console version, the PC version does have some cool exclusives like the X6 Annihilator which is a magazine-fed gatling gun and you’ll also get your hands on some kind of laser or energy weapon. The Annihilator is easily one of my favorite weapons and it’s one of the coolest things about the PC version. Weapons and ammo can be found throughout the environments and will be dropped by fallen enemies. Secrets usually house these items along with body armor so exploring is in your best interest.

Each mission comes with its own set of objectives and new objectives will often pop-up during missions. In both versions of the game, you’ll be infiltrating areas, planting Q-Worms on computers, destroying things, and killing bad guys. Some objectives are very trial and error and in some environments, it’s not always clear where you need to go, despite the game giving you hints. You still need to know how to get there. The game gives you the option to enable objective items to flash but I guess it’s not prominent enough because they can easily be missed if you’re not paying attention. There was a few missions where I found myself running around in circles for a few minutes. One of the highlights of the 007 series is the exotic locations and Nightfire will take you to Austria, Tokyo, Paris, and you’ll even get to float around in space. The PC version replaces one of the driving missions found in the console version with a first-person mission that takes you to an airfield where you need to remain undetected for a good chunk of the mission. The forced stealth missions in both versions are my least favorite. Basically if you’re detected and the enemies set off an alarm, you fail. And in one of these missions, you can’t kill anyone but you can fire tranquilizer darts to knock out enemies. Although, your fists can do the same thing. Now The missions present in both versions take you to the same locations but the actual environments themselves will often differ in layout and appearance, and the PC version will add entirely new areas to missions. With some missions, the differences are small and with others, they’re much more noticeable. You’ll have to take out a boss enemy towards the end of the game in the console version but on PC, you take him out somewhere in the middle, in an entirely different area. You’ll have to blow up transport vans in a car park on PC, a sequence not present in the console version. You’ll have to ride an elevator to the top of the Phoenix Building on console but scale the building using magnetic grapples on PC. While you get to ride in a plane in the console iteration of the Island mission, in the PC version, you’ll navigate the island on-foot.

Honestly, I like most of the changed and additional areas in the PC version and if this version didn’t have serious AI issues, I would probably prefer the missions that replace the vehicle and rail missions. That’s not because I hate these missions but because they are very short and linear. Although, the rail missions are pretty awesome. You’re going to spend a lot of time in the Phoenix Building and these areas reminds me of Die Hard. I felt like a British John McClane traversing through an office building blowing away bad guys. Blasting your way through the building is really cool and in the PC version, the missions that take place here are extended with new or different areas and additional objectives. Just like in Agent Under Fire, you’re scored at the end of missions in both versions of the game based on your performance. In the console version, high scores equate to medals and medals mean you unlock things like weapon and gadget upgrades, and multiplayer modes, characters, and modifiers, among other stuff. The PC version lacks the unlockable/reward system and that’s a major disappointment. It also eliminates most of the replay value. Outside of the multiple difficulty modes, there’s no real reason to replay through the single player in the PC version, specifically, especially because most of the time it’s just frustrating, at least if you’re playing on the Agent or 00 Agent difficulty modes.

The biggest problem with PC version is easily the enemy AI which is complete shit and makes most of the experience frustrating. Enemies are insanely accurate with their shots making every single area a slog to get through. If you’re in sight, you’re guaranteed to get shot and repeatedly by every enemy in the area. But that’s the only thing that makes them challenging. Other than that, they’re very stupid. They often run out into the open, they’ll just randomly run somewhere and then run back to where they were originally, and yet, despite their stupidity, they can hit you with shots from any weapon at almost any range and rarely miss. It’s insane. In both games, enemies will run around, take cover, shoot at you, snipe you, throw grenades, and fire rockets, but in the console version, they show a little more intelligence and don’t have super human accuracy, making the gameplay actually fun. And no, this version isn’t a walk in the park. Sometimes enemies will blow through walls or repel down ropes which is pretty cool and the action in the console version feels intense. I would say the same about the PC version if the enemy AI wasn’t so cheap and stupid.

Nightfire’s multiplayer on console is impressive to say the least. It supports up to four players locally but if you’re playing solo, you can play with up to six bots. There’s a good amount of multiplayer modes, most of which need to be unlocked, and just like in Agent Under Fire, you can customize the experience to your liking. Arena and Team Arena are your standard deathmatch and team deathmatch modes respectively. You’ve also got capture the flag, king of the hill, and team king of the hill. Top Agent returns but in name only. This time it’s just a last man standing type of mode. In Uplink, you need to activate satellites around the map to score points for your team. Industrial Espionage is one of my favorite modes. Your team needs to find the blueprints located somewhere on the map and bring it back to your base. In Demolition and Protection, one team needs to attack a site while the other defends and these two modes are probably more enjoyable with actual players based on my experience. In Assassination, one player is an assassin and another is a target. The target is randomly chosen and whoever kills the assassin becomes the next assassin. In GoldenEye Strike, your team needs to collect all the GoldenEye controls to eliminate the opposing team. There’s a small selection of maps to choose from and Ravine is the only map that doesn’t allow you to play with bots. The maps range in size from small to somewhat large and they are set in different locations.

The console version gives you a lot of control over how you configure multiplayer matches. You can, of course, choose your character and decide if you want a health handicap. The unlockable characters also make up the bots. Many of the characters are from the film series which is really cool but they have preset stats that can’t be changed but if you choose any of the other characters as bots, you can configure their personality, move speed, aggression, accuracy rating, health, reaction time, and recovery rate. Their personality will affect their behavior significantly. For example, one of the options will cause a bot to only target weak opponents and another will make it target the last opponent that killed it. In addition to configuring bot behavior, you can also configure different aspects of the match like the duration, point limit, if you want remote controlled tanks or helicopters to spawn, and if you want gun emplacements in the map. You can choose one of different weapon sets but sadly, you cannot create your own custom set. Despite the lack of some customization elements seen in the previous game, there is a lot to play around with here that can make for some really fun multiplayer action. As I said, the multiplayer here is impressive and I think that’s mainly due to the amount of control you’re given.

The multiplayer in the PC version only comes with the Combat Training, Team Combat Training, and Capture the Flag game types and you can play with bots. You choose your own character and the characters do make up the bots just like in the console version. Unfortunately, you don’t have that much control over the matches or bots but you can set each individual bot’s skill level. But that’s about it. And just so you know, I did see some multiplayer servers out there but no active games. There is a larger selection of maps here and if there’s a modding community, I would imagine it gives this game an edge because I would think there are fan-made maps you can download. Although, I didn’t really look so don’t quote me on that. The bots perform well enough but not as intelligently as the bots in the Xbox version. They’ll shoot at you and each other, I’ve seen them use gadgets, they’ll go for pickups, and they’ll go for the flags in Capture the Flag. But they all share the same personality and behavior.

Nightfire definitely looks better than its predecessor and you might say the PC version looks “cleaner” for lack of a better word. But I do think some of the environments look a little bland in this version, but that may be due to the game’s age. The character animations are superior in the console version. In the PC version, character movement and death animations look a bit stiff as opposed to the console version where they appear a bit more natural and fluid. On the audio side, as expected, the soundtrack is filled with classic 007 music. The sound effects, especially in the console version, are top notch. Explosions and weapons fire sounds loud and powerful in both versions. Now on PC, enemies will say and shout generic shit but in the console version, they will often communicate to each other when they spot you and shout out your location. It’s most noticeable in the Nuclear Power Plant mission where you’ll have to deal with a lot of enemy snipers. As for the technical aspects, the console version ran smooth more often than not but the frame rate noticeably dropped when the action got really busy or explosions filled the screen. During cut scenes, I noticed that characters would attempt to walk out of view but you can see their animation get stuck or stop so you can still see them in the background.

To get the PC version running on Windows 10, I followed the instructions on the game’s PCGamingWiki page. First I installed the game then I installed patch 1.1. Then I installed the fan-made patch that restores the online server browser, improves netcode, fixes bugs, and lets you change the field of view, among other things. It comes with a launcher where you can adjust different options and also adds another executable that launches the game. Through the launcher, I could get to the main menu but couldn’t actually play the game. It would just crash. But I found that I was able to play if I launched the game from the new executable. I played around with the options in the launcher like launching it in windowed mode, I tried enabling borderless window, I enabled and disabled v-sync, but nothing I tried allowed me to play the game through the launcher. Regardless, I was able to play it thanks to that executable and it ran okay. It should be noted that whenever I run it, I’m prompted to apply the Nvidia graphics corruption fix. If I click “Yes”, the game doesn’t launch. If I click “No”, it launches without issue. I did limit the frame rate to sixty which I think resulted in some sequences appearing a bit choppy. Leaning left and right is glitchy, some weapons appear cut off which I’m guessing is due the game running in widescreen, and sometimes loading a quicksave results in Bond holding what appears to be multiple weapons just glitching out which can be resolved by switching weapons. Also, I use the ALT+TAB function often and for the first half of the game, it worked fine. But after a while, I would try to re-enter the game window and everything was black forcing me to restart the game.

I think Nightfire is a fantastic shooter, specifically the console version. The PC version is just a mess. It was created by a different developer and runs on a different engine but it’s also not as polished and it’s unnecessarily frustrating thanks to piss-poor enemy AI with super aim. The console version may be a bit shorter but it’s also not as broken, it plays well, and the difficulty feels fair. I also prefer the weapons in this version and the multiplayer mode truly shines. As I said before, the PC version could have been so much better. I actually enjoyed most of the additional areas and environmental changes. For example, the Island mission shows a lot of potential and I would have had more fun blasting my way through it if it wasn’t for the poorly coded enemy AI. Sadly, this applies to every single mission. I don’t mind a challenge but the PC version of Nightfire is just cheap. You can inch your way around a corner or into a doorway and before you have the time to even see what awaits you, an enemy is already pummeling you with gunfire. It’s outrageous. This version is essentially just filled with quests to find body armor every five minutes but the alternatives are you can either try and stealth your way through missions or abuse the quicksave system which is probably what most players will do. I certainly did. Regardless, the console version is where it’s at and while it’s short, it’s a blast to play. You get to visit multiple exotic locations, navigate through interesting environments, and kill a ton of bad guys. And thanks to the unlockable content in this version, multiplayer mode, and multiple difficulty modes, there’s plenty of reasons to return.

I would absolutely recommend the console version of Nightfire. If you’re just interested in the single player, stay away from the PC version. It’s just frustrating and lacks content. Although, from what I’ve played of the multiplayer, even though it lacks the game types and customization options seen in the console version, it can be enjoyable. Out of all the 007 games I have played, the console version of Nightfire is easily one of my favorites. I do wish there were more missions and a little more freedom when it comes to the vehicle missions but they do have their moments. There are some real highlights here like riding on the top of an elevator as enemies attack you from everywhere. The rail mission where you’re riding in a plane and fending off attackers. And the final missions where you get to use some of the coolest weapons in the game. If you’re a fan of 007, first-person shooters, and/or action games, definitely check out Nightfire.

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