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Welcome to the first episode of the series of articles regarding a certain Bond trilogy. Three original Bond stories that were released subsequently... just not as movies or books but in a certain other medium for fiction called the video games ;). First of all let's take a look at how and why it all came about.
Brosnan's Bond Era — Trying to Be Everything at the Same Time
Brosnan's Bond era. Lasting form 1994 to 2005, in general, is referred to as somewhat of a mixed bag by most. It clearly had more potential than it could realize. And even though my nostalgic attachment towards all of these four movies that came out in that era (yes, including Die Another Day) make them easily some of my favourite movies to watch, I have to admit that they do create their fair share of mixed emotions.
Why is that? Brosnan's era was an interesting time for Bond's identity. On the one hand there was this desire to go in a more realistic, complex and serious direction - to really explore the character behind the icon and so on. That desire was owing to a trend set by new competitors for Bond (the most prominent of which being the Bourne series) and shift in what people wanted from movies in general.
So, although they did go along with that trend here and there, there was still a certain reluctance to go for it like the brilliant Casino Royale eventually did with Daniel Craig. It was mainly because (and understandably so) there was also a desire to latch onto classic Bond formula and all of it's elements. If not for anything else, then at least for the series to keep it's identity on the surface.
Basically, there was still a clear desire to capture the feel of fun and charm of the older classic's without fully acknowleging that maybe it just doesn't gel in a contemporary context. It is all the more understandable considering that, the criminally underrated "License to Kill" did poorly at the box office with it's more serious take on the character and one can't deny that a lot of Bond's screen appeal has come from the more outlandish, funnier and lighter elements.
In a State of Limbo
That left the Bond series, at the time, in an interesting sort of limbo, where it tried to be everything at the same time. It wanted to be a more serious and self aware, but at the same time funny and light. It wanted to keep the focus on practical stunts, but couldn't resist to use the help of ever improving cgi. It wanted more realism, but couldn't let go of all the inventive and cool gadgets. Same goes for Brosnan's portrayal of the character. It had elements of the charisma of Connery, wit and humor of Moore, introspectivness and realistic girttiness of Dalton and then of course some new elements that Brosnan himself brought to the table.
In fact, being in that sort of limbo actually might have not been that bad thing since I would argue that Brosnan's portrayal of the character and his movies in general (Ok, eventually they got a bit too silly) are the best compromise of all that is Bond and (at least at the beginning with Goldeneye) it saved the franchise from extinction in a new era of movies and political landscape.
But one should also keep in mind, that the best compromise doesn't necessarily mean the best in general. Not having this clear direction to go towards meant that neither the movies (except Goldeneye) or Brosnan himself never really reached their respective full potentials of what was probably possible to do with the franchise and the character. Don't get me wrong, they still got a lot right and had many inspired ideas along the way, but there is always this feeling that more could have been done and Brosnan clearly had more of dramatic potential that was left unused.
State of Limbo for Movies = State of Clarity for Video Games
Interestingly enough, this aformentioned limbo, where Bond movies were at the time, created a perfect ground for Bond video games. Granted, it also had a lot to do with where the action movies of late 90s and early 00s were in general - this mixture of a more serious approach and just pure unashamed fun along with a flood of new things one could do in the movies from techincal point of view.
Video Games as a Storytelling Medium
Video games, by now, have come a long way. But even though their potential as a storytelling medium has been exploited in more and more ambitious and inventive ways, there still seems to be this tone out there that video games are sort of inferior form of entertainment to movies, TV and of course books. I personally think that they are just a different way to let a person experince a story with a different focus. That different focus fitted in perfectly with where the Bond movies of Brosnan's era were.
The Birth of a Trilogy
What opened the floodgates, so to say, was the classic Goldeneye game - changing the gaming landscape. Subsequently, Electronic Arts (EA) took over the Bond's video game license. After a few so and so releases of the games based on the movies, as sort of a natural progression of things, an original Bond story for a video game was created (Agent Under Fire). This was to be the first part of a loosely connected (hey, how many Bond movies in general have much of a connection) but still a trilogy of original Bond stories told in the video game format released between 2001 and 2004.
Revisiting the Trilogy
007: Agent Under Fire, NightFire, Everything or Nothing - As said before, I don't see video games as inferior medium to tell a story, but a different one with different options. Therefore, I see them as three original Bond stories that are told in a different medium.
And that is how I am going to take a look at them in this series of articles - mainly as stories (although of course I aknowlege gameplay and other technicalities as well, since it is a part of the story on many levels). Therefore, the focus will be on an original Bond story told in a video game format, on how it works and what kind of experience these games provide. To make it simple - this series of articles will essentially be reviews but just not game reviews in a classical sense.
Let's see what does this trilogy have to offer. First up, in Episode 2 of this revisting series of articles, is the first chapter of EA 007 Trilogy - Agent Under Fire
Stay tuned... or online... you get the point ;)