Monday, 5 November 2012

007 Games Part 9: The World is Not Enough

Super AiG's Guide to Every (old) James Bond Game Ever, Volume 9

Two more Bond games today, one for the PlayStation, one for the Nintendo 64, and both based on the film The World is Not Enough, which came out the year before. Again computers have been completely left out, as the PC version of the game was cancelled.

Game 20 - The World is Not Enough (2000)
Formats: PlayStation.

The World is Not Enough PlayStation title screen
This one's by Black Ops Entertainment, the same folks who made the less than amazing Tomorrow Never Dies, but I'm hoping they've learned from that game's mistakes. Hey it's got a better title screen at least. Still no multiplayer though.

The World is Not Enough PlayStation select mission
Glad to see the mission select screen's back. Not enough shooters have one of these.

The World is Not Enough PlayStation briefing
No Judy Dench voice over, but I'm pretty sure that's the actual John Cleese playing Q's protege again.

M tells me that a banker called Lachaise has just sold a report taken from a murdered agent for a considerable sum of money. I'm to go over to his bank and have a chat to him about how exactly the agent found himself dead, and how he feels about giving all the money he was paid over to me instead. 

Gun barrel intro present and accounted for.

Though this time it actually segues into the start of the movie, showing Bond visiting a bank in Spain. I'd forgotten how gray and cold this movie looked.


LEVEL 1 - COURIER.


There's the standard GoldenEye-style third person character view as I enter the level, same as in Tomorrow Never Dies.

But unlike TND, this is a first person shooter! Shame the controls are still ass. C'mon, how could they have screwed this up two games in a row?

Using my clever and very inconspicuous jamming device I'm able to walk in through a metal detector without setting it off. If anyone asks I'll tell them the pen's made of plastic, and it spins because... that's what happens when I press the button.

That security guy at the end of the hall is blocking the door out of here, but after I went up to chat with him he just wandered off for no reason. Another puzzle solved!

Shit, a security camera. These things caused me so much misery in GoldenEye. Fortunately there's no enemies in this section so I can take my time, leaning around corners to shoot at them as they're facing away.

Clones... I hate these guys. They pour into the room one after another like idiots to the slaughter.

I'm a little fuzzy on who is and isn't a legitimate target in this place, so I'm going by the theory that if they're shooting me they're probably not on the side of the angels. It looks like I'm going to end up having to kill every identical twin working security in this place at this rate.

This puzzle tripped me up for a while. I knew the flask was important for something (my first clue was the bright green box around it), but I couldn't figure out what. Plus down the corridor there's a door that needs a fingerprint to unlock (and Bond's squeamish about cutting off fingers). Eventually though I remembered that I had this handy fingerprint scanner in my inventory (though the damn thing doesn't appear when I cycle through my equipment.)

Bond actually carries two phones in this, as he uses another one to access the game's menu screen (yep, just like with GoldenEye's watch.)

In the movie a scene plays out here in Lachaise's office involving an exploding gun, a man who appears out of nowhere, and a sniper. But the game cuts to the chase and kills off Lachaise almost immediately. The assassin calls security on me as she runs off, leaving me to escape out the window with the money. Level complete!


SOON.


Well, some stuff just happened in a cutscene, most of it bad, but now I get to chase the assassin in a speedboat!


LATER.


Uh, what happened to the gameplay? Not that I'm complaining, I'm happier watching the movie than I was playing the game, but it seems weird that a whole action scene is playing out here... and I don't get to take part in it.

At least I can't complain about it taking liberties with the film's plot. Just like the movie, Bond chases the assassin to the Millennium Dome, where she jumps off her boat and attempts to escape via a convenient hot air balloon.


LEVEL 2 - KING'S RANSOM.


Or not...

I guess she got lost while driving her boat to the large obvious balloon parked right alongside the water, and we're going to have to race there on foot instead.

Damn, if I'd known every building along the River Thames was filled with enemy goons this time of year I'd have stuck to the streets.

The combat feels much easier than in Tomorrow Never Dies, and I'm not sure whether it's because they've tweaked the mechanics, or just because of the first person perspective. The enemies definitely don't seem to zig-zag as much, and they've got the decency to give me a second to aim at them before shooting me this time.

Though I get the feeling that there's a hidden timer ticking away in the background as the assassin runs off, so I can't afford to play it cautiously.

Oh crap. Which ones are the enemies? Fuck it, I'm just going to make a run for it.

Son of a bitch, they're throwing grenades now? I wish these bastards would give me a break. I don't think there's any checkpoints in this, there's definitely no regenerating health, and I've got no interest in replaying it from the start again.

In the end though I actually made it through the whole level without getting blown up, and intercepted the assassin at the balloon. Which she then blew up in the air while I was hanging onto it, killing herself and sending me plummeting to the ground. Happy endings all round. Plus I didn't even get an opening credits movie afterwards.


Well it functions as a game, and it looks like it's making good use of the PlayStation's hardware, but as first person shooters go it ain't so great. And a lot of the blame for that goes to the controls. L2 and R2 are a pretty uncomfortable choice for strafe, especially on a DualShock compatible game released in 2000.




Game 21 - The World is Not Enough (2000)
Formats: Nintendo 64.

The N64 version of The World is Not Enough was made by a different developer, Eurocom, and it seems that they've done their own thing. Unsurprisingly for a cartridge game there's no video clips this time (or any kind of gun barrel scene), but it does have voices.

Wow, this version has Bond just walk straight up into Lachaise's office, skipping the PlayStation game's shoot out in the corridors. After that events play out much like they do in the film, though not in exactly the same order.

But then the cutscene ends without there being a suitcase of money on the table for me to grab. Looks like I'm going to have to go and look for it.

This controls so much better than the PlayStation version, I don't have to strafe with the bloody shoulder buttons anymore! I'm not saying the N64 pad is better for shooters than the DualShock, the game's just using it better.

In fact it all seems a lot like GoldenEye so far, which suits me just fine.

Oh awesome, just when I was starting to like the game. Okay fine, lesson learned, next time I wait for them to point a gun at me before I start firing back.


ONE RETRY LATER.


Oh come on, he had a gun! At least I think he had a gun.

It turns out that the way to get past this bit, was actually to put my gun away and walk right out the front door. These security guards apparently have no idea what just happened upstairs, and have no reason to bother me.

And then 007 gets into his sports car and speeds off. Not exactly how it went down in the movie, but I'm sure Bond would prefer it this way.

Uh, dude, there's a huge explosion right behind you. Seriously.

Poor Moneypenny, in the movie Bond gets her a cigar (which she immediately bins), but in this game he's brought back his evil henchmen problems instead. And now they've blown her bloody door off!

I definitely don't remember Bond fighting off a full scale invasion of MI6 in the film, though to be fair I'm not sure how could've turned the original 'run towards the vault and get an explosion in the face' scene into exciting first person shooter gameplay.

Oh come on, I just shot all the invaders over by M's office. Don't we have any security in this place?

Also, whoa look at the reflections on the floor, that's a bit of a smart-arse effect to pull off in an N64 game. A bit ambitious, considering the frame rate issues the system often suffers from. Though I guess we're being invaded by vampire henchmen, because their reflections are suspiciously absent.

Okay that just looks cool.

I wonder if it's a coincidence that a film and game featuring a plot to blow up a British government building were both released near to Guy Fawkes Night. Hmm, I think I'm going to have to go with 'Yes, of course it's a coincidence. Idiot'.

Wow, seriously. You're really going with 'Dr. Warmflash'? Somehow I bet this doctor isn't going to be a 50 year old man with a beard. And I thought 'Dr. Christmas Jones the nuclear physicist' was pushing it.

I went off and found the good doctor, but a stray enemy bullet in her direction during a firefight cost me the level, and I had to start again from the very beginning. There's no checkpoints, and definitely no mid-level saves. Man I hate escort missions.


ONE SUCCESSFUL OUTCOME LATER.


Okay this bit was actually halfway clever. The game gave me a perfectly sensible reason to go to Q branch, to hand over some evidence for testing, but once I got there Bond took over from me and jumped in this speedboat to chase that assassin instead.

A lot better than flashing up 'New mission objective: Head down to Q branch for no reason so Bond can see a boat and do something impulsive' I reckon.

Then there was a whole in-engine boat chase cutscene, as Bond chases that assassin to the Millennium Dome, but they still wouldn't let me take part in it. I'm only allowed to do the walking and the shooting it seems.

It took me ages to get this shot lined up right with the manual aiming feature, and even then I missed. I really need to work on my pistol sniping skills.

Damn, more civilians? Come on auto-aim, don't fail me now. Oh wait, I'm out of bullets? Damn, that means I'll have to switch away from my pistol again. It's always a shame when Bond has to switch to a machine gun. It feels like I've failed as a spy somehow.

Crap, don't tell me I have to deal with the police too now?

Uh, sorry mate but I can't marry you, I don't even know you! This probably happens to 007 more often than you might expect, as he struggles to drop each Bond girl before the start of the next movie. It's for their own good of course, as being in a relationship with Bond is almost invariably fatal if untreated.

It turns out the police have actually turned up here because those dastardly henchman have taken over one of the underground stations and planted a bomb. All this just to help one assassin escape? Couldn't they have just turned up with a car for her or something?

These two didn't read the sign.

Damn, this level is starting to remind me so much of Soldier of Fortune, though in a good way. I love train station levels in shooters and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's the shiny tiles...

Though I tend to like them better when I don't have a countdown timer in the bottom right corner reminding me that I'm stuck underground with a ticking time-bomb.

Damn that train's fast! It honestly scared the crap out of me when it shot past. So where the hell do I go now, this is a dead end.

Oh no. No no, don't tell me I have to go down the track. I don't wanna go down the track. There's like a 3 and a half second gap between the trains! Oh okay, fine, but this isn't going to end well.


SOME DARING ACTION MOVIE MOVES LATER.



BOOOOOOOOOOOM. Is what happened after this screenshot. Because I held the button down too long on the defusal device and set off the bomb early. Thanks game for giving me a little bomb defusing mini-game out of nowhere right near the end of a level, with no opportunity to practice. This right here is why I'm a generally big fan of quicksaves. Dumb situations like this.

I did actually complete the level in the end, but you know how it goes already. Balloon explodes, Bond falls, no one's very happy about it. Onto the next level etc.


You know, I think that the N64 version of World is Not Enough is fundamentally a better game than the PSX one, but it keeps trying to sabotage my enjoyment by throwing in civilians and time limits and stealth levels and escort missions and other ways to instantly fail. I lost so many missions so many times over while taking these shots, but besides that bomb I never once managed to get Bond killed. And that was self inflicted. To be honest I'm sick of it.

But the N64 game also has another advantage over the PlayStation game: it's got split screen multiplayer, GoldenEye style! With bots! Finally Bond fans get to play as characters such as 'Moneypenny', 'bank clerk', and 'that bloke played by Colin Salmon who always hangs around with M but I'm not sure ever got named on screen'. Though for some reason 'good' characters can't fight other good characters, so three out of four players would be stuck playing the villains. Which is of course really dumb.


Tune in again tomorrow for part 10: The World is Not Enough! Yes, there's a third game.

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