High Moon Studios takes on the overwhelming task of turning the Bourne Conspiracy franchise into game form. The Bourne Franchise leaped off the pages of Robert Ludlum’s novels onto the silver screen, and now it's gaming's turn. In what could have been a giant mixed up mess, The Bourne Conspiracy turns into one of the most action packed movie adaptation games ever made. The Bourne Conspiracy - The Game is more than watching or reading the adventure, it's being in them. Jason Bourne would be proud that High Moon Studios and Sierra have created a stylized immersion into the world of Bourne.
When companies have the wild idea of turning a strong movie franchise into a game like the long running Bourne series, it is time to start wondering. The Bourne Conspiracy trilogy has been highly successful with all the inkling that it will follow in the footsteps of James Bond. Bourne is a more of the common man, a new type of hero who doesn’t get caught up in the lavish playboy lifestyle like his rival counterparts. Bourne is the ultimate weapon locked into a modest body; well that is the films take. In game form, High Moon Studios (Darkwatch) explores Bourne as more than the pacifist victim. In the Bourne Conspiracy you will get to unleash a focused and determined Bourne onto his enemies, capturing the action and brilliance of the film.
High Moon Studios does an excellent job bringing the gamer into the world of Bourne. More than creating a generic action game, High Moon had to capturing the fast paced action that Doug Liam has directed in the films, and it is good to see just how "Hollywood" a well produced action game can be. Even if you haven't seen the film you can get into Bourne the game, however you should be aware that playing Bourne will give you a few spoilers into the movies plot. If you have already seen the first Bourne film (The Bourne Identity) then you probably enjoy the gameplay moments High Moon selected for the game, along with the extra holes they inflated. Filled with a number of flashback moments from Bourne's career, you start the game before the events in the first film as Jason attempts to assassinate the African Dictator Nykawana Wombosi.
For those who don’t know anything about Robert Ludlum’s novels, or inspired films, the Bourne franchise follows lead character Jason Bourne as he fights against the odds to find hidden truths behind his amnesia. As Jason slowly unravels the truth he finds out that he is a highly trained CIA Black Op's assassin from the secret project labeled Operation Treadstone. These upper echelon assassins are programmed to act without questioning their commands, void of emotion and reason. Not truly understanding his circumstances Jason chooses to run from Operation Treadstone which turns into an agent gone rouge. In the agencies eyes Jason Bourne must be terminated, making Jason a marked man on the run from the vary people who made him what he is. Fighting against the CIA, local police, and Treadstone assassins makes for an enjoyable ride with a lot of great moments, in the films, and mirrored in the game.
As you progress through the game you will get to explore some cool flashback experiences that involve a masterful gunfight at Zurich International Airport and an intense fight against an army general complete with a showdown with an armored tank. You will also get to spend sometime exploring parts from the first Bourne film like running from the law in the embassy escape, and silencing the sniper in the woods. The car chase from the film in the always entertaining Mini Cooper is also included. All the way until the finial round in the Treadstone Safehouse in Paris, the Bourne Conspiracy is relentless delivering the same explosive action that was capture in the films, except this time around you are in control.
One major way High Moon Studios accomplished the “motion picture” feel to Bourne is the camera style in the game. The camera in the game acts like a zoom lens that quickly focuses in the action, pulling in and out at the appropriate times. This doesn’t mean you won’t have control of the camera in the game, Bourne plays like any third person action game with total freedom to move around the camera. When you are battling it out in a long range gun fight the camera will instinctively pull back, but when you go in for the hand-in-hand combat the camera adjusts to how many enemies you are fighting at the time. This wild camera style does wonders to give the player a sense of importance while making the action feel more high impact. Bourne really pushes a new style a little further than we have seen in other games that have a similar style like Epic’s Gears of War.
In the films, Jason is portrayed by Matt Damon (Ocean’s Eleven, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Good Will Hunting); unfortunately Matt allow his likeness to be used in the game. On Damon’s defense, he might have seen the typical movie game in the past and thought this would be another trashable cash grab at his long running franchises, or that could be the way he rolls. All it shows to me is that you don’t need Matt Damon to be immersed in the Bourne franchise. With, or without Matt Damon’s face placed on the Jason’s doesn’t impact the game in one bit. The only way you would be disappointed if you are a die-hard Damon fan, or a stickler for particulars.
Besides missing Damon’s face, The Bourne Conspiracy comes into a little patch of trouble in the driving sequence. Parts of the Paris chase are great as you navigate through narrow alley ways while avoiding the police. The problem here isn’t in the concept; it comes in the form of controls. The controls feel way too loose and weightless for a driving game. The Mini Cooper feels like it is on ice, gliding through the streets of Paris. It’s a shame this aspect wasn’t tightened up as it comes right in the perfect spot in the middle of the game and makes an imprint as the only real let down in Bourne's near flawless feeling.
Another draw back to The Bourne Conspiracy is that it is over quickly. Just as the game really picks up its own distinctive stride, it ends. The Bourne Conspiracy can be completed in one night easily which makes it hard to justify for an all out purchase. As a rental, you really can’t find a more satisfying experience for one night. If you are the type of gamer who doesn’t mind playing through a game more than once Bourne gives you some initiative. The achievement points in the Xbox 360 version of the game can keep you busy as you try and rack up points for each difficulty mode, along with other ones that are attached to your aiming accuracy, ability to use the environment for takedowns and more. I usually don’t have the time to sit around and re-play a game, but Bourne was one of the rare games that I could give it another shot.
The only aspect left that I haven’t mentioned is the special feature, the Bourne heightened sense of awareness. What this means is that Bourne can slip into a mode that causes him to focus on the important aspects of a scene ranging from enemy awareness, to locating objectives. When using Bourne heightened sense enemies and objects will be highlighted with a glow while the screen darkens. This is great for finding weapons in a gunfight, or simply to re-focus on where the enemy is hiding. In hand-to-hand combat the heightened sense is used to perform takedowns fighting maneuvers which can be used in collision with the environments themselves, or objects in the environments. On the easy difficulty level there is no penalty for using this option, so go nuts if you are a trainee. If you more experienced, the Bourne sense will wear down your adrenaline bar which is used to govern this special ability, but rarely is it an inconvenience.
The Bourne Conspiracy is stylized and cinematic experience without the weight of sitting through long drawn out cut-scenes or overly dramatized storyline drags. Bourne pretty much sticks to the action, telling the story while you run and gun you way through each phase of the game. High Moon’s vision was clear, match the excitement of the film and then give them more. Surprisingly, the game pulls this off as you feel empowered as Bourne as you turn from the hunted into the hunter. The only major draw back to the Bourne Conspiracy is that it can be completed in one sitting. This pushes The Bourne Conspiracy towards the rental category, but it will definitely be worth it. Fans of the film and/ or novel, this is a purchase and one you have no doubt made by now, and if you haven’t, this is the closes thing you’ll get to being Bourne without signing up to an underground Black Op's operation yourself.
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 07.23.08