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Xbox 360 Review: The Bourne Conspiracy

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In the realm of movie-to-video game adaptations, their quality is almost as unpredictable as adaptations made from video games to film.

In the case of The Bourne Conspiracy, High Moon Studios’ prequel to/recreation of The Bourne Identity, a film-based video game adaptation has never been presented with this much quality or concern for its source material. Take your pick, from Street Fighter: The Movie to titles that go as far back as the Atari’s E.T., quality has usually been subpar at best for this gaming subgenre. But The Bourne Conspiracy aims to change all of that with a swift chop to the throat and a quick kick to the kneecap.

First and foremost, Conspiracy is less of an actual game and more of an interactive feature film in video game form. Presented many times throughout the game are Quick Time Events that challenge the player to press one of the given colored buttons or the two triggers on the controller when prompted on the screen to do so. When a button is pressed, Conspiracy will go into something of a cinematic, showing Bourne evading bullets, sniping, ducking out of the way of explosions, or taking down numerous opponents. All fights and most cinematics are presented in an interactive manner fully allowing the player to “be” Bourne instead of simply playing as him. It should also be noted that when these Quick Time Events are nearing their utilization, a distinct sound will occur, thereby preparing the player for them. Sound effects in these sections, and elsewhere, are simply fantastic.

The bulk of The Bourne Conspiracy will either be played through hand-to-hand combat or third-person shooting segments. The hand-to-hand combat is handled quite effectively with X and Y being your main attack buttons. With these buttons, you can string together combos and, when your Attack Meter is at least 1/3 full, Bourne can perform a takedown on an enemy by pressing B; signature to what he does in his films. The shooter portions of the game, although plentiful, aren’t as satisfying as Conspiracy’s hand-to-hand counterpart. Sure, there are quite a few guns to use and Shooting Takedowns (similar to typical takedowns, and also performed the same way, but require a gun) are unsurprisingly fulfilling when used, but the clunky hit detection, as well as enemies that can require up to six/seven bullets to go down, spoils some of the fun.

Just as important is a sequence taken from the The Bourne Identity, the singular car chase sequence is mildly fun, but due to poor vehicle controls, handling, and bland level design feels rather unaccomplished. The level’s conclusion has a nice Quick Time sequence that is incredible to watch, but the actual game play leaves much to be desired.

As pleasing as Conspiracy’s game play is, graphically, it isn’t the prettiest game around. Although powered by Unreal Engine 3, textures are muddy, washed out, and lack polish. There is some minor clipping present that ruins some otherwise pleasant art direction, but overall the game lacks most in the aforementioned low-res textures. Lighting is spectacular though and said lighting hides many of the texturing problems, but in dark spots, the game looks downright ugly at times. For a next-gen title, this could have easily passed for a late-life PS2 game.

But don’t let dated graphics get you down. The Bourne Conspiracy is very much so a unique, worthwhile experience. Although running very short at only 5-8 hours, it’s still worth the cash. Bourne fans will eat up every second of it, non-fans will love the nonstop action, but will probably be lost story-wise.

The Bourne Consipracy is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Mild Language, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence. This game can also be found on: PS3.

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About Thomas Steenhagen