Tomorrow Never Dies
Bond, James Bond. Shaken, not stirred. These are the words of the legendary character we all know and love. Although it’s a lot of fun to watch the incredible exploits of this secret agent, wouldn’t it be much better to be 007? Well that’s exactly what you get to do in 007: Tomorrow Never Dies. The game’s leaflet sets the scene: Elliot Carver, a powerful media baron, is plotting to use his vast resources in the hopes of triggering an international conflict between Great Britain and China. Using any means necessary, you must expose this plan and prevent World War III. The world is counting on you.
The best word to describe the gameplay is FUN. There are two difficulty modes: Agent, which is great for novice players to get familiar with the game, and 007, where the enemies are stronger, smarter, and more skillful. I decided to try the Agent mode first and was glad for it, as I found the later levels to be very difficult. Did I mention this game is really three games in one: a skiing game, a shooting game, and a driving game. In the beginning you get to check out the shooting aspect, armed with your standard issue firearm the PK7. Walking around in a Tomb Raider kind of environment you attempt to accomplish the objectives which usually involve killing some folks, opening doors or boxes, and generally creating mayhem by blowing stuff to smithereens.
On certain levels you get different ultra-cool weapons which includes an assault rifle, an auto 9MM, gas bombs, an infrared sniper rifle, a rocket launcher, and more. You can probably accomplish all the levels using any of the weapons but some situations are better suited for a specific weapon than others. Although some of the weapons are more powerful and fire more quickly, the most versatile for any situation is the PK7. No wonder Bond never leaves home without it. Killing is very easy as long you’re somewhat facing the people you’re shooting. A red bulls-eye appears on the bad guy and after you get rid of them the bulls-eye automatically moves to the next person.
My favorite weapon is the sniper rifle. It is a blast to look through the scope and take a far off one-shot kill. If it is nighttime you get the infrared scope where you can see body heat and attempt to hunt people that way. With joy and rapture, I’d sneak in the darkness looking for body heat and snipering a leg sticking out from behind a tree or a head hovering above a wall. If you like to be a hard target to hit, the developers added the features to crouch, strafe, and roll. The controls are set up nicely although I found that I never really didn’t need to roll or crouch; instead I would just go in with my guns blazing. Not all is perfect in Bond world however. Walking up stairs is an easy task but walking back down can be a real chore as you’re unable to see where you’re going because of the point of view. Also, hitting the elevator buttons can be a nightmare if you’re under fire. Instead of letting you hit the button if you’re in the vicinity you must be exactly in front of the panel. What a pain if you’re a pixel or two off.
Not far into the game you get to check out the skiing aspect of the game. Although fun they could have done a better job here. The skiing part itself is fine, you can go fast by crouching low for less wind resistance and can try tripping the bad guys by sticking out your stick. Unfortunately, sticking out your stick doesn’t work that well and frankly it isn’t even worth your time as you’re better off to just crouch down and get to the bottom as fast as possible. I would have liked to be able to shoot while skiing or at least be able to come to a stop and shoot.
On some levels you will get to drive the BMW 750. This isn’t the normal 750 however because your resourceful co-worker Q has installed some machine guns and rocket launchers. Chasing the bad guys, you will attempt to gun them down while you avoid the nasty bombs they chuck at you. If you’re a good enough driver you can pick up medpacks and extra ammo. The car has pretty good control and it doesn’t take long to figure out a strategy for efficiently blowing up people.
The biggest downfall this game has is that there are only 10 levels. Most people will find that they can blow through the game in 5-6 hours and that they’ll never repeat the levels to try to get a higher score. Due to this, I think most people will want to rent the game for a weekend, conquer it, and then go on to the next.
Graphics & Audio
The graphics are decent. The frame-rate doesn’t ever drop to an annoying level and the graphics are detailed enough that I found myself spending a little extra time exploring the environment before I continued on to the next mission. The mountains can be a little confusing when you’re skiing down them and more than once I thought I was on the safe path when I found myself plunging to my death after I flew off an edge. The audio matches well with what is going on. For example, there are different sounds depending on if you’re shooting at a wood or metal box.
It’s worth mentioning one more time: this is a fun game. One of its biggest strengths is the variety it offers. Sometimes you get to shoot, other times ski or drive. If you’re in a Rambo kind of mood arm yourself with the assault rifle, otherwise use your standard PK7 to hunt down the enemy. Unfortunately there are only 10 levels and most people will find they can conquer the game over a weekend, so renting it is probably your best option.
Download Tomorrow Never Dies
The biggest news on the Tomorrow Never Dies front is the recently pushed-back release date. Now the game developed by Black Ops is coming our way in the second quarter of '99 instead of fourth quarter '98. Why? The answer is simple, according to a spokesperson for MGM Interactive, "Since this is the first Bond game on the PlayStation we want (Tomorrow Never Dies) to kick butt." MGM believes the extension will give the team that much more time to make the game amazing. But will the extra time do the trick? If the version we scoped at E3 is any indication of what's to come, then yes. The graphics in the latest revision look improved over old versions, and the overall feel is tight. What's more, TND looks quite original for using a license that can easily be corrupted.
Of course, Bond will do all kinds of interesting, action-packed things. Some that should make it into the final product are flying, driving, skiing, scuba diving and go on foot somewhat similar to GoldenEye. The game's story, believe it or not, starts where the movie Tomorrow Never Dies ends. Why such an unorthodox move? MGM and Black Ops know part of the fun of a James Bond film is discovery, so they want to have a story that allows the player to slowly piece together what's going on, figure out who the mastermind is, and then go save the world. If they simply made a game based on the movie's plot you'd know what's about to happen. From what Black Ops has told us, they want TND to stand on its own as a game first and foremost. The movie license comes second. Also note: Although the number of players in the box above only says one, there is talk of possibly including Multiplayer Modes by the time the game's released.
- MANUFACTURER - Black Ops
- THEME - ACTION
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
Yes, Tomorrow Never Dies was due well over a year ago. Now it's finally coming out, and nothing seems to be getting in the way this time around. It's funny how the same thing happened with GoldenEye on the N64. If you've seen the movie, you know basically how TND works--although there are a couple of story line bits different from the flick. The game is composed mostly of movie-inspired gameplay. Other original gameplay segments--though not from the film--fit into the Bond universe. Take the skiing segment where James battles his way down the slopes while faceless thugs ski after him for instance--it's classic Bond stuff you can't help but love. There are also a couple of driving segments.
There are plenty of missions to work through--more than 10 of them overall--filled with countless bad guys. Bond will make his way through the Hotel Atlantic, the Carver media center and the stealth boat in Ha Long Bay to name a few. There are a number of in-game cinematics within each of the missions which link gameplay segments together. You'll move from inside to outside, from foot to vehicle to foot again completing objectives and what not. Sometimes you have to sneak around, other times you simply get to blow stuff up. In one level in particular, you'll be able to play as Wai Lin, the Chinese agent who partnered with Bond in the film.
Obviously the gizmos, gadgets and weaponry are a major part of anything Bond-related, and the game isn't lacking in this area. You'll use Q-stuff like cufflink detonators, thumbprint scanners, a mysterious cell phone device and a whole lot more. Weapons include a number of guns and other toys like grenade launchers and proximity mines. There will be 12 to 16 total weapons by the time the game is done. One feature we'd like to point out: The action in TND freezes when you change weapons or items, so you'll suffer no penalty if you run out of ammo and need to switch to a different gun.
Surprisingly, the game will have no multiplayer support whatsoever. When asked why, an EA representative explained the focus on the one-player stuff would ensure the game's high level of fun.
GoldenEye 007 may have hit the Nintendo 64 a year late, but it turned out to be a better game than anyone expected. Now, Tomorrow Never Dies is hitting the PlayStation a year late--but that's where the similarities between these Bond games stop. TMD is a major disappointment. It does start off fine; early levels deliver intense, stealth-intensive gameplay that have more in common with Syphon Filter than Rare's N64 masterpiece. The music is excellent. And unlike most games that try to mix varied play styles, TMD does a decent job at giving you more to do than just shoot, sneak and snipe. The ski stages and Chase HQ-style driving level give TMD a true Bond-flick feel. But things start going sour during the game's second half. The visuals suffer more glitches (I've actually shot enemies through walls). Missions, which were better paced earlier in the game, become monotonous. The difficulty curve spikes way upward around level eight. And the frame-rate takes a turn for the super choppy during the final, 10th stage. Couple that with the already sluggish controls and you're in for some frustration. TMD just loses any sense of imagination toward its finale. The game's main adversary, for instance, can take a dozen grenades to the face before he falls. C'mon--he's a media mogul, not Iron Man. Lame.
When I was playing through Syphon Filter, I kept thinking that the engine would have made for a great Bond game. Now that the Bond game is here, it's a bit of a letdown. The problem is with the game's engine, which never ceased to piss me off. Slowdown, clipping, erratic camera in small enclosed places...all of it detracts from what could have been a really solid third-person shooter. Still, the minigames were fun, but few and far between.
Tomorrow Never Dies has all the components of a really cool third-person shooter, but somehow it just never comes together. The game starts off nicely, with a mixture of stealth and action missions, but by the second half, the seams begin to show. One gripe I had was with how the game handles targeting. It'll lock onto something, but as soon as you take off running, it's hard to keep a bead. Also, sniping in first person is awfully slow and clunky.
It's kinda like Syphon Filter only not as good...which would possibly be OK if you actually liked SF, and I didn't. Considering how long this has been in development, it's very disappointing--and hardly the PlayStation's answer to GoldenEye. I kinda dig the variety in the levels, and the 'James Bond-ness' of it all (especially the chases), but the controls suck, the graphics look terrible and the camera is nothing short of useless. Another wasted license.
The bad news that Tomorrow Never Dies was delayed until next year was neatly balanced by the good news that MGM Interactive is making some smart changes to the gameplay. Instead of a five games-in-one approach, TND will deliver mostly GoldenEye-style action on foot, interspersed with Road Rash-style vehicle combat on skis, in cars, and underwater.
Two years ago, James Bond blasted his way into Nintendo 64 superstardom with GoldenEye 007 Now his sights are set on the PlayStation with a game version of the last Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies.
For Your PlayStation Only
Most of TND's 10-plus objective-based missions feature 3D action similar to Syphon Filters. Using a third-person perspective, you can run, strafe, sneak, roll, and even fight hand-to-hand. You can also switch to a sniper-style targeting view on the fly, and your character automatically becomes translucent during close-quarter combat (to eliminate any visual obstructions). Although each mission has various objectives, you can complete them in any order; plus, several missions mirror scenes from the Bond movie (like the Arms Bazaar and Carver Media Center).
License to Thrill...or be Thrilled
Although the star of the game, Bond isn't a one-man show. At certain points, you'll play as Wei Lin, the Chinese agent. And TND features a two-player split-screen deathmatch mode in addition to its one-player game.
TND is also planning to avoid some typical action-game pitfalls (like stupid enemies) with its ramped-up A.I. According to EA, enemies will investigate strange sights and sounds and skillfully attack during combat. Cool little touches will abound, too: For example, your character will limp if he takes a lot of damage.
View to a Kill
For those who like their action shaken and stirred, TND offers plenty of diversity. Along with the weapons action, you'll take to the slopes, fend off enemies with your ski poles (a la Road Rash), and get behind the wheel of a car for some high-speed driving.
No Bond game would be complete without a plethora of cool gadgets (courtesy of the sharp-tongued "Q"), and TND's no slacker: Tracking devices, satellite link-up cameras, and exploding cufflinks are just some of the cool items you can use. The game has its share of "regular" weaponry, too. Besides your trusty Walther PPK, you can acquire an AK-47, M-16, and a sniper rifle that lets you zoom in on distant targets.
After a huge success with GoldenEye, 007's turning to the PlayStation with Tomorrow Never Dies. Although the Bond license is the only connection between the two games, TND already looks like a promising 3D actionfest--especially since it's being developed by Black Ops, the creative force behind acclaimed titles like Black Dawn. TND's plot picks up where the movie ended as Bond must squelch a world-domination scheme devised by Elijah Carver, brother of the flick's dethroned media mogul. The gameplay will attempt to bring to life all the glamorous action of the Bond films as the player will pursue bad guys in scuba gear, on skis, behind the wheel of a car, and on foot. If all that variety meshes well, TND could pack the same adrenaline-drenched punch of its cinematic counterpart.