Black Ops

Electronic Arts


Tomorrow Never Dies Review

By: John Doe

For those looking for the PlayStation equivalent of GoldenEye, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is, Tomorrow Never Dies isn't it. The good news is, EA's other shooter of November, Medal of Honor, is. Bond fans will undoubtedly be disappointed with this one.


You can't blame Black Ops for trying, but look at what they were up against; their game against the juggernaut known as GoldenEye. Who the heck could beat that? You might say that we are talking about apples and oranges here but unfortunately this game has so many GoldenEye overtones that it's hard not to draw comparisons between the two games. What made GoldenEye a smash was not the license. We all know that a licensed game has more knocks against it then an original property. GoldenEye was a million seller because it had great graphics, excellent AI, amazing collision detection, innovative gameplay for a first-person shooter and amazing multi-player capabilities. The aforementioned qualities are missing in Tomorrow Never Dies making it nothing more than your standard third-person shooter.

Graphically this game is very blotchy. From the choppy framerate to the rough look of the graphics, TND ends up looking sub-par. If you look at a game like Soul Reaver, you'll know what the aging PlayStation hardware is capable of pulling off, and TND is light-years away from that spit and polish. Tie in the choppy animation with touchy control, and Mr. Bond will navigate the environments as though he's had a few martinis over the legal limit. The poor S.O.B. can't even enter a doorway without smashing into the doorframe. License to kill, eh? And what's with the limited number of moves? Bond is limited to crouching, strafing, shooting and a roll move that looks like it's in slow mo, rendering it useless. He can't climb, jump, backflip, crawl or dive (although the back of the case says that he can dive). So basically you have the limited controls of a first person shooter within the space of a third-person action title. This doesn't work at all. Heck, even first person characters can jump, just look at Turok. If Bond could scurry on his belly while crawling under a truck, that would be something. The game even teases you with places you think you could hide under, or vehicles you think you could drive...but again, nothing. Walk, crouch and shoot. Whoopee.

The games camera likes to pull back when you are against a wall or too close to an enemy, which disorients you once you move away from the object. Walking up and down stairs is a nightmare and many will die just trying to get to the bottom of a lookout tower before the enemies surround you, because you must ascend and descend in a first person viewpoint. I hate dying because of camera control, don't you?

The levels are mission based and you'll have to complete the various objectives before moving on. Remember to check your inventory at the beginning of each new level, because you will have probably been given a new item that you will have to use to complete the mission. The mission objectives aren't all that difficult until later in the game allowing you to progress through the game at a good pace. A lot of the levels rely on you finding keys, pushing buttons for elevators or meeting with various cohorts. A really nice feature is the ability to continue right where you died from instead of restarting the mission over. Bless you for that Black Ops. You can even find 1-ups and medi-paks scattered throughout the levels to help you along.

Musically this game sounds identical to GoldenEye to me. Basically the tunes are re-hashes of Bond tunes, so what more can I say? They are good and work well within the parameters of the game. The sound effects are also the usual fare; a lot of different "bang-bang"noises and explosions.

The enemy AI is a huge disappointment. These guys don't even know that they should stop rappelling down the rope of helicopter while you are standing at the bottom shooting them as they descend. Duh. As well, when you make your way up to a manned lookout tower, they will wait until you are facing them before taking action. In that time it takes nothing to blast them to a better place. If you shoot a guard or lob a grenade to take some out, the other guards don't seem to care that something just blew up. They are about as uninterested as teenagers working a retail job on a Saturday night. Innocent workers that show up in later levels actually walk until they hit a wall and then turn. Smart. The enemy sports a decent form of collision detection, which means if shot in the leg, they will react accordingly. Unfortunately though, they are only inconvenienced for a few seconds by a shotgun blast to the leg, thereby promptly recovering and hell-bent on taking you out. That doesn't seem real... The last time I was shot in the back of a leg with a shotgun at point blank range, I cried for 8 years straight.

To spice things up, Bond can also ski down hills and drive his little BMW-750. The skiing level is ludicrous. All of a sudden the game turns into Road Rash on skis. Bond can only hit the bad-guys out of the way, while heading down the mountain. Here's an idea; why don't the bad guys save their energy and their lives and just wait for Bond at the bottom of the mountain? Oh wait, these are the same guys who were fighting to get out of the helicopter so they could be shot at point blank range...right. Never mind. The Convey level, has the inevitable rendezvous with gadget guru extraordinaire, Q, and features Bond racing along taking out the bad guys with his new toy. Even the change of pace of this level doesn't help things. Most will make it through on their first try as it hardly presents a challenge. So much more could have been done with these levels that they hardly seem worth the effort once you've played them.

If you have to play this game, by all means go for it. Personally, I'm engrossed in Medal of Honor, which is four times the game this is. After waiting for this one for so long it's quite unfortunate that it didn't amount to more. Rent this one and see if it's your cup of tea, but if you've been nursed on GoldenEye, you won't stick around long enough to see the opening credits.






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