Classic ‘Bond’ films show up in ’From Russia with Love’

By Aidan Finn, Staff Writer

The “Bond” movies are one of those cinematic behemoths up there with “Back to the Future,” “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” that had to have been seen before one grew up to truly have nostalgia for. Even R-rated flicks fit this category like the “Terminator” films or “Robocop.” Few can remember what exactly introduced them to these series, whether it be grandma’s VHS library, the AMC channel after bedtime or the good old days of browsing Blockbuster for a weekend rental. But, they absolutely can be recognized by name and have, at least the tiniest, of happy memories tied to them. 

I can’t remember the exact first time I saw the classic “Bond” films for the first time. I likely saw them during one of my elementary school summers when I went down the rabbit hole of old movies at my dying Blockbuster, the one that initial drew me in with microwave popcorn buckets. Nonetheless, I can remember finding the 60s spy thrillers incredibly boring and corny, with little action. I played most movies on those portable DVD players that I’d kill to get my hands on again. 

The films, like nearly all high school mandatory reading novels, became much more enjoyable when revisited them later. Sean Connrey nailed the definitive spy archetype, Cold War tensions and nuances of the time period made them deeply engaging. My favorite, coincidentally, was the 1963 outing “From Russia with Love.” The second Bond film had an engaging plot of a Soviet and British spy both being played by the criminal organization Spectre in 1960s Turkey, with an explosive final act that put the nice but rather dull Dr. No to shame. 

I’ve covered various adaptations of classic films into games that turned out to be good, like “Rockstar’s The Warriors” and EA’s “The Godfather.” While it’s tied with 1963’s “The Great Escape,” “From Russia with Love” is definitely one, if not the, oldest movie to be adapted into a video game. The game came from EA right off the heels of the wildly successful “Everything or Nothing 007” title produced by the publisher in 2003. While that Pierce Brosnan Bond adventure is worthy of another review, “From Russia with Love” is my favorite given its extensive presentation effort put into replicating the spunk of a colorful Cold War Connery Bond movie. 

Directly adapting the story of the film with a few pinches of new action to spice things up, the game follows Bond (played by Sean Connery in what would be his final performance) on a mission in Turkey to locate a Soviet coding machine, running into a beautiful Soviet agent and an intimidating Spectre assassin along with way.

A mix of driving and shootouts make up the rhythm of the game, with occasional missions where you utilize the Thunderball jetpack made of cardboard and smoke machines (I dig that retro look). 

Shooting actually feels quite responsive and accurate for a game of its age. You can zoom into your crosshairs for direct headshots and achieve “Bond Moments” by pulling off trick shots and destroying specific set pieces in Bond style. Driving will take a bit to get used to given it is a bit stiff and centered to the left of the camera for some reason and the game is guilty of the sixth console gen sin of reusing environments frequently to save memory. 

You have an inventory system that allows you to select from various period-appropriate weapons and gadgets like laser watches and grappling hooks, with several creative instances incentivizing you to use them instead of going in guns blazing. Of course unlockable upgrades and outfits help in allowing you to play however you want. Tuxedo in a Russia military base? Completely A-OK. 

Overall, it was great fun to experience this passionate throwback to classic Bond and even more great to see it holds up quite well for a 15+ year old game based on a near 60 year old movie. 

“From Russia with Love” is available on PS2, Xbox, and GameCube.

 

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