The Bourne Conspiracy Hands-On

Sierra Entertainment and developer High Moon Studios set up shop at the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Francisco to show off part of three levels of the new demo of The Bourne Conspiracy. PlayStation 3 owners will be able to download the free demo beginning May 22 and the game ships June 10.

Although the game’s based on deceased author Robert Ludlum’s best-selling franchise, as well as the hit films from Universal Pictures, this game offers an original story line for fans. It also features a generic Jason Bourne who looks nothing like Oscar-winning actor Matt Damon—by design, since the actor was not interested in the project.


The Bourne Conspiracy takes the story of the first film, The Bourne Identity, and re-imagines key action sequences from it, offering new perspectives on that tale. In addition, the game explores an original backstory that delves into past missions not seen in the film. In fact, the first level of the game will allow players to experience Bourne’s assassination attempt on Lombosi aboard his yacht in Marseille. That’s the mission not seen in the film in which Bourne decides he can’t kill the warlord and is subsequently shot and loses his memory.

The game offers two diverse virtual Bournes, which opens up different gameplay techniques. The sequences based on the first film are of the amnesiac Bourne, who’s out to find the truth but not to kill. The hunted Bourne doesn’t use weapons and if he grabs a fire extinguisher off the wall he only bashes in an enemy’s head once. He’s hurting, not killing marines. They’re only doing their job. As the hunter Bourne, the assassin from the flashback levels, he’s a ruthless killer and he uses guns to kill enemies. 

From the outset, this game offers a very cinematic take on the action. The principle behind the new camera system is that there’s a cameraman in the scene with the player following Bourne. That means when an explosion rocks the area, the camera shakes. It gives the action a you-are-there feel and intensifies the pace of the game.


When it comes to the demo, players will be thrust into the action in an extended sequence from The Bourne Identity. In Zurich, Switzerland, Bourne walks into the American Embassy and the entire base is put on alert with marines trying to capture him. Gameplay revolves around a frenetic escape and evade sequence through the heavily-guarded embassy. Players must fight marines without killing them, using hand-to-hand combat and quick-action events involving anything in a room from the wall to a ballpoint pen. 

An example of a quick-action event has Bourne sprinting down a hallway when a marine jumps out, by hitting the B button at the right time, Bourne automatically takes out the marine without ever breaking his stride. 

The combat system revolves around two attack buttons. Combinations of the two buttons create combos that offer some intense fighting. By holding the two attack buttons down, you can charge up attacks. It’s a pick-up-and-play fighting system for the mainstream with depth for veteran gamers that offers some very cool payoffs in the form of Takedowns. You build up an adrenaline meter by attacking enemies. There are three tiers to the meter and it’s up to you whether to use it to take out one, two or three enemies simultaneously. The environments are context sensitive. To use the wall you just need to move close to it for a takedown and just like in the films, Bourne will eliminate a threat or threats in innovative ways. There are over 300 takedowns in the game. 

Helping you along the way is the Bourne Instinct, which can be used as much as you want in easy mode but is on a limited timer in harder levels. It can be used to pull up a radar indicator showing you where enemies are. It can also be used to find doors that you can unlock and objects that you can interact with in a room.


At the end of the Zurich level, Bourne must take out a marine mini-boss. He’s a lot harder to beat than your typical enemy, which creates a more drawn-out fight with two health meters. Pretty much anything in a room can be used as a takedown, the desk, the file cabinet, the wall, and that especially comes in handy during these battles. Objects you can pick up are highlighted in the Bourne Instinct. For example, you can use an electrical box for a takedown. 

The second level of the demo features Bourne as the Treadstone agent. It offers more hand-to-hand and shooting and the levels have been designed to give the player to seamlessly switch between these two fighting styles. Bourne is chasing a mercenary through the Zurich airport. It’s the last third of the level. You have to prevent him from hijacking a plane. 

The Bourne Instinct helps you find enemies and then target them with a gun. Since the game runs on Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3, taking cover is part of the game—although objects like crates and cars can be blown up and destroyed, so the cover often is only temporary. All of the destructible cover impacts both the enemies and you. Bullets can find their way through cover to you just as easily as your targeting can get through to crouching enemies.


When armed with a gun, Bourne can perform a shooting takedown. You build up adrenaline and hit the button to take out an enemy or enemies with a cinematic quick-action event. 

The end of this level—the entire level was not playable—features one of the kinetic sets from the game. It takes place aboard a loaded cargo plane with an open bay door, which is flying at a high altitude. Bourne must take out a number of enemies while avoiding trucks and other obstacles that are stored in the bay. 

High Moon lets it up to the player how to interact with these environments, which really adds a fun factor and a cinematic quality to the gameplay. Dodge a moving truck before it rolls off the plane or perform a takedown with a perfectly positioned enemy and throw him out of the plane’s door. There’s a lot of freedom with this gameplay. 

The last level in the demo was a recreation of the famous Mini Cooper chase sequence from The Bourne Identity. Two changes are that it’s now a new Mini Cooper, not the older model from the film, and the chase through Paris streets is extremely long.


Gameplay consists of arcade-style driving. Marie is in the car with you and she spends most of the time screaming. Although not much of it was playable at the event, what was offered a pick-up-and-play destroy Paris thrill ride from the movie. The level is very long. Damage modeling appears on the car, but it doesn’t impact the vehicle. You can build up adrenaline in the driving level and then use it for Bourne Driving Instinct, which takes down enemy vehicles. This taste of the game’s only driving level, which takes between Act 1 and 2 in the game, definitely left me wanting more. 

As far as the overall game, about 40 percent of the action will be recreated action sequences from The Bourne Identity movie. The rest of the game focuses on original Treadstone missions. The game supports Sony’s DualShock 3 controller as well. More on The Bourne Conspiracy soon.