Bond-wise Domark didn't have much to live up to with The Living Daylights.
A View to a Kill was commonly regarded as, if not an unmitigated disaster, at least a mitigated one.
On the other hand, after Trivial Pursuit, Domark suddenly won itself a reputation for putting out good games. Would Daylights be any good? Read on...
PLOT AND STRUCTURE
Plot follows the film pretty closely in that you can more or less relate sections of one with bits of the other. This is partly because like View to a Kill, Living Daylights is split into a number of distinct sections each based around a scene from the movie.
On the other hand it so happens that each of these sections can be reduced to dodging and firing just like every other completely animated-to-James-Bond run-of -the-mill computer game you ever saw.
Actually looking at the game, it is some of the bizarre setting and odd characters that really suggest that this is a game based on something else, ie, the movie.
Who is that sprite that runs along with Bond in Level 2? Actually he is Koskov the Russian defector as it happens but it doesn't make the slightest difference to the game. Why does one of the bad guys look like a milkman? Same reason, same irrelevance.
The most distinctive thing you first discover about the game is its structure. Like A View to a Kill, the Living Daylights is really a compendium of smaller games, eight in fact. Each one reflecting a different section of the film's plot.
Each of the levels is preceded by a section in which you must choose a weapon from a selection of four, which you think will best help you on that level. This is a matter of intelligent guesswork mostly. Could the Bazooka be used against the Helicopter? This bit does, I suppose, introduce some strategy into the game but only until you make the right guess - then you know forever.
1 Gibraltar: It must be Gibraltar because it says so but anyway it's a leafy, rocky, foresty kind of place where you, as Bond, run along jumping boulders and trying to hit SAS men with shots from your paint gun (this is a training exercise).
However, it turns out one of the SAS is a grade 1 baddy and to deal with him you'll have to exchange your paint gun for some more serious ballistics. Get past the SAS bullets and kill the bad guy. Jump rocks. IMPORTANT CLUE: the baddy will be singularly unimpressed if you try to get rid of him using your paint gun.
2 The Music Conservatory: A change of back-drop and Bond runs along shortly joined by another sprite. Snipers try to blow you away and you can either fire back at them using a target cursor or (a far better ploy I found) run away as fast as possible. If you do fire back be careful not to hit the innocent music goers (who are probably already having a hard enough time with wheel clampers.)
3 The Pipeline: A large number of pipes in this one. Don't let metal fall on your head and leap over and under various pipe-like obstacles in your path. Who's that man with you? It's Koskov of course. Does he do anything? No.
4 The Mansion House: Watch out for the frenzied milkman who is chucking.things at you (dodge) and there's a helicopter dropping enormous bombs in your path. Run very fast wherever you can, kill the various milkmen as quickly as possible (good playing tips, huh?)
5 The Fairground: Set in a fairground surprisingly. Shoot the balloons. Yep, that's it.
6 Tangiers: Runny jumpy over the exotic rooftops which are also well supplied with armed guards longing to kill you. Kill them first.
7 The Military Complex: Helicopters and bikes! And people throwing things at you!! And more shooting... you get the idea.
8 The Base: Last screen, Whittaker is the ultra baddy dodge everything that gets chucked your way and kill him thereby saving the world yet again.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
Not bad actually At least Bond doesn't look so much like a ballet dancer this time. On the other hand he doesn't look much like James Bond either just some ordinary bloke...
Animation is goodish - some nice leaps and tumbles and a realistic running motion. Backgrounds are pretty detailed though some levels look better than others - Level 1 is impressive, Level 6 a bit of a dodo.
For 48K the sound is astonishingly good, astonishingly astonishing even. But naturally you don't get the nifty 'one channel pretending to be the London Philharmonic Orchestra' stuff.
The big one. It turns out the game is surprisingly good fun to play. The first level is very difficult - the next two easier and after that it gets harder and harder.
Although really The Living Daylights is eight little games in one the way energy levels are carried over from section to section makes for at least some sense of continuity. I spent many hours with an irritable attack of the just-one-more-goes.
The Living Daylights is not earth shattering - but it's quite good. In no respect is it a dodo and in a sound and the all-important gameplay it is really quite impressive. For those peculiar people who might actually buy a game because of the film it is linked with - well at least they aren't ripped off.
For those who couldn't care less about the film tie-in aspect, Living Daylights rates a look. Domark's reputation looks like surviving to fight another day (skin of teeth though, lads).
Author: Design Design
Reviewer: Graham Taylor
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