007: Top Agent
Bond's latest will leave you shaken, stirred and sleepy.
Seeing the words "James Bond" and "video game" instantly conjure up memories of fragging buddies in GoldenEye. That said, we're far removed from the glory days of Nintendo 64, and multiple companies have struggled with the franchise ever since. Now we can add Sony Pictures Television to the list, with the company's bizarre iPhone App, 007: Top Agent.
At first, we assumed (quite wrongly) that this was some sort of side scrolling action game, complete with on-screen d-pad and face buttons. You can therefore imagine how we felt after discovering that Top Agent is a turn-based fighter, where you queue up maneuvers and then watch them unfold. It sort of reminds us of Street Fighter II, except instead of running up to Blanka and punching his face, you instruct Ryu to perform said punch and hope for the best.
This puzzling design choice makes Top Agent a wolf in sheep's clothing. It looks exactly like a side scrolling shooter, complete with life bars for Bond and the thugs he comes across, but you only fight one bad guy at a time, and the odds seem stacked against you. It makes no sense, for example, why a gunshot would do ten percent damage to a lowly henchman, when a knife attack from that same evildoer chews up half of Bond's life bar. This matter grows more troublesome when you consider 007's lack of health kits; you don't receive them early on. That renders comebacks impossible.
Sony divided the game into single and multiplayer modes, both of which play exactly the same, aside from exchanging computer-controlled bozos for actual human beings. Bond's on the left, his enemy on the right and there's a series of commands along the bottom of the screen. Pressing the weapon icon, for instance, brings up Bond's available gun attacks, while the melee icon contains different punches. Winning a match earns some cash, used to buy weapons and other useful items, and you can spend skill points to upgrade Bond's Brawling, Shooting, Gadgetry, Dexterity and Armor.
We suppose that on paper, this seemed like a good idea to someone, but in practice, it's a boring mess. The game cancels our moves for no logical reason, enemies sport little variation (same guy, but now he's wearing a hat) and Sony failed to license actual James Bond music, opting for some remixed nonsense. On top of that, the game moves about as fast as a 90 year old turtle, which seems like a direct insult to the Bond character, a guy that made a career out of running headfirst into danger.
There are some neat gadgets, including a boom box rocket launcher and exploding toothpaste, but none of these things make the game enjoyable. 007: Top Agent is a boring and slow-paced strategy game that further soils the Bond video game legacy. Don't purchase it, not even for ninety-nine cents.
What's Hot: Online leaderboards, friends list, you can create up to 20 different agents, exploding toothpaste fights more than cavities, only costs ninety-nine cents.
What's Not: Lame turn-based combat, unofficial Bond music, little enemy variation, illogical and borderline unfair gameplay.