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Preview: Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Conspiracy Hands-On

Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Conspiracy is a third-person action game developed by High Moon in conjunction with the Bourne scriptwriter, Tony Gilroy. The Bourne franchise started back in 1980 when the first novel, The Bourne Identity, was released – which in 2002 became an award winning movie. Now in 2008, the Bourne franchise hits the next-generation of gaming, expanding on the already established series.

“Become the perfect weapon. Become Bourne.”

I got to play three highly cinematic levels taking control of CIA agent Jason Bourne on three different difficulties: Trainee, Agent and Assassin. The first level saw Jason escaping the American Embassy in a tutorial-type level. The second level saw Jason running through a subway station, gunning down enemies and to top it all off, the third level contained a high-speed car chase; all in a day’s work for agent Bourne – phew!

The first level, Escape the Embassy, starts off with Jason surrounded by enemies whom you escape from and find yourself trying to escape from the military using a combination of running and fighting. This level is great fun and is a great introduction to the game.

The second level, Eliminate Divandelen, introduces the player to guns and shooting. I felt this was the weakest level out of the three I played, mainly due to the poor targeting system. The reticule is simply a very small white dot which, when pointed at an enemy, gets slightly bigger and turns red. The A button is also used far too much. Picking up weapons, getting into cover and block is all done using A. Despite this, there are a few positives to take from the level. The locations within the game look fantastic, and the interactive environment is superb. Wooden boxes and parts of pillars can be broken by simply shooting them a few times and therefore allowing less cover for you to engage enemies. Feeling similar to Grand Theft Auto IV, you make chase with an enemy on-the-run while their “crew” helps out by slowing down your progress.

The third and final level I played, Paris Chase, was my personal favourite. I took control of a car and had to escape the police … sounds familiar? Whilst it only lasted 2 minutes or so, the driving is superb and once again, the environments look fantastic. The quick time event at the end of the level is a great addition also.

“A weapon doesn’t feel, it doesn’t think. It only executes.”

The controls seemed very simple to pick up thanks to the easy-to-understand tutorial. A is used to block in combat and as an action button (to open doors, jump over gaps, etc.). X and Y buttons are light and heavy attacks respectively. The B button is the “finisher move” which can be activated during combat when Jason builds up enough adrenaline. These moves include the snapping of limbs through to throwing your opponent into parts of the environment. The right trigger is (quite obviously) fire, left bumper draws your weapon and the right bumper is to sprint.

Similar to Tomb Raider: Legend, The Bourne Conspiracy uses a quick time event where players have to press the corresponding button during the cut scene. These are indicated by a bleep sound (so listen out for them). This keeps the game flowing and works really well. Jason Bourne also has a “sixth sense” which is an improved version of the “Spider Sense” in Spiderman 3. To activate it, players hold the Y button and the radar will show enemy locations and the location of where you should be.

The graphics in The Bourne Conspiracy are top notch and the audio is to a movie-standard, even in the “incomplete” version.

From what I’ve played so far, The Bourne Conspiracy contains nothing we haven’t seen before and shares some very similar characteristics to Grand Theft Auto IV. I feel the movie-like feel to the game will win a lot of fans over however, and the fact that it’s a tie-in to the superb movie titles adds even more excitement.

The demo for Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Conspiracy is available to download from the XBOX LIVE Marketplace as of Monday 19th May 2008 with the full retail game available from Friday 27th June (subject to change). Keep an eye out for our full review closer to the release.

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