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June 18, 2008
Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
5/6/2008VivendiSierraHigh Moon Studios1None
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Taking out some enemies on a boat.
Over the years we have had a fair share of video games based on a wide range of movies, and why shouldn't we with so many action packed movies seemingly offering the perfect vehicle to create an action packed and exciting game. Sadly over the years these have had varying degrees of success. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and James Bond have seen a large number of impressive titles release for each franchise.

Then you get the tripe. The games that only harm the franchises quality. Iron Man was a recent mess, but you can go as far back as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial on the Atari 2600 in 1982 to realise this isn't a new fad. So where does Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy? Well, it's in the better half, that's for sure.

Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy tells the story of Jason Bourne and takes moments from the films (particularly The Bourne Identity) and books to create the game. The game brings a new storyline (with the assistance of screenwriter Tony Gilroy) to the franchise with the trained assassin and marked government agent trying to uncover the conspiracy shrouding his origins with a focus on the events leading up to the events of the first movie, played through a series of flashback sequences.

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Trucks and cars will explode with enough bullets.
Developed by High Moon Studios The Bourne Conspiracy is a third person action title with Jason Bourne able to use his fists as well as guns to take out the enemies. The hand-to-hand combat (although he occasionally uses his feet as well!) is quite intuitive. The X button allows you to block, square is a light attack while the triangle is a heavy attack. These can be strung together to form combo moves with opponents taking different amount of beatings depending on their skills. Bosses, for example, can take several minutes to defeat.

As you inflict damage on opponents an adrenaline meter fills up to three levels. If at least one segment is filled up it's possible to hit the circle button to perform a takedown move - brutal move that will take out most enemies except bosses. Should you be surrounded by enemies, and the meter have two or three segments full, you can then take out up to three enemies at once. Impressively Jason Bourne will also use objects within the levels to inflict these takedowns, smash a fire hydrant over the head of an opponent, throw him down the escalators, or throw him against a wall. It's all possible. These really give you, as the gamer, the sense that Jason Bourne is a deadly killer.

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The (short) driving section is a bit disappointing.
Gunplay also plays a major part throughout the game with Jason Bourne able to use pistols, shotguns, and machine guns to take out the enemies. The game includes a cover system as well Jason can remain safe from enemy fire. As with the hand-to-hand combat 'takedowns' can be used when Jason has a gun equipped. By pressing the circle button the 'takedown' mode will be entered, and should you hit the corresponding button in time you will perform a one-shot kill on enemies. While the targeting sight changes colour when the enemy is in the sights, and despite the auto-lock on, targeting enemies can be a little fiddly with the Dual Shock 3 controller. It's not terrible, but there were a couple of moments where hitting those far-away enemies was a little harder then it should have been.

The Bourne Conspiracy also uses Quick Time Events for parts of the game. Gamers should be familiar with these which see you pressing a button corresponding to the visuals on screen within a short period of time - perhaps a little too short at times! Many of these events take place during the games cut-scenes to add a little interactivity. Finally the game uses a 'Bourne Instinct' to assist you in your journeys. By pressing the triangle button Jason will enter a heightened sense of instincts so he can see enemies, objects or locations in his surroundings. Unfortunately this is one aspect of the game which we felt was slightly under-utilised. It gave away enemies positions, but also offered little other then a series of waypoints to head to.

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Using objects during a takedown.
What surprised me about this game was the mandatory 4681MB installation to the HDD prior to playing this game. Fortunately the install is pretty quick, but the game still contained considerable loading and, even more disappointingly, right in the middle of cut scenes the game pauses for a few seconds and flashes up "Loading" in the middle of a scene! This should have been fixed prior to release. The game also loads sections of levels as you play through them, although the load times are often only a few seconds, when entering a level though these times can be considerable, often well over 20 seconds.

So what other issues do we have with the game? Well I would have loved to see a few more tricks up Jason Bourne's sleeves. He can pick locks, but that's about it really. He doesn't have any grenades at his disposal, although he can shoot items like fire extinguishers to inflict harm on enemies. I also felt that the cars didn't handle too well in the game and they were pretty loose and hard to handle. Finally, despite the three difficulty levels, and the unlockable content the complete lack of multi-player really reduces the longevity and value of this title. It's unlikely that you would go back and replay this game as there won't be anything new to see.

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Notice the destructible boxes (aka cover)?.
Visually The Bourne Conspiracy is fairly impressive. As you may have noticed from these screenshots, or indeed read in the media previously, Matt Damon's likeness has not been used for this game. High Moon Studios stated that if they turn this into a franchise they don't want to be stuck using an actor who may have given up playing the role of Jason Bourne. Of course money wouldn't have played a part would it? To be honest though I can't say that we missed Matt Damon, but it would have been nice for fans of the movie. The character models on friends and foes are impressive and the game does hold up a very steady frame rate. Initially we thought the levels were a little barren, but when you realise many of the objects can be destroyed, or can be used during 'takedowns' with enemies it's more then acceptable.

Sadly there are a couple of graphical issues. The first is that the camera angles sometimes aren't what you would call the best, often when in one-on-one fights the camera takes almost a top-down perspective, but if close to a wall the characters then disappear. There are also some clipping and collision detection issues with body parts passing through walls and objects. They're there, but not too distracting. Certainly another aspect which I can't say we liked too much were the flashback pre-rendered video sequences. They are grainy, blocky, and not up to the standards set by the visuals in the rest of the game.

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Character models are quite nice actually.
Audio is a bit of an interesting beast in this game. Jason Bourne doesn't talk, and yet his lips move. The voice acting from other actors though is pretty solid, although the lip-synching could have been quite a bit better in places. The effects and music are also quite enjoyable as they change tempo with the action on screen. There is some use of the surround sound channels, but it's not over the top at any stage. It must be said though that, at times, there were slight audio dropouts that were noticeable and should have been rectified prior to release.

Despite the shortcomings and technical issues Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy is one of the best movie tie-in games we have seen in a long time. The storyline will be familiar, the gameplay is entertaining, and there is plenty of fun to be had. I would have liked to see the game given a bit more spit and polish before release, but fans of the movies and books will enjoy this game. Let's just hope that this is the start of a franchise as it could turn out to be a cracker with some refinement.

Review By: Dave Warner

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GRAPHICSThe world looks good, destructable objects, but some glitching and clipping issues.
SOUNDVoiceovers are fairly good, although poor lip synching, some good music and effects.
GAMEPLAYQuite an enjoyable title with a realistic difficulty curve.
VALUENo multi-player, and I'm not sure how often you'll replay the game.
OVERALLRobert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy is, without a doubt one of the best movie tie-ins we have played recently. A little more spit and polish wouldn't have gone astray but fans of the movies will enjoy this game.

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