Everything or Nothing was video game James Bond at his best

On April 10, Daniel Craig will offer up his final performance as the smooth and stylish secret agent James Bond when No Time to Die, the 25th entry in the long-running James Bond film legacy, hits theaters. Given how popular the James Bond franchise is, it’s not surprising that the slick British agent with a license to kill has appeared in dozens of video games, including the revered 1997 N64 classic GoldenEye 007.

However, while GoldenEye 007 might be James Bond’s most recognizable video game outing, one could argue that it’s not quite his best. Sure, it recreates the GoldenEye film off which it’s based nearly to a T and has some pretty stellar local multiplayer, but its graphics and gameplay haven’t exactly aged gracefully over the two+ decades since its debut. Trying to decide which of the over 20 James Bond-starring games is the best would be a serious undertaking, but no matter the criteria, the 2004 title James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing would be a strong contender for the top spot.

Interactive Cinema

Numerous James Bond games over the years have been tied to an accompanying film of the same name and have thus utilized the likenesses of the movie’s respective actors. GoldenEye 007, as dated as its N64 graphics look now, still gave players some pretty believable polygon models for actors like Pierce Brosnan, Famke Janssen, and Sean Bean among others.

Since he was the actor portraying James Bond’s film persona at the time, Brosnan’s likeness was also used for subsequent games such as the video game tie-ins for Tomorrow Never Dies and The World is Not Enough (both released in 1999) as well as the 2002 game James Bond 007: Nightfire. However, while all of those games featured Brosnan on the cover, Bond’s in-game voice and mo-cap was always provided by another actor. With Everything or Nothing, that all changed.

Everything or Nothing stood out amidst the usual James Bond video game fare for several reasons. For one, it was part of a newer string of games that weren’t tied directly to an accompanying movie and instead featured more original plots. These games, which included the previously mentioned Nightfire as well as 2001’s Agent Under Fire, often lacked the production value to really wow critics, but with Everything or Nothing publisher Electronic Arts was clearly going all in on the glitz and flash that defined cinema’s most iconic secret agent.

To help sell Everything or Nothing’s status as an original James Bond game which could stand toe-to-toe with its cinematic brethren, EA made sure to recruit Pierce Brosnan not only for his likeness but also his voice and motion capture. Since Everything or Nothing was developed after Brosnan’s last live-action turn as James Bond in the 2002 film Die Another Day, the game actually wound up being his final time portraying the eponymous secret agent. And EA didn’t stop with Brosnan. Actors Judi Dench, John Cleese, and Richard Kiel were also brought on to reprise their respective James Bond film characters M, R, and Jaws.

The game’s plot also required the presence of several new characters, and to portray those characters EA tapped Hollywood talent like Shannon Elizabeth, Heidi Klum, Misaki Ito, and Willem Dafoe. The actress and R&B singer Mya was brought on to perform the game’s original theme song, and she even wound up playing a small part in the game itself as an NSA agent named Mya Starling who helps Bond.

In many ways, Everything or Nothing aimed to both push the James Bond franchise forward and pay proper homage to its past. Along with bringing Richard Kiel back as the infamous metal-mouthed henchman Jaws, the game also established Dafoe’s main villain Nikolai Diavolo as being a protégée of Max Zorin, the villain portrayed by Christopher Walken in the 1985 Bond film A View to a Kill.

Gameplay To Die For

Like many James Bond games before it, Everything or Nothing shipped with a competitive multiplayer component (it was also the one and only Bond game to ever have an optional two-player co-op mode), but it was the story campaign that got the bulk of developer EA Redwood’s attention. Each of the game’s distinct gameplay systems, which included third-person exploration, cover-based shooting, fast-paced driving sequences, and hand-to-hand combat, were all highly polished and allowed for the use of Bond’s signature gadgets and tools.

While a modified version of the id Tech 3 game engine (the same engine used for Nightfire) was used for Everything or Nothing’s shooting and fighting segments, EA recognized that a different sort of engine would be required for the driving sequences. To help the game’s driving feel as smooth and engaging as possible, EA tapped its Vancouver development studio and had them lend out their EAGL engine, the same engine that powered the company’s iconic Need for Speed series.

This clever combining of game engines along with a high-caliber plot that fully embraced the bombastic and slightly silly nature of the James Bond brand allowed Everything or Nothing to stand out as both a cinematic spy thriller and an interactive experience. The game’s bonkers story involving nanobots, Peruvian rally racing, platinum-plated tanks, and a full-blown assault on Russia’s Red Square may not have been the most memorable of James Bond’s many outings, but it certainly showcased what a successful marriage of cinema and video games could look like.

You Only Live Twice

Everything or Nothing was far from the last James Bond game to ever be released, but the high peaks of praise it reached after launch sadly wound up being the prelude to a steady downward decline over subsequent years. Just a year after Everything or Nothing’s arrival, EA released another successful James Bond game, this one based off the 1963 film From Russia With Love and featuring the return of actor Sean Connery after a 22-year hiatus from the role. However, in 2006, plans for a game based off the then-upcoming Daniel Craig film Casino Royale fell through when EA realized the game wouldn’t be ready in time for the film’s launch. As a result, relations between EA and Bond movie producer MGM soured, and EA effectively abandoned the James Bond video game license in May 2006.

Shortly after EA stepped out, publisher Activision scooped up the James Bond license and fast-tracked a 2008 game which blended elements from both Casino Royale and its follow-up film, Quantum of Solace (the game was simply called 007: Quantum of Solace). After Quantum of Solace, Activision announced it would be “rebooting” the N64 GoldenEye 007 game with a modern PS3/Xbox/Nintendo Wii remake starring Daniel Craig’s version of Bond.

Both the GoldenEye 007 remake and an original Bond game called James Bond 007: Blood Stone (which took a similar approach as Everything or Nothing with its casting and gameplay) were released in 2010, and both received favorable reviews. 2012’s 007: Legends, however, was universally panned by critics despite having a unique concept of remaking iconic moments from James Bond’s storied history in interactive form. As of this writing, there have been no new James Bond games released since 007: Legends.

Diamonds Are Forever

It’s hard to say whether we’ll ever see a new James Bond video game (never say never, after all), but even if we don’t, there are still several solid 007 video game outings to look back on fondly, Everything or Nothing being chief among them.

Even though fans and players may not have realized it at the time, Everything or Nothing was an integral step towards proving that video games can indeed tap into many of the same elements that make for a successful movie. The fact that it did so while also utilizing one of the biggest spy thriller franchises in cinema history was just a welcome bonus.