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Review Rewind
Review Rewind: From Russia With Love (PSP)
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on January 26, 2018   |   Episode 4 (Show Archive)  

   
This is Review Rewind, the show where we revisit games I reviewed a long time ago. Today we're taking a look at From Russia With Love, Electronic Arts' curious adaptation of the 1963 James Bond movie of the same name. Is this game still as unfaithful to the film as I remember it being a decade ago? Find out now when you experience this brand new episode of Review Rewind!



You don't know this about me, but I recently picked up the James Bond Collection on blu-ray and have been going through the entire series in chronological order. That's one of the reasons why I wanted to revisit Electronic Arts' video game adaptation of From Russia With Love, a game I reviewed on the PSP all the way back in 2006. I remember being thrilled at the idea of going back to one of Bond's earliest outings, and then being thoroughly disappointed by the poor execution.

"When Electronic Arts first announced From Russia With Love, I was excited, it felt like my dreams were starting to come true. As a huge fan of the 007 film series I was overjoyed to have another chance to relive a Bond adventure, and the fact that Sean Connery, the greatest Bond of them all, would be reprising his role made it all the better. From Russia With Love is one of the best Bond outings, a story full of cool gadgets and intrigue. But despite having so much going for it, EA's video game port of the 1963 movie just couldn't recreate the magic."

Having just revisited From Russia With Love on blu-ray, I've been itching to replay this console game. Unfortunately, the only version I reviewed was the PSP port that excised all of the driving levels to create a more streamlined experience. This is just one of the many reasons why I gave the game a C- grade back in 2006.


One thing that surprised me was how loosely the game follows the movie. I suppose it had to, since From Russia With Love is not one of Bond's more action-packed adventures. It's actually a weirdly low-key story where a lot of it takes place on a train. There are really only a couple proper action scenes and not even one car chase, though I suppose brief boat escape at the end counts. As I point out in my review, "much of the game takes place away from the action of the movie, allowing you to see new locations and use alternate vehicles (such as the jet pack)."

I agree with my original take that the best moments come from the set pieces found in the movie, including the action-packed heist at the Russian consulate. "But more times than naught, you'll be playing something that has nothing to do with the film; something that just doesn't add much to the overall experience."

"The story and presentation are fine ... until you start playing the game. From Russia With Love's shortcomings are apparent right from the very start. For one thing, if you're the type of person that wants to run and gun then you're not going to get very far. Thanks to a ridiculously low bullet count, Bond has to line up each shot with precision. This means that every time you want to kill somebody you have to go into what the game calls Bond Focus."

Even when I mentally prepare for it, I can't get over how jarring it is to go back to a third-person shooter with only one analog stick. Obviously the funky controls weren't a problem with the console versions, but I have to imagine that they still suffered from a ridiculous lack of ammo. This is especially bad towards the end, when you're infiltrating a secret lair that wasn't in the movie. It's as if the game expects you to stealth your way through the levels, yet it doesn't give you any of the tools to sneak around without being spotted. You can't even snap to cover. I eventually got used to the awkward controls, but never warmed up to only having a couple dozen bullets to play around with. This is one of the stingiest action games I've ever seen.


Speaking of jarring, it's worth mentioning that Sean Connery's voice seems weirdly out of place in an adaptation of a movie he starred in. Like I said in my original review, "it's great to have Sean Connery back as Bond," but "it's been 43 years since From Russia With love hit the theaters and Connery's voice is not the same. The Bond in this game sounds old and haggard, not the young and full of energy Bond you remember."

The villain in the movie has this unusual quirk where he keeps calling James Bond an "old man." That was funny in 1963, when Sean Connery was a strapping 33 year old man. But Connery was 76 when this game came out, giving those jabs a whole new meaning. As I mentioned in my original review, it's great having him back. Even though it sounds weird, I prefer the real thing over somebody doing an impersonation. But it really does stick out, especially after having just watched the movie.

"From Russia With Love just doesn't have a lot going for it. The game's controls are fundamentally broken, the camera is terrible, the game is extremely short, the mini-games are a joke and nobody will be entertained by the multiplayer modes ... this just isn't a very good Bond game. About the only thing Electronic Arts gets right is 007's look, circa 1963. Everything else seems to come up short, one thing the real James Bond never had to worry about. This is nothing more than a lazy port of a mediocre console game."

Even with a C- grade, this review feels generous. This is Electronic Arts not even trying, which is extremely disappointing given the rest of their PSP output. This is the company that gave us two spectacular PSP Burnout games, and yet they couldn't be bothered to include the driving sections in From Russia With Love? If you absolutely must play this game, stick with the disappointing console versions. From Russia With Love is somehow even worse than I remembered it. Just watch the movie instead.
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