LICENSE TO THRILL?: Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Conspiracy (2008)

He doesn’t look much like Matt Damon. Thomas battles amnesia and assassins in this Bourne spin-off. 

Who made it?: High Moon Studios (Developer), Sierra Entertainment (Publisher).

Genre: Action/Stealth/Driving.

Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360.

Format: Blu-ray disc, DVD-ROM.

Released: June 27, 2008 (UK).

In the realm of movie-to-videogame adaptations, quality is almost as unpredictable as adaptations made from videogames to film. In the case of The Bourne Conspiracy, High Moon Studios’ prequel to/recreation of The Bourne Identity (2002), a film-based game adaptation has rarely been presented with this much quality or concern for its source material. Take your pick from Street Fighter: The Movie to titles that go as far back as the Atari’s E.T. – quality has usually been sub-par at best for this gaming sub-genre. But The Bourne Conspiracy aimed to change all that with a swift chop to the throat and a quick kick to the kneecap. Except this has less to do with Robert Ludlum’s source novels, as the full title implies, and everything to do with Matt Damon’s fist cinematic adventure. Although, those hoping for a Damon-inspired character model will be disappointed.

First and foremost, Conspiracy is less of an actual game and more of an interactive feature film in videogame form. Presented many times throughout are Quick Time Events that challenge the player to press one of the four coloured buttons or two triggers on the controller when prompted. When a button is pressed, Conspiracy will go into something of a cinematic, showing Bourne evading bullets, sniping, ducking out of the way of explosions, or taking down numerous opponents. All fights and most cinematics are presented in an interactive manner fully allowing the player to be Bourne instead of simply playing as him. It should also be noted that when these Quick Time Events are nearing their utilisation, a distinct sound will occur, thereby preparing the player for them. Sound effects in these sections, and elsewhere, are simply fantastic.

The bulk of The Bourne Conspiracy will either be played through hand-to-hand combat or third-person shooting segments. The hand-to-hand combat is handled quite effectively with X and Y being your main attack buttons. With these, you can string together combos and, when your Attack Meter is at least 1/3 full, Bourne can perform a take-down on an enemy by pressing B; similar to what he does in the films. The shooter portions of the game, although plentiful, aren’t as satisfying as Conspiracy‘s hand-to-hand counterpart. Sure, there are quite a few guns to use and Shooting Take-downs (similar to typical take-downs, and also performed the same way but require a gun) are unsurprisingly fulfilling when used, but the clunky hit detection, as well as enemies that can require up to six/seven bullets to go down, spoils some of the fun of this otherwise decent segment.

Just as important is a sequence taken from the The Bourne Identity. The game’s singular car chase sequence (you know, the one with the Mini-Cooper) is mildly fun, but due to poor vehicle controls, handling and bland level design it feels rather unaccomplished. The level’s conclusion has a nice Quick Time sequence that is incredible to watch, but the actual gameplay leaves much to be desired.

As pleasing as Conspiracy‘s gameplay is, graphically, it isn’t the prettiest game around. Although powered by Unreal Engine 3, textures are muddy, washed-out and lack polish. There is some minor clipping present that ruins some otherwise pleasant art direction, but overall the game lacks most in the aforementioned low-res textures. Lighting is spectacular, though, and hides many of the texturing problems, but in dark spots the game looks downright ugly at times. For a last-gen title, this could have easily passed for a late-life PS2 game.

But don’t let dated graphics get you down, as The Bourne Conspiracy is very much a worthwhile experience. Although running very short at only five-to-eight hours, it’s still a worthy purchase in the pre-owned bargains. Even though hardcore Bourne fans will eat up every second of it, and non-fans will love the action, they will undoubtedly be lost story-wise. Nevertheless, this is a fine accomplishment considering the previous disasters this sub-genre has faced.

Useless Trivia

(Via IMDb)
  • The game features original star Franka Potente as Marie and William Sadler as Alexander Conklin.
  • Paul Oakenfold handled the game’s score.

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