Giant Bomb Review

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Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy Review

3
  • PS3
  • X360

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy is a flashy action game that's sabotaged by a brief runtime and a lack of depth.

As much as I appreciated the way 2002’s The Bourne Identity restored some of the seriousness to international espionage that the James Bond franchise had been frittering away for so many years, anyone who called it a “thinking man’s action movie” was just covering for the fact that they loved watching Matt Damon outrun Parisian cops in a beat-up Mini Cooper and stick pens in dudes’ hands. Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Conspiracy doesn’t feature any of the actors from the film, instead replacing them with a cast of similarly stern-faced CG models and studio soundalikes, but it ably captures the feel of the first Bourne film, recreating a number of its memorable action set pieces. It can be a viscerally enjoyable experience, though it’s also a fleeting experience that, unlike the movie, offers little reason to come back to it.

The environments are right out of the movie.
The Bourne Conspiracy plays out like The Bourne Identity with extended flashback sequences. The game kicks off with government assassin Jason Bourne in Marseilles on his doomed mission to assassinate deposed African dictator Wombosi, which leads into the start of the film, with an amnesiac Bourne getting picked up by a fishing boat in the Mediterrenean. From there, the connections between the events of the film and the flashbacks turn into non-sequiturs–one moment Bourne is looking at a handgun, the next he’s reliving an old Zurich assignment. The Bourne Conspiracy does a bang-up job of recreating and expanding on some of the more memorable scenes from The Bourne Identity, but since the game basically wedges lengthy flashback missions in where there would normally be exposition or character development, the actual narrative kind of gets the short shrift.

What The Bourne Conspiracy lacks in coherent, compelling storytelling, though, it makes up for with the kind of calculated brutality that has been a defining characteristic of the Bourne movies. The gameplay generally alternates between a Gears-of-War-style third-person shooter and a simple one-on-one brawler, with loads of interactive cinematic sequences peppered throughout. Many of the best moments in The Bourne Conspiracy come courtesy of the adrenaline meter, which fills as you punch/shoot dudes in the face, and basically allows you to automatically take out an enemy while enjoying a quick brutal cinematic moment. These takedowns can look awesome, with Jason often improvising with objects in the environment or using an enemy’s own weapons against him, though they also start repeating pretty quickly. They also take much of the challenge out of the game–virtually any time there’s too much heat, you can just press B and watch Bourne execute his enemies with extreme prejudice, which is symptomatic of the game’s tendency to take control away from the player during its best moments.

Despite being short, the action is satisfying.
Despite being jam-packed with some pretty spectacular T-rated violence, The Bourne Conspiracy seems to end before it even really gets started, clocking in at a brisk three or four hours. That’s fairly short, to be sure, though I’m not sure that the gameplay could carry the game much further. The gunplay is competent, and the AI can be pretty sneaky at times, but it rarely feels very dangerous. The hand-to-hand combat has bigger problems, in that it consists of a meager number of simple three-hit combos, and a number of the fights drag on for way longer than they ought to.

The general lack of depth in The Bourne Conspiracy is made somewhat forgivable by its great-looking visuals, with snappy animations that really help sell a lot of the close-quarters action; nicely detailed environments that are filled with destructible bits; and lots of really sharp elemental effects like fire and rain. It has some problems, too, such as some gritty skin textures, and there’s a persistent problem of textures taking far too long to pop in.

The Bourne Conspiracy is a short game that can be clumsy and repetitive at times, but it does it with enough style that I didn’t feel like it was a complete waste of time. For what you get, though, it’s still tough to justify the $60 price tag.
21 Comments
Posted by RVonE

Very good review. It's a shame this game isn't all that great, though. I would really like a Born-game that is actually fun to play.

Posted by Mourne

Great review, Ryan. I've been thinking of renting this for a while, so I think I'll go ahead and do that this weekend.

Posted by JeremyTM

I loved the movies. The game was fun but not worth $60. Its a good rental. Good review.

Posted by Guerrilla_Mason

I agree with Jeremy. The game is a great rental, but even though I love the heck out of everything Bourne, from the books to the movies, I would never pay $60 for this. And great review Ryan.

Posted by darthincredible25

Maybe I'll give it a try, I kind of like quick action-pack games with not a lot of depth. It's like a summer action flick!

Posted by BlackWaterCO

I don't care much for quick time events

Posted by Nemesis

I was really looking forward to this game, since I'm a big fan of the movies (getting around to reading the books), to bad it is so short  but I will probably rent this game later on though. Also great review Ryan.

Posted by biggest_loser

Thanks for posting this buddy. Wow 3-4 hours? That is pretty damn short. Yeesh.

Hey check out some of my reviews if you have time please! Thank you!

-BL.

Posted by GioVANNI

I would've loved if this game were longer.  And I agree, the combat IS pretty satisfying.

Posted by JJ

Looking forward to renting this game.

Posted by GumbieuK

Got this on my rental list, looks quite good but reviews are mixed. I'll give it ago and see what i think.

Posted by NTM

This game was really great. About three hours in you will be done with the game though. You'll be saying to yourself when the credits hit, "Damn, that was as short as a brief SNES game." And the other thing that's not so appealing is the flashback cutscenes, 'cause it seemed really quite half-baked. Like, Bourne will meet a women and the next scene their making love, and then in the next scene they move so they can get away from all the action and so they can have a little place for themselves and then have to escape the house 'cause of a sniper. None of the characters you'll really get to know whatsoever. It'll all just be a brief action, but fun game. Just don't think you'll get story, nor length. But other than that? It's well made.

Posted by big

The demo was actually fun but its not a game i really wanna buy!

Posted by hopjef

 I rented it, took me much longer than Ryans 3 hours.  Decent game, very repetitive.  If you don't play games for a living (not intended as a slam) I think you'll get 6-8 hours of it. 

hopjef review - 3/5

Posted by L

I enjoyed the demo and just got it in the sale. Happy. :)

Posted by TheIneffableBob

Too bad I can't play this game on a Neo-Geo.

Posted by classic

I rented this game and I was kind of dissapointed cause of how short it was and I thought that the shooting was crap but I coudn't help but love the hand to hand combat in the game.

Posted by Kugutsumen

Not sure this deserved 3 stars, to be honest, I found the whole affair a bit stale. Combat is OK but the whole thing may as well be on rails, and the driving sections are almost as bad as Alone In The Dark. 


Still looking for that elusive good quality film tie-in game.
Posted by Paul

I'll pick this up when 360 games drop in price.

Posted by Eric_Buck
Born-game?

Bourne
Posted by NTM

This is merely a great game actually. I recommend playing it on its hardest difficulty, and playing it when you don't have any other game on mind. It can be quite a memorable experience. When I first beat this game a few years ago, I did like it surprisingly, but once I beat it, I was done with it. I went back to this game just a few weeks ago and beat it on its hardest difficulty, I was surprised at how much I forgot, but it was all truly great.

The sound and visuals hold up really well, and while the shooting is only adequate (or a little above) because of dumb-looking A.I. it was still fun and the hand-to-hand combat, though when you lose can be somewhat irritating, you'll always keep trying because you have the confidence that you may beat it the next time, and usually you'll make it through on the third to fifth try if not the first. There'll be a lot of the same attacks, but it's always cool to see. I say by now, this is definitely a buy since it's probably cheap.

I just wish there was a sequel to this game that kept what was great in this, but improved on what needed to be improved. It really doesn't need to be broken down and built back up from scratch. It's too bad, I don't believe a lot of people played this, and I hate to say it, but I do think it was somewhat underrated, although in a sense, when you do play it, you can kind of understand why some of the scores are lower. At times it feels like a mix of cash-in movie crap, while at the same time it doesn't. It's very awkward.

I just think if this were a little bit better where it needed to be, it would stand out among and along other games that had come out at the time and be recognized much more. If anyone for some odd reason reads this, I say go buy it!