The most recent James Bond game to grace consoles, last week's 007 Legends is, sadly, just not good. Fans of the British super-spy need not despair, however: there is a genuinely good James Bond tie-in game out this fall. And it's a text adventure.
The British Intelligence Officers Exam puts players in the shoes of a would-be MI6 agent, working through a series of simulations designed to judge one's fitness for the high-stakes organization. With all of the guns, the flash, the voice acting, and the physics of a AAA game (or blockbuster film) stripped away, the Exam succeeds in making secret missions all about being quick and clever. There's a lot of tension in needing to be very resourceful, very quickly.
The branding is, perhaps, a little over the top. Sony sponsored the project, and it shows. Every mission involves not just a smartphone or a tablet, but specifically an Xperia phone and/or Xperia tablet. Did we mention Xperia? Xperia!
Still, the gadgets in the game, like the gadgets in the Daniel Craig Bond movies, are a reminder that over the last fifty years, real-world tech has gone places that even Q could barely dream of. The pocket tech also serves as a useful way to introduce useful maps and real photos into a text game, truly making it a product of the 21st century.
The strangest part, to an old text-adventure junkie, is that the game works in natural language. You, the potential MI6 recruit, are meant to be talking to an agent in the field. If you say, "look," she doesn't understand you. But if you ask, "What do you see?" or, "Where are you now?" she'll return a thorough response.
The game lets you enter an e-mail address to save progress, so you can come back and play the five missions one at a time when you have a moment. Most take about 5-10 minutes to complete.