I’m late to the Bourne party; I shied away from the books and from the movies. I can’t quite remember the reason, but about three weeks prior to getting my review copy of the game this Saturday I sat down and watched all three Bourne movies, one per day, until I’d kind of caught up. I figured that it might better help me get a tag on the game, so I also read one of the Bourne books and yeah, those are different compared to the movies just as the game is different compared to the movie: the Bourne Identity.
The Bourne Conspiracy fills in some of the film gaps and gives you a chance to become Jason Bourne, the malfunctioning 30 million dollar human weapon. An assassin for a mysterious agency deep inside the US government nicknamed: Treadstone. If you’re familiar with the movie then you’ll know that Bourne wakes up on a fishing boat with no idea of what he’s done and what he’s capable of. He can speak several languages fluently and he hasn’t got a clue of who he might be. He just has a Swiss bank account number embedded in a laser device in his leg.
The game takes a turn from that and gives you the events that lead up to Bourne’s eventual discovery and allows you to find out what Jason did, before he ended up in the drink and on the run from everyone, everywhere.
There are three distinct gameplay types prevalent in Bourne. Third person shooting, hand to hand and a single, fairly long, driving section set around the events of the infamous Mini car chase in Paris. The third person section of the game is the most prevalent and runs through the majority of the story, but it’s not all about shooting, at times (just like Bourne) you’ll be running away from a superior force and only using hand to hand as a last resort when you’re trapped and running out of options.
In the ‘escape’ sections, you’ll be against a timer and the pressure really mounts as you use Bourne’s ‘instinct’ to navigate the corridors of the infamous Embassy escape and so on. When shooting, Bourne has access to the expected tricks of a third person shooter, there’s a little bit of stealth if you’re clever enough, you can do takedowns and you can use headshots with a silenced pistol to eliminate enemies in earlier sections of the game.
The Bourne Instinct gives you a highlighted view of enemies, environmental hazards and allows you to lock onto targets that you normally might not perceive. Using these special tricks allows you to eliminate enemies quickly, efficiently and most importantly with style. Bourne can swap out his own weapons for enemy ones, if there’s no ammo crate around and if push comes to shove, the game switches you into the brutal hand to hand combat system if you get close to an enemy with a gun.
As you’re shooting and battling, you’ll build up an adrenaline meter on the right hand side of your HUD. You can store up to three bars of this and it can be used in a variety of ways, from sprinting takedowns to full on three way takedowns, where you’re given a quick series of buttons to press to eliminate your foes in quick and violent succession. These quick-time events pop up now and then and you’ll be notified by the game, as a sound plays just before the first button appears. Be ready to press the corresponding one to avoid some in-game element and once again, these are integrated seamlessly and never seem out of place.