Getting the boot in, Jason Bourne-style

Inspired by Kirsten Kearney’s review of the Bourne Conspiracy demo on p.104 of 360Gamer mag (plug-plug), I had to check out the potential of this movie-to-game spy adventure. I loved all three of the Bourne films and although I have Robert Ludlum’s book ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’, I have still to find time to read it. There is also that train of thought that says a book is always better than the film because it can explore so many more emotions, thoughts, feelings, and circumstances that the big-screen can only scrape the surface of in it’s presentation of the same story. However once you’ve seen the film first, would you really want to read the book once you ‘know’ the characters? Wouldn’t the book’s portrayal be somewhat different, and possibly more detailed, twisting (possibly countering) what you thought you knew? So the transition from book to film, and now to video game has me intrigued… How will ‘High Moon Studios’ pull this off and stay in keeping with the Bourne we expect to see?

One thing that really grabbed my attention from the trilogy was the hand-to-hand combat, and hearing about the game made me wonder how they intended to recreate such a significant feature in all three movies. Having been training and teaching in mixed martial arts for nearly 23 years, and now involved in Israeli Krav Maga, I like to see good attention to detail in choreographing fight scenes, especially when the film is set in modern times. What I like to see is real, gritty, desperation and technically correct application of a fighting style – so my hat goes off to the Philipino stunt team co-ordinating the screen action of the movies in the Kali fighting system, which is much like Krav Maga.

So how accurate is this in the transition to a video game? Well firstly, bare in mind that recreating a movie anything like Bourne would be a massive undertaking. There’s so many plots and sub plots associated with the killer-amnesiac that it’s going to be tough doing the character justice. Well High Moon have done a damned fine job designing the myriad of striking combinations and take-down finishes that Bourne can do in the game. Even the enemy AI fight with gusto and I often felt a little overwhelmed in the demo by their sheer speed and power. But it does leave you feeling the adrenaline rush with your heart trying to escape your chest cavity. Thankfully the enemy don’t all rush you at once, which given the awkward turn rate of the 3rd person view is just as well, as you seem to auto-aim and turn to face the person/target highlighted by the game instead of having full free-movement like in Splinter Cell.

However, despite the really impressive and accurate fighting techniques at your disposal, the combat control is reduced to three buttons – basic strike (punches/elbows), stronger strike (punches/kicks), and a Bournesque special take-down that sees you slamming heads off tables, walls, floors, etc, all after the summary elbow strikes and volley of punches which appears as a set animation. For me, this makes me feel like they’re depriving the player of much anticipated happy-slapping action. You want to pull off brutal combinations and get satisfaction from seeing your handy work, but you’re left a little disappointed. Although excellent fun, the fighting seems limited to the same repetitive hits of the X and Y buttons, and there’s no clear indication when you are able to effectively pull off a Bourne take-down with the B button. It just ‘happens’, and I’m convinced this is purely down to hidden game timing that unlocks the ability in the fight scene, as no matter how many times I button-smashed everything seemed randomised like a dice throw of a special ‘Six’. But it’s soooo entertaining though, and no matter what the combat throws at you, you can be assured of a very compelling story, instantly recognising influences from the films that suck you right into the action. There’s absolutely no question of whether I’m getting this game – I’ll be fighting my way to the front of the queue on release day…







4 responses to “Getting the boot in, Jason Bourne-style”

  1. Michael avatar

    As far as I know the combat system was designed by Jeff Imada, who worked on the films

    Krav Maga sounds pretty brutal…

    This whole simplification of combat seems to be taken from Assassin’s Creed. Now I’m not the best when it comes to using combos what with me being a button-mashing fiend and all but… I’d like to know that some skill is involved occasionally!

    Speaking of influences from the films, I watched the final part of the trilogy last night and it seemed there were a lot of scenes that mirrored some from the previous two movies

  2. Tony avatar

    Does the game have any driving in it? I always liked the car chases in the Bourne films…

  3. Martin avatar

    I liked the demo, it really did feel like you were part of a cinematic experience, which is hard to achieve in games. The simplified fighting is a great idea, if you’re having to remember complex moves the immediacy of the game would be lost.
    Tony, there is driving involved, but it blows quite bad, the major low point in the game?

  4. Chris avatar

    Hi guys, thanks for your comments. I won’t know if there’s driving involved until the new game comes out, but the demo is worth downloading.

    Yes that’s right Michael, Jeff Imada is a top fight choreographer. Trained under Bruce Lee I believe in JKD. KM is the official close combat system of the Israeli Defence Force, and is pretty brutal 😉 I think you’re right about the 3rd film drawing from the first two – like the sleeper assasins for example.

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