A Bourne game so violent that Matt Damon refused to lend his voice to it? Sure, sign me up! That and the fact that you get to drive a Mini are the only things that I knew about The Bourne Conspiracy before diving into it.
The main draw for me in playing a Bourne game is to feel like a bad-ass and pull off ninja-like moves with Jason Bourne-like finesse. In that regard, the game delivers 100%. Boring button-mashing hand to hand combat is polished with take-down moves which can be performed once the stamina meter builds up. Pressing B will activate a take-down move on the current enemy, which uses whatever objects and environments are nearby. This means that even if you're fighting someone in a small room, your take-down move can vary from slamming his head into the glass of a window, throwing him into a wall, or grabbing a screwdriver from a tool chest and stabbing the enemy multiple times in the arm.
Another prominent stunt in the Bourne movies is lots of acrobatics while running away from things. The Bourne Conspiracy implements this with a sprint button and ample cover during long "run or die" sequences. Ducking behind a bunch of crates while enemies are mowing you down and popping up occasionally to deliver some well-placed headshots can only work for so long before the crates turn into a pile of splinters. It's frustrating, but a nice dose of realism at the same time. If an obstacle gets in the way of running from point A to point B, pressing the action button will have Bourne interact with the obstacle whether it is climbing on top of it to reach higher ground, or jumping over it and launching you into a cinematic QTE that makes you feel pretty spry.
Unlike the hand to hand combat, the gun-play in Bourne Conspiracy felt clumsy. The aiming always felt a little off, and it was difficult to smoothly transition from shooting someone to popping out of cover and sprinting to the next safe spot. If an enemy gets into the way, the game luckily automatically lets you land a melee attack before bringing the player into hand-to-hand combat.
The Bourne Conspiracy is about feeling like the super spy that Bourne is. Unfortunately, the super spy isn't that good of a driver because the driving sequences leave much to be desired. They feel tacked on and trying too hard to be GTA-ish, especially with the cops on your tail. As much as I like driving a mini cooper, it feels like it was only included for product placement. I treated it like a chore.
Licensed games based on action movies don't inspire a lot of excitement in me, but The Bourne Conspiracy surprised me. The graphics are next-gen quality, the voice acting decent, and it was is actually enjoyable when you're not driving or trying to shoot at something too quickly. It may not be Splinter Cell, but it's still satisfying to pull off moves that you can only do in movies and games.
Images courtesy of High Moon Studios.