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Tomorrow Never Dies leaves you shaken, if not stirred

December 2, 1999
Web posted at: 2:47 p.m. EST (1947 GMT)

by Uncle Dust

Action Shots

(IDG) -- When is a sequel not a sequel? When it has the same lead character, but a different developer and publisher, and plays differently on an entirely different console. Such is the case with James Bond's latest foray into the videogame world, Electronic Arts' Tomorrow Never Dies.


First things, first. One thing has to be made perfectly clear. This PlayStation game is not the sequel to the amazingly popular N64 title Goldeneye. Tomorrow Never Dies has no multi-player option (the best part of the N64 game) and it's a third-person shooter, like Syphon Filter, not the first person perspective of Goldeneye. So get that out of your head right now.

TND does have the gameplay you would expect from a Bond title -- plenty of stealth and espionage, and even more gun-blazing action. You loosely follow the storyline of the movie as you only walk, ski, and drive your BMW through ten objective-based missions. You can even play as Bond's partner Wai Lin, if you get to the ninth mission. And you will, rather quickly.

That's where the problems set in.

The gameplay itself is rather easy and straightforward, the mission puzzles almost unravel themselves, and the auto-aiming function makes TND a shootout rather than a test of stealth and sharp shooting. This is made worse by the suddenly-appearing enemies, whose confusing and erratic AI makes them difficult to target at times. These are not the smartest enemies around. The bosses are also surprisingly easy to beat, so if you fancy yourself much of a gamer, play TND at the hardest difficulty level.

License to frill

TND's graphics look pretty good from the onset. The character models and the levels are all nicely designed, but the graphical quirks start adding up and chipping away at the glossy exterior. Several collision problems occur throughout the game, from Bond getting into an area he can't move out of and other characters (including the bosses) getting stuck in walls. Also, the game has a short range of visibility, so you'll take a lot of damage from seemingly out of nowhere.

But the biggest graphical glitch is the perspective. It's a third-person shooter until you get into a tight space, at which point Bond becomes transparent and the camera shifts to a pseudo first-person viewpoint. It may sound like a good idea, but every time you back into a wall, you become confused and take damage while you sort it out. Tomorrow never dies, but Bond isn't invincible.

The famous Bond theme music, the title track by Sheryl Crow, and the symphonic score sound great, most of the time. Sometimes in the heat of battle the music and gunshots just cut out intermittently, so some guy could be unloading his AK47 into your back and it'd take you a few seconds of massive damage to realize it. Big problem.

The controls are quite good, though. You strafe, snipe, duck, roll, use gadgets, and blast away with a natural ease. Only the auto-aim and shifting perspective are less than perfect. The driving and skiing sequences, however, aren't as smooth but are still plenty competent.

Tomorrow is not enough

Unfortunate comparisons to Goldeneye will probably occur, and to that Tomorrow Never Dies is an inferior game. But on its own TND gives you great Bond-style thrills in a less-than-polished package. It's fun while it lasts, though, so make sure you play it at the most challenging level.

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Pro Tips

  • When skiing, watch the edges of the mountain, they may be covered with med kits, but it'll cost you a life every time you slip off the edge. It's better to play it safe and avoid them.

  • In the Arms Bazaar, blow up a crate with a mine to reveal the helicopter to photograph. Before you enter the area, strafe back and forth to shoot the guards inside.

  • While in the printing press in Hamburg, take cover behind the large rolls of paper. Use sniper-mode and take out all of the guards that fire at you from above.

  • On the Saigon Marketplace mission, make sure you first take out any guards before you battle the boss with the bazooka or the helicopter.

  • On the final board, you can kill the final two bosses (Elliot Carver and his henchman) without even getting near them. Hide behind boxes shoot at them from a safe distance.

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