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Review: Connery brings Bond back to the U.S.S.R.

By Sid Lipsey
CNN

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Connery agreed to lend his voice and likeness to the Bond video game.

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Sean Connery

(CNN) -- Sean Connery, the original suave British spy in the popular James Bond films, is once again playing 007 in Electronic Arts' video game remake of the 1963 Bond movie, "From Russia With Love."

"[Connery] was receptive to it right from the beginning," says EA's "From Russia With Love" executive producer Glen Schofield, who worked with Connery during voice recording sessions in the Bahamas.

He says Connery agreed to lend his voice and likeness to the Bond video game for two reasons: for one, Connery's grandkids are big-time gamers; secondly, Connery was eager to revisit "From Russia With Love," his favorite Bond movie.

"He fell right back into it pretty quickly," Schofield remembers. "It was pretty amazing."

From the moment Connery utters his first line in the "From Russia With Love" game, he sounds less like the debonair 30-something spy he played in the early Bond films and more like the doddering elderly professor he played more recently in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."

But you quickly forget about that and realize that you are indeed playing old-school Bond.

The game mirrors the movie's 1963 setting and, somewhat more loosely, its plot.

Everything in the "From Russia With Love" available on PlayStation 2, Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo Gamecube, screams the '60s -- right down to the skinny neckties, Bond's classic Aston Martin DB5, and the Soviet troops Bond sometimes ends up in scrapes with.

But this game is no mere Cold War nostalgia trip. "From Russia With Love" is first and foremost an action video game with little of the "kiss kiss" and plenty of the "bang bang" you remember from the Bond movies.

The third-person action format that worked so well in EA's last (and best) Bond game, "Everything or Nothing," is back in "From Russia With Love."

On a PS2, your Bond character is very agile and maneuverable in shootouts and you're quickly able to auto-target multiple enemies. But an occasionally frustrating downside is that you have to pause the action to switch weapons -- not an ideal thing to do when you're trying to take out a multitude of surrounding baddies.

Like EA's previous Bond games, "Russia" gives you credit for performing "Bond Moves" such as discovering hidden areas or taking out bad guys in particularly creative or stealthy ways. These "Bond Moves" are good for points you can use to upgrade your weapons and gadgets.

"From Russia With Love" does manage to outdo its predecessors in the sheer variety of game play it offers. EA's previous Bond games switched between action sequences and driving missions.

"From Russia With Love" takes that variety up a notch; some levels have you running and gunning, others have you driving at breakneck speeds through European streets, and others have you soaring over London's Big Ben in a jet pack.

Sometimes you end up doing all of the above. "Not only do we have this great variety [of game play]," says Schofield, "we also got it all into one level. So where in the old Bond games you might have had a driving level and maybe a shooting level, we have some that jam-pack all of that into one level." That means fewer time-outs while your console loads the next action sequence and a more seamless gaming experience.

Still, the best reason to play "From Russia With Love" remains Sir Sean. Connery gives "From Russia With Love" an authenticity that almost makes you think your name really is "Bond... James Bond."

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