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Thursday | December 8, 2016
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The Bourne Conspiracy (PS3)

The Bourne Conspiracy (PS3)

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Everyone wants to experience the life of a secret government agent, travelling to exotic locations and being the focal point for high octane missions all in the name of duty and justice. Now,  thanks to High Moon Studios and Sierra you can with Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Conspiracy. A great game or a sloppy movie tie in?, let’s find out.

If you have seen any of the Bourne movies you will already know the basic story and plot behind the Bourne Conspiracy, you take control of a 30 million dollar weapon who is suffering from a serious case of amnesia. In particular the Bourne Identity movie contains the majority of game plot. You start off floating in the Mediterranean Sea shortly after the mission to assassinate Wombosi, an African dictator and warlord. To be fair the game doesn’t entirely replay the movie as there are random action sequences thrown in for good measure.  The basic game plot starts with detailing the back story of Bourne before the assassination and progresses through to the end of the movie. Mechanics include the tried and tested system of flashbacks which detail the effectiveness of Bourne as he progressed through his career with the agency.

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A large portion of the game revolves around a rather involved combat system. As Jason Bourne is a proficient and sophisticated killer the combat mechanic attempts to portray his power, speed and devastating proficiency within a fight. He has fast and heavy attacks with the square and triangle buttons and by tapping any of the buttons you unleash a punch, holding the buttons down causes him to kick. You are able to combine these attacks into one of 8 possible combos which cause massive damage to your opponents. Each successful attack increases Jason’s adrenaline bar and when you fill a section of this bar you are able to perform a ‘takedown’ attack. These takedown attacks either cause Jason to break an arm or a leg and he can even quickly counter a weapon attack and turn it around on the foe for a cool looking death move. This adrenaline bar has various levels, so the more you fill it, the more devastating the take down move, on a full bar 3 foes can be destroyed with a single attack.

These takedown movies are very dramatic and flow just like you would see in a high budget movie. For example if you happen to perform a takedown move near an object, such as a table or cupboard, then Jason will find an exciting way to involve these environmental objects in the elimination of the enemies. These attacks look brilliant and certainly enhance the feeling that you are, in fact controlling a devastating killer. Later in the game these key attacks become almost a necessity as the odds become increasingly difficult, especially the horrific Treadstone enhanced assassins sent to kill you. It is in fact this environmental attack ability that breaks the game from the norm, and you will find yourself constantly on the lookout for objects to keep close in case things start to get rough.

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The fight sequences are particularly well designed and they do not end up a tiresome exercise after a while like so many other combat games I have played recently. Button mashing is not a requirement to complete this game which is a welcome addition. Your enemies have decent enough AI so they can parry, block and counterattack if you become lazy and hit the same button over and over. I admired the counterattacking coding algorithm, they watch your moves and attempt to hit you while you are toggling between stances and attacks, an aspect sadly lacking from many games.

Not only that, but specific enemies have their own takedown moves and they use them when you are at your most vulnerable. Thankfully you can counter these takedowns if you are fast enough however if you make a mistake you quickly learn that these attacks are almost as deadly as your own. This means that instead of blindly charging into a fight, you become very observant to the surroundings and the stances of the people you are fighting. People playing this game in the style of a button masher will be reloading on a regular basis. Those of you reading this who like a game with combat that rewards skill will find this system extremely appealing.

The game also has a certain amount of interactive cutscenes, you have to press the correct button within a certain amount of time. This is something that doesn’t appeal to me as it has been done to death before in the past.  Positively these don’t happen on a regular basis and are obviously intended to further highlight Jason’s incredible reactions, however I wish they had either been omitted or a more creative system was implemented from the early development phase.

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So far I have discussed the hand to hand elements of the combat system, which are excellent, however the shooting side of things is less than impressive. No longer is Jason able to take out an enemy operative with a well aimed head shot from 400 yards, he now has a problem hitting anything without wasting 200% of his ammo, even the proverbial barn door. The targeting system is appalling – it changes colour when you have someone highlighted, but that is all the help you get and considering the weapons  in this game are as accurate as a demented gorilla firing an uzi then it quickly becomes irritating.

The gunfire system also relies on the Bourne Instinct mechanic which ties into the adrenaline meter and while activated it improves the accuracy, but not considerably! So not only do you waste it but you still end up missing many of the enemies anyway. I get the feeling that this part of the combat was tacked on later.

While I am on the subject of unfinished aspects of the game, the driving sections firmly fall into this category also. Never before have I felt that a simple Mini would handle in the same manner as a mutant go-kart/Sherman tank combination. Yes, it is pathetic  because not only is the handling rubbish but you can, quite miraculously drive through buildings, other cars or in fact anything in the way. You won’t even damage the paintwork. Jason Bourne needs to find out the material they used to build this car and get some body armour created. I am guessing its futuristic alien technology that the Predator accidentally dropped.

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Graphically, the game looks very impressive, the models and environments are very detailed and carefully rendered right across the board. The fight sequences look brilliant and almost as if you were watching some of the movies. There are physics and debris effects thrown in for good measure and the environmental objects are frequently smashable. Gun fire also damages the surroundings, such as wooden boxes or crates. The Playstation 3 doesn’t have any problems with frame rate either so overall it is a polished game. That said, there are some rather disappointing issues.

Collision detection isn’t always spot on and can give the impression of some unrealistic action which ruins the illusion of a fully interactive gaming environment. When people’s heads appear through walls and when dead bodies partially disappear into the ground it just looks sloppy and careless on a coding level. On one occasion I punched a guy and he went through a chair and table as if he suddenly joined the cast of HEROES. The camera system is also flawed and frequently you get disoriented and people vanish off screen, even in the heat of combat. These flaws don’t ruin the game, however they are unfortunately aspects that ruin the overall polish and tend to make me feel as if time was running out before the game was due for release.

The audio side of the game is much more cohesive and rounded and the voice acting is professional and won’t distract from the game play. The music is equally impressive as they are extremely indicative of the movie scores. Ambient and weapon sounds are also more than adequate.

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The Playstation 3 requires a 15-20 minute 4.5 gig installation and when compared to the 360 title they are almost identical when it comes to loading times. I am all for big installs if they speed things up, but if they don’t then at least give us the option to turn it off. When you are playing the game there will be often instances of “loading” appearing which ruin the flow of the game. I would rather have 5gb of my hard drive back guys.

Replayability is poor with only three difficulty levels being offered and all of the unlockable content is easy gained by collecting passports scattered throughout the levels. These let you get cinematics and concept art as well as letting you replay the boss battles on the fly. Game value is also limited as I completed it really easily within 9-10 hours and have no desire to replay.

As an overall product, Bourne Conspiracy is a decent attempt to get you into the shoes of a lethal, government backed killer. Well unless you want a good shooting game, then it all falls apart. Jason’s ability to use environmental objects is accurately and faithfully depicted and the combat side of the game is a fun and entertaining slog. Unfortunately there are too many niggling issues, such as the shoddy driving and unnecessary huge installation requirements to fully recommend, but it would certainly be worth a weekend rental.

Gameplay
78/100
A bit of a missed opportunity with some glaring and easily avoidable issues lowering the overall experience.
Graphics
75/100
Again, the potential was high with some nicely rendered models and backdrops however the issues with collision detection and animation ruin the overall score.
Audio
80/100
Very polished and one of the fully completed aspects of the game.
Value
60/100
10 hours later and there is nothing really left to do, rather expensive.
Overall
(Not an Average)
75/100
Entertaining and fast paced, just too many issues to fully recommend.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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