It didn’t seem a smart choice… a game based on the Bourne films? This late, after two sequels have already been released? Who’d be excited about that?
 
Then again, no one expected the movies
to be so good in the first place. Most of you probably had the same
wide-eyed, shocked look that I did when you first saw Matt Damon kicking ass. There’s a ton of action in the movies, and they really are some of the best in recent years (except the second…). Also, the developers (High Moon Studios, the guys behind the quite fun Darkwatch) don’t seem to have been forced to rush it out in time to cash in on media hype or a theatrical release… could that mean they were actually trying something special?

You can find out for yourself, as there’s a demo for the game out right now for the Xbox 360 (the PS3 gets it Thursday, cause Sony loves their Thursdays), weighing in at a hefty 1.2 gigs. It does exactly what you want it to do and gives you a nice long look at the various modes of the game, via three chapters. The game will apparently take you through the character’s backstory and all of the movies, although only The Bourne Identity is shown off in the demo.

First thing they throw you into is the combat system… and flight. By flight I mean running from foes, because it seems that Bourne does that a lot. In the first level you’ll play Bourne (who is no longer Damon!) as he’s trying to escape from a lot of bad men with big guns. You’ll be able to sample the hand to hand fighting along the way, but for the most part you’ll be running and smashing down doors, trying to escape a hail of bullets. Just finding the path you have to travel is quite fun, although extremely linear and scripted.
 


 

The combat, while very fast and brutal, is simplistic. You’ve
got two buttons for different punches and one to block. Hold down either punch button
for a while and unleash a powerful kick, but you’ll of course be susceptible to attack. Gotta love the pace of
this game, though. It feels like an old-school kung fu flick when
you’re fighting, from the speed of things. The takedowns are nice as well.


 
The second level gives you guns and lets you play with the cover system. It’s pretty fun to play peek-a-boo with the baddies in the middle of a train station, and one time a guy didn’t make it to cover before the train closed in and just obliterated him. Nice.

The game employs the popular regenerating health bar of most other
shooters nowadays, with the edges of the screen getting more and more
red as you get near death. You will die a bunch if you try a harder
difficulty, but thankfully there’s a ton of checkpoints. The one
problem? The loading after you die is lengthy. Hopefully the
final game will tighten that up a bit.

The game looks pretty, of course, as it’s roughly the 2,000th next gen game to use the Unreal engine. Everything looks great, and it’s cool how your cover can be shot away, and you can smash enemies into pretty much any object around you. Man, even the ammo count is slick. It shows the bullet leaving the gun, leaving you with a constant image of how many you have left.
  
The level ends with a boss fight, where you’ll take on a guy hand-to-hand. He’s a tough bastard and it will take a while to get him down, while you’ll try to use every single object that you can find in the area to smash him into and take him down… circuit boards, fans, hell, even a fire extinguisher to pull off a little Irreversible damage. It really does feel like a big fight at the end of a movie. That’s how most of the game feels, actually… incredibly cinematic. The camerawork and action is pretty intense.  The only problem is that most of the more awe-inspiring moments are scripted… they’re mostly in response to quick-time button presses.



The only section of the game that falls flat is third, which features a bit of driving. Like in the movie you’ll be driving a mini-cooper around the streets, trying to evade the police. It’s supposed to be fast and arcadey, just like the rest of the game, but there’s no real sense of speed… and since we’ve been inundated with so many great driving games recently it’s going to be hard for this one to hold our attention. Hopefully it won’t take up too much of the game.
 
But consider me surprised… it looks like we’ve got a movie-to-game property that’s going to be worth a purchase when it hits the 360 and PS3 in June. Definitely give the demo a whirl if GTA IV allows you, and check the website for more details.