RICH PELLEY goes dizzy over the latest batch of Codies games and JON PILLAR has quite a bit of trouble getting a word in edgeways.
Reviewer: Rich Pelley
Did you know that the 00 in 007 actually means licence to kill? Oh, you did. But it still brings us neatly onto the film tie-in of the latest Bond game, featuring 007 who, as we now all know, is in fact licenced to kill. Handy, really, because killing is what you spend most of your time doing during the game.
Once again, Domark have opted for the multi-parter (but impressively not multiloader) shoot-'em-up. Part 1 has you flying up-screen in a helicopter, blasting things on the ground and hopefully not flying into any buildings whilst you're at it. Complete this, and Part 2 is more shoot-'em-up stuff, this time at ground level on foot, involving you shooting baddies. One nice touch (but which makes things harder) is that instead of simply firing straight, you're given a gunsight which can be rotated around.
Level 3 sees you having to attach a tow-rope to the back of a moving helicopter or something - Dr B didn't make it too clear in his review (where he scored it 79°), and I haven't had a chance to, er, check out this level yet (which is followed by a few more in which James does a spot of swimming water-skiing and blowing up army trucks).
All the other Bond licences before this one have been rubbish, but not so here. Each part is a good little game in itself - totally unoriginal of course, but certainly worth the 50p which is effectively what you're paying. And as they are neatly tied together, the prospect of a completely different level once you've completed the last will keep you playing as well. Er, right. Why not buy it then?
Coming, erm, now actually, to a cinema near you...
THE COMPLETE YS GUIDE TO FILM AND TELLY GAMES
Knowing full well what a square-eyed bunch you are, we thought it was about time you were given the facts on film and television licenced games. Once again, JONATHAN DAVIES was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
(Cough. Deep, manly voice.)
'In the beginning there were loads and loads of Speccy games. Loads of them. They sold all right, but not exactly in enormous numbers. The trouble was, you see, that none of them seemed particularly exciting. They had nothing that caught the public eye. They were just computer games. Had no 'cred'.
Then a small cog within a long-since-extinct software house had an idea.
"Why don't we give our next game the same name as an incredibly popular film? Then everyone would buy it just because they'd seen the film and they'd foolishly think the game would be just as good. How about i, eh?"
"Er, we could do, I suppose."
"But what if the film company finds out? They might sue us or something."
"I know - we could ask them first."
"That's a point. Go on then."
"Yeah. Give them a ring and ask if they'd mind."
"Oo-er. Cripes. Okay then." (Dials very long trans-Atlantic phone number.)
"Hullo. We'd like to name our new game after your film and we were wondering if it was okay by you. Right... yes... oh, I see." (Cups hand over receiver.) "They want us to give them lots of money."
"Erm, well in that case we'd better." (Removes hand.) "Yes, that'll be fine. We'll send you some right away. Bye."
"How are we going to come up with a game that's anything like the film?"
"I don't know really."
"How about if we have a bloke walking around shooting people?"
"That sounds fine. I'll program it right away."
And so the film and telly licence was born. It... cough. Choke.
Oops. There goes the deep, manly voice.
Anyway, film and telly games, eh? Everyone's doing them these days, as they're one of the few remaining ways of making serious money with computer games. Run a grubby finger down the charts and you'll find nearly all the top-sellers are film and telly licences. (Or arcade conversions, of course.)
But why do we keep buying them? After all, just because a game's named after a really brill film doesn't mean it's going to be any good, does it? Surely we aren't buying them simply because of the flashy name on the box?
Erm, well in the old days, software houses assumed this to be the case, and chucked out a stream of absolutely appalling games with 'big name' titles. Things like Miami Vice, The Dukes Of Hazard and Highlander were all pretty dreadful, but it was hoped that they'd sell on the strength of their names. But we weren't fooled. Oh no. The games didn't sell well, and the companies were forced to think again.
Eventually they came up with... the 'bloke walking around shooting things' idea. And they've used it more or less ever since. Lucky then that they tend to be jolly good all the same, and sometimes come up with the odd original idea to spice things up (like The Untouchables did, or perhaps Back To The Future Part II).
As always seems to be the case, the trusty YS ratings system doesn't really seem adequate when it comes to film and telly games. So here's what we've put together instead...
What does it look like? Nice? Or not very nice at all? (You mean are the graphics any good? Ed) Er, yes. That's it in a nutshell. (Then why didn't you just say the first place? Ed) Erm...
How does the general atmosphere compare to the film or telly programme the game's meant to go with? Have programmers just taken a bog-standard game and stuck a flashy name on it? Or have they made an effort to incorporate a bit of the 'feel' of the original?
Does the plot follow along the same sort of lines as the film or telly programme? Is there plenty action-packedness? And is the game the same all way through, or does it follow the original's twists and turns?
Um, how does the game compare to all the licences around at the moment? Is it better? Or worse? In other words, is it a 'cut' above the rest? (is that really the best you can manage? Ed)
LICENCE TO KILL
Domark didn't have much luck with their early Bond games. They weren't desperately bad, but the programming smacked of amateurism and they were generally considered to be wasted opportunities. What those first games had though, which Licence To Kill doesn't, is a reasonable level of originality. They were multiloaders with several very different (if slightly crap) levels, while this one is more of a vertically-scrolling shoot-'em-up with very minor differences between levels.
There are flying levels, driving levels, walking levels and even swimming levels. They're all vertically-scrolling. And they're all quite good. Yes, although it's not brilliant, this Bond game has at least been properly put together. The graphics are fine, it plays quite well and ties in with the film pretty convincingly. But it's still only 'quite' a good film game. It proves Domark can program properly if they really try, but it doesn't really further the cause of licences by extracting much inspiration from the film.
£9.99 cass/£14.99 disk
Reviewer: Marcus Berkmann
The names Berkmann, Dr Berkmann. Enormous weapon and licence to review. Hey, did you know that this film was originally going to be called Licence Revoked, but had to be changed to its present title because not enough Americans knew what revoked means? HAHAHAHAHA. It's true.
I've always felt a bit sorry for those Domark boys with their Bond games. I mean every time a new Bond movie comes out, you know sure as knees are knobbly that it'll be about a femtosecond before the Speccy version is out, with loads of posters, amazing packaging and a completely crap game inside. Trouble is, now everyone thinks that every Bond game is going to be a pile of jobbies, so it doesn't matter how brillsvile it turns out to be - no-ones going to want to know.
They deserve it, of course. A View To A Kill was dreadful, Living Daylights wasn't much better, and the other one was so bad I can't even remember its name.
Still, its a bit of a pity, because, this time, they've been and gorn and done it. Against all expectations, Licence To Kill is a pretty nifty game.
Now, it ain't original. Countless vertically scrolling shoot 'em ups from Commando on are the clear inspiration, with the multi-mode sophistication of Vindicator an obvious recent model. But Licence To kill obviously has to link in with with the plot of the film, and that Domark has done very well. All sorts of action sequences have been plucked from the movie and transferred. So for instance there's the exciting helicopter chase, as Bond and Felix "Is that a face lift or what?" Leiter chase Sanchez and his extremely fruity girlfriend (slaver drool slurp) in their jeep. There's the bit when Bond hangs from the 'copter trying to clamber onto Sanchez's plane, and then there's the... what? Haven't you seen the fillum? Clot. Go and see it right now.
Anyway, it all adds up to some action-packed nonsense which whiles away the time quite nicely - and that applies to both film and game. There are six sections, all slightly different, but all in the same vertically scrolling mould. First up is the helicopter bit. There you are, chasing Sanchez and trying to avoid being shot down by the various gun emplacements along the way. Well, anyone who's played Vindicator or a trillion other games will know what to do - shoot up those gun emplacements. But be careful too not to crash into any buildings along the way. If you feel like just whizzing past and trying to dodge the bullets, you can accelerate and take your chances.
This, though, is one of those gamelets which depends on knowing your terrain. At first it's pretty tricky but with practice becomes easier - and any damage you sustain is not carried over into the next section (although lost lives are).
Next up, Bondy's on foot. Shaken (but thankfully not stirred) by a number of explosions going on around him, he dodges bullets and tries to knockk off his many assailants. Unfortunately those oil drums he keeps standing behind have a tendency to blow up, which makes this section a good deal trickier than it may first appear. You can shoot only in one direction, although by holding down the fire button you can change that direction. As most of the baddies come from above, you'll soon find that shooting straight ahead is your best option for staying alive. This is definitely the best section of the game - getting through it is a genuine challenge.
And the next one please. In Part Three, Bond finds himself lowered by rope from the helicopter as his enemy Sanchez tries to zip off to Cuba in his aircraft to stock up on cigars. You're guiding the chopper (oo-er) and the idea is to get as close to the back of the aircraft as poss so that Bondy can, attach the towrope to it (yo ho ho). Difficult. Especially as you lose control through the clouds.
That's as nothing, though, to the next sequence, which finds Bond going for a quiet swim and accidentally on purpose running into some drug smugglers. They start chasing him, but not terribly efficiently it seems, because he's perfectly capable of evading them if he's clever. Dive below the surface, and mere are divers chasing you (and of course you can only hold you're breath for so long...). Glub along on the surface again and you could be shot by the baddies on the boats. Needs good judgement!
And so it goes on. In fact there are two more sections to play, one in which you try your hand at a bit at water ski-ing, and the last in which you've got to blow up an army of trucks in an attempt to rid Sanchez of his drugs stash. But try as I might, I haven't managed to get that far yet! I will, I will...
Yeah, it's good. Not as good as Sean Connery but better than George Lazenby. And it's streets ahead - towns, even - of Domark's previous Bond releases. As Q would say, "Now pay attention, 007..." - (Eh? Ed)
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