Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy
In what is probably the biggest missed opportunity of the year, High Moon Studios has managed to hand in a game that spectacularly mishandles one of the best action franchises of recent times. Were it not for the name, elements of the presentation and excerpts from the movie soundtrack, there'd be scant evidence that this was actually a Bourne game at all.
The game-makers have essentially re-tooled Bourne into a generic videogame action character to the point that he bears little resemblance (literally) to the character on which he is based. The game is essentially a Rainbow Six-style cover-and-shoot exercise but without the tactical elements, completely missing the point that the movie Bourne rarely uses firearms (indeed often tossing them away), preferring stealth, the use of public spaces and the element of surprise.
The Bourne Conspiracy shows little evidence of his ingenious strategies either, short of the videogames staple of exploding barrels and shootable fire extinguishers. Even the critically acclaimed combat system only gets it half-right. The look is right, the action very cool, the moves are 100 percent Bourne, the contextual stuff is brilliant, but the whole point of the techniques employed is that the basic goon is down in mere seconds, not the extended fisticuffs on display here.
Unreal Engine 3 runs the show, but on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 you rarely get the impression that Epic's technology is being pushed that much. It's almost as though there are two different UE3s - the ones that power BioShock, Unreal Tournament 3 and Gears of War, and another lesser version that gives life to Rainbow Six Vegas 2, Turning Point and now The Bourne Conspiracy. In general, characters (Bourne aside, clearly an Auton replica of Eurogamer's Kristan Reed) look detailed and well-animated, while the backgrounds are something of a disappointment, varying dramatically in terms of detail, lighting and imagination. Xbox 360 gets the usual anti-aliasing, which remains curiously absent from the PS3 game.
The one thing that the 'lower tier' UE3 games tend to have in common is that they are at least like-for-like cross-platform, and so it is with The Bourne Conspiracy, which is to all intents and purposes the same game regardless of the console you play it on, just with slightly different lighting effects - par for the course with UE3. Frame-rate is the standard 30fps, while the PS3 version can drop more during intense action, and suffers from a greater degree of screen-tear. Noticeable, but in both cases not especially important during gameplay. PS3 owners should also be prepared for yet another mammoth installation: 4.6GB this time around, with a 13-minute wait before the game begins in return for only a few seconds' saving with each level loaded.
All of which pales into insignificance when you actually play the game and realise that it's essentially a formulaic shooter that - fighting elements aside - has little to do with the core character.
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