When author Robert Ludlum created his tense spy fiction novel, The Bourne Identity, way back in the 1980s it's unlikely that he would have thought it becoming the trigger to a globally successful trilogy of films, each based on his books. Nor is it likely that he would have thought a videogame would dovetail into the Bourne mythology. However, if there's one thing that's clearly part of Jason Bourne's charm, it's his unpredictability - and that's something perfectly captured here...
Matt Dam- waaaait a minute...
The Bourne Conspiracy takes place between the cracks of the first film, allowing you to play a prelude of sorts leading up to the events of The Bourne Identity, missions from Bourne's past and certain parts of the movie itself, such as the daring bank escape across the rooftops of Zurich.
It's a pleasing mixture of the familiar and the new which will instantly engage fans of the trilogy, filling in gaps of the character's history in various objectives that range from tracking down a rogue general to assassination of an important target. Set pieces from the film itself are also given a little artistic license to keep you on your toes as you move the plot forwards.
In fact, the only thing missing is the likeness of Matt Damon (the actor who brought Bourne to life on the big screen), but as you'll swiftly discover this doesn't diminish the super tough special ops agent's ability to get the job done in a style that looks like it was taken straight from the Hollywood blockbuster.
Shown in a third person perspective, the game offers impressive visuals as the assassin travels around the globe. The locations, such as the opening Marseille setting, are lavishly recreated and blend perfectly with the nicely animated characters - Bourne especially.
Likewise, the voice acting is very well done and the soundtrack builds a superb feeling of drama, as if taken directly from the films, changing to the context of the action on screen.
However, it's the way all these elements combine with the gameplay that's especially striking. Developer High Moon Studios was obviously keen on trying to convey the franchise's energy into game form and is hugely successful through a seamlessly effective blend of action styles and dramatic flourishes.
Become the perfect weapon
Given the titular hero's tag as the perfect weapon, a lot of effort has been made to let you live up to that. While roaming the detailed environment, you'll inevitably engage in skirmishes, which is where The Bourne Conspiracy shines. Hand-to-hand combat looks and feels like the movie, using energetic camera shots and motion blur to convey dynamic and constant movement, while the controls give depth through various moves and blocks, making one-on-one (or even three-on-one) fights an edgy and engaging affair.
What makes it special is the ability for Bourne to use his signature fighting style and environment to his advantage. When his adrenaline meter is high enough, Bourne is able to perform devastating takedown moves that can range from disarming and crippling an opponent, to using anything nearby (chairs, tables, walls... even books and microwaves) to push, slam and otherwise bounce your enemy off for additional damage. The more adrenaline you allow to build, the more foes you can eliminate in succession.
This ability isn't limited to just ramming people's head's off railings and frying pans, either - takedowns can also be performed with guns, allowing for some spectacularly filmic moments as slow motion reloads and cross body shots are performed. The use of the game's real time engine for these sections (as well as its context sensitive do or die moments of daring escape and action) keeps everything slick and satisfying. Given that Bourne can also use adrenaline to kick in his heightened instincts and reveal objective markers, enemies and increase his gun accuracy, you truly do feel like a world class assassin.
A blast from the past... and present
With its well paced action, variation across driving, shooting and beat ‘em up mechanics, well thought out use of the film's narrative, high production values and excellent replication of the character and his abilities, The Bourne Conspiracy is a rampaging rollercoaster ride that is simply unforgettable for fans of the films. And if you're new to it all, don't worry - there's plenty here that will stick in the memory for a long time, too.