Everybody loves an underdog. The characters underestimated by the silver-spooned bad guys, humiliating the bullies that stinted their potential and mocked them for being inferior. They're easy to root for, and we love to see ourselves in them. Regardless of context, everyone has experienced moments in their lives where they feel betrayed or mistreated, making characters like Jason Bourne an attractive fantasy to embody.
Both hunter and hunted, Bourne picks apart the agency that controlled him and dismantles the very best of the shady backbiting Intelligence industry.
James Bond may have the gadgets, and Bruce Wayne the riches, but Jason Bourne is on his own. Much like the conjurer who reads the minds of an audience and assures you that nothing supernatural is taking place, Bourne's extraordinary ability to adapt and perform feels attainable and realistic.
This list details four of the essential gaming experiences that make you think, feel and act like the thirty million dollar weapon that is Jason Bourne.
A pure and uncompromised vision, Mirror's Edge demonstrates the importance of an inspired and distinct concept when crafting an experience that can stand the test of time.
Best known for their Battlefield series, EA DICE took the first-person genre and distilled the intense quick-thinking of a high-speed foot chase into a complete platforming experience. We've seen parkour in video games before, but never through the eyes of Faith Connors.
By combining her abilities to leap from rooftops, slide down the sides of buildings and wall-run past helicopter fire, Faith is able to exchange written messages by hand in this cold, dystopian society. Digital communications aren't safe, and all messages are carefully assessed and censored—putting "runners" like Faith in high demand.
Times are bleak, but rather than relying on invasive dialogue to sell its world, the game employs a meaningful art direction. Almost every room is themed around a primary colour and painted to perfection; nothing is out of place, everything has a reason. The décor is as maintained and monitored as the inhabitants of Mirror's Edge. It would be easy to accept life in a world so controlled, comfortable and crime-free, but Faith was never meant to be caged.
Forever on the run and living atop the mirror's edge, she is a worthy underdog for our Bourne fantasy. But it is her tenacity and efficient hand-to-hand combat that seal the deal.
Faith dodges enemy fire, steals their weaponry and tosses it to the side like she has better things to do. And while the combat doesn't possess the hypnotic rhythms of Batman: Arkham City, everything is done in service of the pace. It is relentless, forcing players to remain as attentive and flexible as Jason Bourne.
Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy is an obvious choice, but an often underappreciated one. Based on the 2002 movie adaptation of Robert Ludlum's book, The Bourne Identity, the game follows Jason's desire to regain his lost memories and root out the treadstone agents tracking him down.
An inconsistent mix of third-person shooter and fighter, The Bourne Conspiracy may not be as profound as Mirror's Edge, but High Moon Studios (creators of Transformers: Fall of Cybertron) were ahead of the curb when they delivered this faithful Bourne simulator back in 2008.
Both Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception and Sleeping Dogs were praised in recent years for their instant feedback, hand-to-hand combat systems: systems that react to the environment around you and recognise everyday objects as weapons. But The Bourne Conspiracy had done this before, and it was dripping with Jason's signature.
When approached as a third-person shooter, the player is left wanting. Aiming is clumsy and impractical, with enemies lacking the intelligence of a mayfly—never mind Jason Bourne. Get up close, and the drab, unfulfilling gunplay transitions into an exciting fist-flying brawl, utilising items within the environment after initiating a "takedown".
Overseen by Bourne movie fight co-ordinator, Jeff Imada, the takedowns are visceral and stylish. The famous book attack in Ultimatum and the excruciating pen stabbings of Identity are all here, with a selection of specialty animations extending to enemy groups and boss fights.
It is a pity the structure wasn't given as much love as the animation. The odd flow between repetitive shootouts and exciting hand-to-hand combat is a major drawback on the title, but if nothing else, smashing a guy's head into a radiator really makes you feel like Bourne.
We've run like Bourne, fought like Bourne, and now we're ready to hunt like Bourne. The loyal fanbase of Ubisoft's stealth series are still a bit wounded by Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction, but we can rejoice in the birth of a more complete Jason Bourne simulator as we fill the shoes of Sam Fisher.
A highly trained field agent of Third Echelon, Fisher's been around the block a few times, infiltrating terrorist ranks as a double agent and preventing World War III. His ability to serve is unquestionable, but after discovering a hint of foul play in the accidental death of his daughter, the man goes rogue.
This premise sets up a transformation of the Splinter Cell formula, mutating certain aspects of stealth tradition and giving the player a great sense of power and control. Hiding behind cover and waiting for the patrol units to complete their cycle on the AI conveyer belt is a thing of the past. Sam is a new man, one with self-directed purpose and conviction. You can still make yourself at home in the shadows, but the tools of Splinter Cell: Conviction put the fight firmly in your hands, allowing you to remain silent and deadly.
New additions such as "Mark and Execute" and a visual representation of your last known position within the game world, enhance both the action and the stealth. By marking his targets ahead of time, Sam is able to move freely around the environment, just waiting to push the button and unleash a flurry of precision headshots to his enemies. You can start channelling Bourne himself as you shoot out the lights, take an enemy hostage and drop his teammates before they ever knew what hit them.
On the surface, Hitman: Absolution might look more Bond than Bourne. The smart suits and silky accent... Perhaps he'll fondle the leading lady and drop a smug one-liner after escaping the jaws of death?
No such luck. Agent 47 is a man of purpose and reason. Remember, "they don't do random, there's always a target, always an objective."
Hitman: Absolution puts you in the middle of a living world with all of its pleasures and ugliness. You approach every target and situation with the same meticulous calculations of a Portia spider; laying traps for your prey, and adjusting to your mistakes as and when they happen. The only life Agent 47 ever knew was one of contract killings and betrayal, but now he fights for himself.
Moving through the immense crowd of a Chinese New Year celebration, you have three targets in sight. Taking out the silverballer pistols and ending their lives would fulfil your objective immediately, as well as shame the legacy of both 47 and Jason Bourne.
There are a number of ways to dispose of them silently, seamlessly woven into the environments and discovered via exploration and eavesdropping. Infiltrating sensitive areas disguised as a bodyguard might give you the edge you need to orchestrate an elaborate "accident", but things don't always go as planned. Misfortunes do occur, and not just for your victims. Hitman: Absolution excels in its ability to give players the chance to contain the situation after their disguise is blown by a nosey, keen-eyed cop.
Faking your surrender during the arrest sets off a chain of events that would sit well in any Bourne fantasy. Deprive the man of his weapon, element of surprise and consciousness, and you've felt the kind of satisfaction that can only be attained from a compelling simulation demanding quick-thinking and improvisation.
Bourne is a man of direction and skill. Whilst simultaneously evading his pursuers, he investigates and topples any threat that comes his way. Mirror's Edge, The Bourne Conspiracy, Splinter Cell: Conviction and Hitman: Absolution grant you access to an artificial sampling of those abilities, making them the safest way to crash through windows, snap arms in two, vandalise urinals, and kill a scientist with a crowd of angry pigs.