I have a theory. Game developers need to start considering a new pricing model for certain games.
In recent years a new breed of games has started to crop up… fun, exciting and yet extremely short games. The Bourne Conspiracy is a perfect example of this new type of game, let’s call them One Day Wonder Games. These are basically the premature ejaculation of gaming, good fun but over way too soon. You never really feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. When games are an under-ten-hours, single-player-only experience then I am not getting a full game, I am getting the equivalent of an expansion pack. I believe these games need a new pricing model, but that is perhaps an argument for another time. In the meantime let’s talk Bourne…
The Bourne Conspiracy is an interesting type of licenced game as it takes from both the movie and the book series it is based on. You won’t be seeing a digitised Matt Damon here, instead we have a Bourne who seems very similar to Mr Damon just slightly better looking (sorry Matt) but with less personality (go Matt!).
The main story focuses on the first movie, while there are flashback/prequel type sections taken from the novel. These are meant to give you a better view into the character and what he was like before losing his memory and becoming a malfunctioning 30-million-dollar weapon. As far as I could tell though, he killed people and didn’t say much then; and he kills people and doesn’t say much now. Memory loss or not, his personality is pretty much the same.
This was a real opportunity for the developers to tell a much fuller and more interesting story than just the movie. Unfortunately they did not grasp this opportunity. You never really learn more about him from his past, and the re-telling of key movie scenes (done by quite nice looking CGI cut-scenes) are very similar to the movie but without a lot of character depth or back-story. I wonder if I hadn’t watched the movie if I would have been able to figure out what was actually going on, because not much was really explained.
The gameplay is broken up into primarily two separate games, with a third one thrown in about two-thirds through the game just to break things up a little. The two main parts are hand-to-hand fighting (mostly awesome) and shooting (not so awesome). Let’s get the so-so part out of the way. Shooting handles like a fairly traditional third-person shooter with cover included. To be honest, with Gears of War being a few years old now, I don’t understand how every developer hasn’t learnt how to copy them properly. That is what the gunplay should feel like, and yet very few games have actually managed to get it right. Firstly, the controls are pretty loose and the targeting is kind of a joke. There were many times when I got headshots after shooting quite a bit over someone's head and then way too many times where I wouldn’t get a headshot even though I was targeting them right between the eyes.
There is quite a bit of destructible cover, so you can’t keep still for too long. This is fine because one thing Bourne is all about is moving. Probably the biggest problem with the shooting parts is that they slow you down too much. The best parts of the game are when you are on the run, bullets flying past you until you turn a corner and have some bad guy trying to kill you in a fist fight (big mistake). You really start to feel the rush and excitement of these levels. Some levels have you chasing, sneaking (very little sneaking) and escaping. The escaping levels, hands down, are the best and most exhilarating ones and make each little fight feel a little panicked as if you have to finish them off quickly and keep moving.
Every level is extremely linear and the game has a great feature called “Bourne Instinct” that you can activate, which always shows you where you need to go and where enemies are in the area. Oh, except for the driving stage, where instead it slows everything down in a bullet-time fashion.
There is one (and only one) driving stage in the game. This seems like it was added on simply because the chase scene was in the movie. You are running from the police in Paris. Besides being a little too long, this stage wasn’t all that bad. It maintained that same pace and excitement of all the other escaping missions just with the extra twist of driving. It was a welcome change from the rest of the game even if it didn't feel like it fitted in too well and was a little tacked on.