James Bond 007: Nightfire PC Review

Someone once said that there is a far greater difference between “good” and “great” than “good” and “bad”. Nightfire fits squarely in this definition. Some parts are good or at least tolerable, others are inexcusably bad. All together they made a decent, but not note worthy game.
The first thing the player will see is a neat little intro movie that evokes the colorful Bond openings. I actually think this is one of the better parts of the game, which isn’t saying much about the game. Once you actually get in to the levels its first flaw is the engine.
Nightfire uses the Half life engine, which is in it self a rebuilt Quake II engine. The HL engine was in its prime six years ago. To their credit the developers squeeze all they can from it. The characters and world objects are well defined with lots of polygons and generally look fairly good. Each level’s detail is on par with the most other games out now. The water effects, shiny surfaces, and crisp textures are well done. However the tell tail signs of age are evident. The game lacks many of the modern bells and whistles players have come to expect. Character animations aren’t smooth enough and no rag doll physics to speak of. The lighting, shadow, and weapon effects still look like they did in 1998. Clearly the devs polished up the engine but its undoubtly underpowered by today’s standards. Obsolete may be another word.
What will make or break any game is the gameplay. Nightfire does not stray from the standard FPS model, but it doesn’t bring much to it. It’s fairly standard shoot, pick up armor/health, and shoot more FPS fodder. That really is it. The core gameplay isn’t anything to rave about. What it does add are the “Bond” touches. In addition to weapons the player has access to a number of gadgets inspired by the films. These had a lot of potentional, but more of a distraction than an integral component. Every once in a while you will have to use one to progress in the game. However they are each serve a single use. The watch laser cuts locks for example. You can’t use it as any kind of weapon and has no effect on the enemies. There simply isn’t much else to do with them. The music and story are inspired by the Bond films, and done better there too. Neither is used to any great extent and you won’t get to know much of the characters either. On an occasion there is a moment that evokes the movies. An early part has you take pictures of gorgeous women with a camera hidden in a cigarette lighter. The “night vision goggles” are slick sunglasses that Bond slips on. There is a good selection of exotic high tech weapons that have a high rate of fire. However it’s usual stable of FPS guns (pistol, SMG, sniper, rocket launcher, grenades, etc.) that are available in any other game. Still the “Bond” components aren’t enough or used to best effect.
There is some irritating level design in Nightfire. The game helpfully includes a list of objectives. But how you get to them is often too vague. For example one level has crippling a computer network as an objective. But what is this? Do I hit a switch or shoot a power generator, what? This is not made clear. I ran around shooting every computer in sight hoping to accomplish this. It was not until I got to the level after it that I did take out this computer network. Why was I told to do this in the previous level when I could not in fact do so? Often the levels are hard simply because it’s unclear how you are supposed to advance to the next part.
Everything aside the biggest flaw is the AI. It’s rock stupid. It doesn’t qualify as “intelligence” at all really. Enemies will come running in to your fire, ignore loud sounds like grenades exploding, shoot in to walls, slow to react, and generally make Forest Gump look like Garry Kasparov. In one instance I aimed the sniper rifle at one bad guy’s head but missed by a hair. Despite the thundering gun shot sound and bullet hole just behind his head, he failed to notice anything. He stood there as if nothing had happened. There are many more instances of incredible incompetence though out the game, suffice to say its just plain bad. Considering that AI in Half Life was one of the best ever its baffling why six years later Nightfire features some of the worst possible.
The end result is a game that is entertaining on a basic level but fails to impress or generate much excitement. It’s doesn’t overtly fail and follows tried and true conventional design. This could actually be very entertaining to someone not familiar with currently FPS games. However it’s AI is terrible and the overall average quality doesn’t stand out.

Verdict: 75/100

Written by: Brent

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