This review is in issue 201 of GamesMaster magazine, out July 2.
With Splinter Cell: Conviction's Sam Fisher AWOL until 2009, and Solid Snake little more than an old fogey, now's Jason Bourne's chance to steal a march on his espionage rivals and establish himself as the next-gen secret agent supreme. It's a lofty aim, but can developers High Moon possibly pull it off?
In one sense, they've more than succeeded; not only is Bourne undoubtedly among the most cinematic gaming experiences of all time, it's also one of the most breakneck. At literally no point will you be ambling about wondering what to do; Bourne spends the entirety of the game either chasing somebody or running for his life from somebody else. Bullets whiz past your ears, you're assaulted from all sides, chased through city streets, sniped at, beaten and left for dead... and that's all within the first hour!
There are four main components to Bourne: fighting, blasting, driving... and legging it, as the muddled plot flits between Jase's murky past as a Treadstone assassin and the key set pieces from Identity.
The Gears of War-style shootouts in such disparate locales as Zurich airport and a library in Vilnius are superb, QTE-laden chases such as the Embassy Escape pack manifold thrills 'n' spills and even the single driving level around Paris is an unashamedly arcadey throwback to classic '80s coin-ops. Throw in some particularly memorable boss fights - with Divandelen and The Professor our standouts - and you're laughing, right?
Wrong. Disappointingly, the patented 'escape and evade' gameplay dynamic comes with a hefty price to pay; put simply, The Bourne Conspiracy might just be the most linear game since the original Dragon's Lair.
Try to deviate from set paths and you'll die, fail just one QTE and you'll be punished with arduous reloads. And while it's tempting to forgive Jase because his game is so gorgeous - all arty camera angles and bone-crunching fight choreography - we feel compelled to make a stand, especially when it's possible to blast through in under six hours...
Great while it lasts, but if this was at secret agent school we'd say: must spy harder!