As well as being forever on Her Majesty's secret service, a certain veteran MI6 agent has spent the last three decades carving out a lucrative second career, essentially freelancing on consoles and home computers. It says something about the durability and ubiquity of Bond, the great British brand, that very few of these 007 games seem to come out at the same time as one of the actual movies. Tee Hee, the towering, metal-clawed henchman from Live And Let Die, could count the number of official film tie-ins that have hit the correct release window on his one good hand.
EA's said that it chose From Russia With Love for its next Bond film adaptation partly because it was Sean Connery's favourite film, and partly because it had all the elements that the devs wanted. Talking to us a while ago, producer Kate Latchford highlighted "the locations, the women, the fun scenes, the enemies". Those things probably were part of the thinking, and indeed the game adopts a similar light-hearted approach to the film, has women, has the locations, has the enemies - but I suspect the choice also had plenty to do with the film's suitability for third-person gunnery, stealth and driving around. The things that worked in EA's last not-awful Bond game, Everything or Nothing. What with the gypsy camp shootout, Constantine's canal, the road trip to Station T., the sniping, the assassination attempts - From Russia With Love obviously maps rather better to the EoN template than, say, Dr. No.
And of course where the film doesn't quite fit, EA can apply the usual film-to-game concertina effect. Instead of simply being tailed by the Russians, it can be a constant machinegun fight against goon-cars, which can be flipped with the Aston Martin's tyre-buster out of Goldfinger, culminating in a quick out-of-the-car bit to reach a gun emplacement to blow up a tank blocking the way. Instead of a simple gun- and fist-fight at the gypsy camp, there can be hostages to rescue, and a section where you have to protect Kerim Bey using a sniper rifle. Instead of propping up Kerim's arm when he wants to top Krilencu, it can be a whole sniper-protect mission and in the end you can pull the trigger and dispatch the oily Russian as he stands there in that billboard's gob threatening to put one in Kerim's temple.
And hey, since the Red Grant hedge maze intro doesn't really work as a tutorial, why not have a separate prologue mission where you have to rescue Natasha Bedingfield from terrorists at the Houses of Parliament, ending up dodging rockets as you zoom round Big Ben in a jetpack firing at a helicopter? Then do the hedge maze to introduce the stealth! It's Bond - who's going to quibble?
Natasha Bedingfield is "delirious". Today's been a busy day, apparently, full of radio interviews with ITN and the BBC regarding her cameo appearance in the latest chapter in EA's grinding, yearly grip on the James Bond license, the interactive adaptation of From Russia With Love. Eurogamer meets her in a lower-floor room of a London hotel where she's lying on a leather sofa barking her lines from the game in falsetto posh.
EA continues its widespread backing of the PlayStation Portable with news that it'll release From Russia With Love on the Sony handheld in early 2006.
You're Electronic Arts. You're making a James Bond game. You're about to kit out the player with new gadgets from Q Branch. In Bond films, of course, Q Branch was designed to provide comic relief while adding new toys to Bond's play-set, because Bond is meant to be exciting and funny at the same time. He's suave and sophisticated, but also defiantly impish. But this isn't a Bond film. It's a game. You know it's a game. The player knows it's a game. So how do you do it?
EA's last James Bond game, Everything Or Nothing (you'll notice we're pointedly ignoring Rogue Agent), was an original story based on contemporary Bond. However, what was most interesting about it wasn't so much the new story, but the way that it built particular gaming scenarios - third-person action, stealth, on-rails shooting, driving, and even sky-diving - around an original narrative. It was what we often expect from a film licence, but without a direct licensee.
Electronic Arts has hired a number of celebrities to star in its forthcoming James Bond sequel, From Russia With Love, with actor Sean Connery taking centre stage, now flanked by singer Natasha Bedingfield and actress Maria Menousnos.
UK pop artist, Natasha Bedingfield, has been signed up to feature in Electronic Arts' From Russia With Love, reports Billboard.com.
If there's one thing about EA, it's persistent. Doggedly so.