Thursday, September 7, 2023

The Story Behind ‘Everything or Nothing’ Plot: Voodoo Sacrifices, Zodiac Signs and a Submarine Battle

Everything Or Nothing is frequently considered as a better conclusion for the Pierce Brosnan James Bond cycle than Die Another Day, the twentieth installment in the EON-produced series, which was affected by its profusion of special effects and exaggerated stunts. Oddly, the sixth Bond video game published by Electronic Arts doubled down in most of these “exaggerated” aspects. To begin with, those who shuddered at the invisible Aston Martin Vanquish not only see it here, but the same adaptive camouflage feature is added to 007’s Porsche Cayenne and the secret agent himself, thanks to a “Nano Suit” that can render him invisible for a period of time. And, while Die Another Day allowed Bond to improvise and survive without MI6 backup or gadgets during the first half of the film, Everything Or Nothing moved from the Middle East to Egypt, Peru, New Orleans and Moscow with shootouts and car chases every five minutes.

The game was set to be released in November 2003, but delayed to February 2004 when the developers decided to improve the experience by adding a cooperative multiplayer mode, among other things. For the first time, a proper “casting” was made for a Bond game and Pierce Brosnan not only shared his likeness and voice talent for Ian Fleming’s spy, but so did Willem Dafoe as ex-KGB agent Nikolai Diavolo, Shannon Elizabeth as Serena St Germaine, Heidi Klum as Katya Nadonova, Mya Harrison as NSA agent Mya Sterling and the MI6 staff from the films, Judi Dench as M and John Cleese as Q. In this adventure, Bond not only faced off with a disciple of A View To A Kill’s Max Zorin, but he also fought Jaws, who for the first time appeared in an original 007 adventure not related to The Spy Who Loved Me or Moonraker in any form.

Written by Bruce Feirstein and based on a story by Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo, Everything or Nothing saw Bond preventing Diavolo’s world domination plan through the use of a weapon based on nanobots capable of consuming most types of metal. Early stages of development of the game began in around 2001, as Electronic Arts wanted to improve the third-person experience in a Bond game after the lukewarm reception to Tomorrow Never Dies, based on the 1997 film and released two years later marking the secret agent’s Playstation debut.

But before Brosnan’s last Bond adventure became what we all know, early ideas proposed by creative director Phillip Campbell offered a much more intriguing plot beginning in Pakistan and culminating on a Thunderball-like battle under the waters of the Arctic Circle, with characters based on Elizabeth Hurley, Anthony Hopkins and Zhang Ziyi. The story was also bound to slight alterations depending on the decisions taken by the player controlling Bond, be it sparing an enemy’s life or choosing which girl to stay with at the end of the story.

Under the working title 007: Shot By Both Sides, the game had Bond fighting a cryptic organization known as ZODIAC, whose members identify with a zodiac sign and arrange different types of terrorist attacks to conceal a larger endgame: the destruction of the world through a substance known as “The Package”, deployed through a submarine fleet into the world’s oceans. ZODIAC was integrated by a high-ranking MI6 member (Capricorn), a former IRA explosives expert (Gemini), a Nazi scientist (Aquarius), the duo of assassins Mr. T and Mr. A (Taurus and Aries), an African warlord (Sagittarius) and a Russian Navy Lieutenant commandeering the submarine fleet (Pisces). The organization also counted on the services of Isabella Scorapinni, the treacherous agent 009 (Scorpio), a Chinese Agent who was a former flame of Bond (Libra), the man in charge of the final stage of the plan (Cancer) and Brittany (Virgo), the daughter of a prominent industrialist MI6 is initially assigned to protect, brainwashed through the organization’s eco-friendly front. ZODIAC at some point thought of turning Bond and having him join his ranks, the reason why they codename him Leo.

For a long part of the game, Bond is framed by 009 and accused of perpetrating a terrorist attack in the French Quarter of New Orleans. This takes him to a graveyard and a ceremonial voodoo site on the Louisiana swamps and then to infiltrate MI6 to discover Capricorn’s agenda, at the time Taurus and Aires plant explosives in the building he has to defuse while avoiding a bomb squad.

In a similar situation to Blood Stone, 007 is assigned at some point to destroy a chemical refinery near the Khyber Pass and board a transcontinental train to follow the lead of Sagittarius. Another level sounds suspiciously similar to Skyfall, as Bond fought Gemini in an Irish farmhouse which culminated with an explosive confrontation in an ancient chapel on the hills.

The final act of the story included a grand underwater battle in the vein of Thunderball, where allied forces fought the submarine fleet led by Pisces as Bond, on the ground, has a showdown with Gemini (presumed dead for a while) and his remaining henchman, Cancer, onboard a helicopter. After learning that ZODIAC was behind the death of her father, Brittany leaves them and joins Bond’s side to run them down.

While the ending seemed more in line with the grandiloquence of Die Another Day, this concept was incredibly brainy and well-detailed considering it was developed for a video game instead of a film. There are elements that fans will find familiar to the films produced by EON: Mr. T and Mr. A is a team of assassins who always work together like Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd from Diamonds Are Forever and Isabella Scorapinni obviously takes her name after GoldenEye actress Izabella Scorupco. The Aston Martin Vanquish also appeared, this time featuring a mini-hang glider named the Q Wing, detached from the vehicle’s roof, and the explosive robotic spiders (known as the Q Spider in the game) were used by Taurus and Aries.

You can read more details of this initial Everything Or Nothing pitch in the recently released updated edition of Nicolás Suszczyk’s book, The Bond of The Millennium, fully dedicated to the Pierce Brosnan 007 films and video game adventures.

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