The 10 best James Bond games of all time
The James Bond movies have all the right ingredients for a decent video game — namely guns, violence, and a few more guns for good measure — so it's perhaps surprising that only a handful of games have etched themselves into the collective memory.
That said, the martini-drinking, wise-cracking spy lent his name to the defining console FPS game of the 90s, so we should probably let him off for producing a few duds over the years.
There have been around 20 Bond games in total – a number we're going to halve for this round-up with a swift Judo chop to the neck.
James Bond: Goldfinger
Goldfinger is the best James Bond text adventure. As far as we know it's also the only James Bond text adventure, and that's a blessing given how ludicrously-hard and true to the film it is.
The only reason it made it into this list is that it's hard not to giggle at it, mainly because the game insists on repeatedly reminding you when the film's henchwoman-turned-heroine is present. "Pussy is here" it says, as you wait for Auric Goldfinger to finish a Very Long Speech; "Pussy is here" it says, as he bangs on about nuking Fort Knox; "Pussy is here" it says, as you flip-kick him out of his Pussy-piloted helicopter.
The World Is Not Enough
Pierce Brosnan's Bond returns for his third outing, although Brosnan still wouldn't voice the character. After the lukewarm reaction to Tomorrow Never Dies, EA returned to the GoldenEye first-person perspective for TWINE and stuck to the movie's plot, with Bond protecting the suspicious Elektra King from the terrorist Renard.
That was a wise choice, and this was the best-scoring Bond game of all time. The 14 missions are nicely varied and focus on the best moments from the movie, such as swimming through a sunken submarine or chasing Cigar Girl from the MI6 offices.
James Bond 007: Blood Stone
The first original story in a Bond game since the Agent Under Fire trilogy, this so-so third-person shooter was created by Bizarre Creations – the last game that venerable developer worked on before it shut.
The gameplay involves substantial close-combat elements, enabling players to build up shooting instakills from doing melee takedowns. Meanwhile, the smart and original plot sees Bond running across half the world to prevent biological weapon attacks, but ends on a never-to-be-resolved cliffhanger, as Activision lost the Bond license in 2014.
Tomorrow Never Dies
A popular, successful Bond game is not necessarily a good Bond game. Domark's early Bond games sold bucketloads – but every game was cheaply made, often either a reskin or a clone. When EA inherited the franchise it improved the quality, but most of the games were generic shooters.
Despite launching two years after the film, the Tomorrow Never Dies game follows the plot quite tightly, mixing stealth and action as Bond seeks to track down the media mogul Elliot Carver. Today, it looks exactly like the low-spec Playstation game it was.
007: Quantum of Solace
2008's Quantum of Solace came after a three-year hiatus caused by EA's inability to produce a game for the release of Casino Royale in 2006, which lost them the licence after eight successful (if generic) years.
Activision snapped up the rights, and produced this tie-in for the 2008 film, also incorporating a huge flashback of the entirety of Casino Royale to explain what the hell was going on. The best version is on PS2 and is essentially a huge Call of Duty 4 reskin, even down to a large array of original multiplayer modes.
From Russia With Love
Flashing back to the era of Sean Connery, probably the best-loved Bond, was a stroke of genius; getting Connery to voice his younger self was even better. This was EA's last Bond game, and they embellished it nicely, having the script written by Bruce Feirstein, who worked on three of the Bond movie scripts, and setting it in the locations of the film, including on the Orient Express and in Instanbul.
As usual, it presented driving, combat and stealth from a third-person perspective, and presented a non-linear level progression. Oh, and it let you fly the jetpack from Thunderball over the House of Commons, for no real reason.
007: Agent Under Fire
2001's Agent Under Fire goes to show that with enough marketing you can sell five million copies of anything. The game originally started as the cancelled PC version of The World Is Not Enough. Pierce Brosnan, increasingly comfortable in the role of Bond, declined to supply his likeness for this game except on the box, so most of the time you're playing a short, generic Bond shooter, with odd forays into a rail shooter or a racing game (using the Need for Speed engine).
The plot is all about a group of Swiss villains determined to clone a bunch of world leaders for typically-daft reasons. Like TWINE, Bond has a huge variety of gadgets, but this time they're rolled into his then cutting-edge mobile phone.
James Bond 007: Nightfire (console version)
This was the 2002 sequel to Agent Under Fire, and this time Brosnan decided that the game could use his face, but not his voice.
It's worth noting that, like many of the other Bond games, this had different developers for the console, GBA and PC versions, with the latter having a different storyline, missions, and online play. The PC version by Gearbox was utterly dreadful, so we're talking about the console version here, which was much better, following Bond as he attempts to prevent space-based nuclear terrorism and featuring mixed shooter and racing sections.
James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing
This is the last of the trilogy that started with Agent Under Fire, and the console developers had really gotten into their stride. Unusually for a Bond tie-in this game was the first to have an all-star cast, with Brosnan, John Cleese, Judi Dench, Willem Dafoe, Richard Kiel and Heidi Klum all featuring. The plot focuses on nanotechnology-based terrorism, and returns to Tomorrow Never Dies' third-person perspective.
Again, the game is only a few hours long – a problem with this entire trilogy – but despite that it's easily the second-best Bond game of all time.
Ah, it's bloody GoldenEye! Not the recent remake, but the 1997 original by Rare, which sold eight million copies. People of a certain generation will remember manfully struggling with the godawful N64 controllers so we could shoot our mates in tiny split-screen combat. Playing alone, you'll relive all the movie's key moments: that bit on the dam, that bit where Bond remembers to wind his laser watch; or that bit where Boromir asks Eddard Stark why Sean Bean has to die in every single thing he's in.