Following up on his most fascinating Video Games of Bond Series, Matthew Grice revisits 4 Bond games of yesteryear from his childhood. Matthew offers his personal recollections of these games, and I think many of us will remember having played a few of them ourselves. If you have any personal memories of playing these video games, make sure to let us know in the comments or on the FB page. If you haven’t read Part 1 of this series, you can do so here.
Tomorrow Never Dies
Electronics Arts released their very first Bond game Tomorrow Never Dies in November of 1999. Unfortunately for me this was only ever released on the Sony PlayStation, and since my father was a Nintendo fan I never got to own one. Even though I never owned the Sony Playstation video game for Tomorrow Never Dies, I can remember my Uncle having received it as a gift from his fiancé at the time who absolutely hated James Bond with passion. Why she bought him Tomorrow Never Dies came as a complete shock to us all, especially after she made it quite clear that she hated Bond during Christmas of 1997 when we all decided to watch Goldeneye and she solemnly refused to watch it by spending the whole 2 hours of the film in the kitchen washing and drying up the crimbo pots and pans.
The benefit of having an uncle with this video game gave me the brief opportunity to play it. It was a long time ago, but I remember the game was a third person shooter with voices to accompany the characters. This was a feature absent from Goldeneye64. The main advantage of a third person shooter is that you could see Brosnan’s likeness as the character of Bond while you play. In all honesty I think I was expecting the gameplay to be similar to Goldeneye but with this game having been produced for a different gaming platform and published by a different company, the outcome was altogether different.
I can remember vaguely playing the pre-credit levels that involved Bond skiing. Of course this was never seen in the film, yet this game also included interludes of key footage from the actual film. Not only did the third person effect make it different from Goldeneye64 but it also allowed the player to play as Wai Lin aside from playing as Bond. I never got that far into the game to do that, however, I sometimes now have the temptation to buy a PlayStation just relive the game. Whether the one and only would allow it is something else.
The development for Tomorrow Never Dies is interesting though as it originally was intended for the game to be a sequel to the film. It was said to ‘start where the film ends’. It is believed that there was a trailer showing Bond skiing, scuba diving and driving in both third person and first person perspective. This was intended for PlayStation as well as for the PC, and was due to come out in the fall of 1998 developed by MGM Interactive before Electronic Arts acquired the licence the following year.
With me not ever owing this game and having had only a limited amount of playtime on it I can never remember if I liked it or not. At the time I only thought “wow, a Bond game!” and liked the fact that it followed the film (why would it not). Reading reviews and how well the game was received by the public definitely had a different outcome to what Goldeneye 64 had. I liked it because I saw this as a start of releasing the video games to coincide with Bond films that followed, but Tomorrow Never Dies just didn’t live up to the same mark as Goldeneye64. Whether this was due to awkward controls, third person or lack of multiplayer I don’t know, but the following Bond game would definitely address these shortcomings.
The World Is Not Enough
In November 2000 Electronics Arts released their second Bond game The World Is Not Enough based on the film. It was released on multiple platforms including PlayStation, Nintendo64, and Gameboy Colour. After realising that Tomorrow Never Dies failed to sell as much as they had hoped, Electronic Arts decided to follow in the footsteps of Goldeneye64 and adapt it as a first person shooter while also introducing a multiplayer option exclusive to the Nintendo edition.
Whether I had asked for this for Christmas 2000 or my father had I cant remember, but we definitely had it for the Nintendo. Unlike Goldeneye 64 I can never remember ever completing it and can’t remember much about it apart from the fact that the boat chase down the Thames had been completely ruined, especially as this was my favourite bit of the film and was really looking forward to experiencing this in gaming form. Instead I think this scene was cut short and didn’t even give you the opportunity to drive the boat but instead you had to go in a public toilet to defuse a bomb. I just hope that this was down to the fact that redeveloping the boat chase for a computer game thirteen years ago was impossible because any other excuse would be unacceptable. On a good note they did manage to create the bankers office that was seen briefly before the boat chase.
The PlayStation version did include film footage at the beginning and end of a level, similar to that of Tomorrow Never Dies. I think my father explained that was only possible on a disc and not a cartridge that the Nintendo’s where known for.
Like Tomorrow Never Dies, Electronic Arts brought back voice acting for the characters, which as I said was a feature absent from Goldeneye64. It is interesting to note that it was only John Cleese who provided a voice for his character. Other people dubbed the other characters. Adam Blackwood who provided the voice of James Bond in the previous Bond game returned in The World Is Not Enough and went on to provide the voice for Bond in EA’s next two Bond games. I’d love to play this game again to complete it, and at the same time laugh my head off intensely at how crude the graphics look compared to today’s standard of gaming.
The World Is Not Enough was planned for PlayStation 2 and PC but was cancelled. With what I understand I think The World Is Not Enough was a bigger hit than Tomorrow Never Dies. This could have been because it was released on just more than one gaming platform and with it being first person shooter and including a multiplayer mode may have helped.
Days after The World Is Not Enough was released on PlayStation, Nintendo and Gameboy colour Electronic Arts released 007 Racing only for the PlayStation. Again this was a shame for me as I only had a Nintendo. I don’t even think my lovely uncle had this to accompany Tomorrow Never Dies.
If memory serves me well it wasn’t until late 2004 or early 2005 that my father and I went half’s on a PlayStation 2. Why exactly he bought one I can’t remember. It could have been so he could dig his paws into the world of Final Fantasy, but I can remember that this game console resided in my parent’s bedroom. Whilst half owning a Playstion2, this would have been ideal to buy Tomorrow Never Dies, but instead I never did as I was intrigued to know what 007 Racing was like.
Well all I can remember is not getting past the first level in the Aston Martin DB5 and probably giving up. The objective was to blow up things that were in your way and get somewhere within a certain amount of time. What year I bought this I don’t know, but I may have been out and about a lot and just didn’t have time to sit on the edge of my parent’s bed playing it on an old Daewoo TV set. I can remember the controls being awkward and just not getting use to it as I was bought up with Nintendo Consoles. To have a PlayStation in the house was probably as odd has having somebody go up to you and greet you with ‘Do you know where my stop cock is’.
The bonus is that I still have the game but doesn’t seem compatible with the PlayStation 3 console.
With what I can remember you were behind the wheel of vehicles such as the Aston Martin DB5, Lotus Esprit and BMW Z8 plus several others. You had M who was voiced by someone other than Dame Judi Dench (Caron Pascoe who would go on to do voice work for Agent Under Fire) giving you mission details and John Cleese voicing R. There was a rumour that a sequel was planned for the PlayStation 2 but that never came to fruition.
Agent Under Fire
Electronic Arts released their second original Bond game for the PlayStation in 2001. Fond memories recall seeing this advertised on television and a fellow friend having this on PlayStation. The hours of fun I had, not just playing the game but also just generally laughing at things – mainly people from school and pervy bus drivers. This was a friend who lived at the village farm, and I sadly lost touch with him as we left school. A shame because he enjoyed the Bond films as much as I did, and he thought Casino Royale (2006) was fantastic. I would love to have know his thoughts on the Bond films that followed. I do however see his father occasionally who does have a collection of Corgi toys in a box. I can always remember seeing the gold Aston Martin that was released to celebrate 30 years of Goldfinger!
It wasn’t until June 2002 that Agent Under Fire was released for the Nintendo GameCube and X Box for the European market. I didn’t receive this game until the following month for my 16th birthday. This was when I finally appreciated the game and could complete the game without any distractions of laughing hysterically at people from school and pervy bus drivers.
I only just re-played this game about three years ago and even then found it just as easy as the first time I played it, compared to the following EA games. When I first played it this was when I was probably at the peak of my Bond fandom, as I was clearly obsessed with the Bond legacy. I just dreamed about it being a film, with Steve McFadden (Phil from EastEnders) playing the villain. I also took a dab had adapting it to fan fiction. Don’t think it made it past its first chapter. Overall I think the story was good although it did feature the subject of cloning full-grown humans. Leaders that attend a G8 summit to be precise! Whether its plausible in 2013 I doubt it but maybe its something that I’m sure is possible for the future.
To say Peirce Brosnan was James Bond at the time, he unfortunately doesn’t star in Agent Under Fire. This could have been due to the same problem that John Cleese had that involved licencing issues. The voice of Bond was done by two people Andrew Bicknall and Adam Blackwood. Andrew Bicknall appeared in The Trial of Tony Blair and also lent his voice in the Tomorrow Never Dies video game.
Caron Pasco supplied the voice of M as she had in the previous game. She had also given her voice to Dr Christmas Jones in EA’s adaption of The World Is Not Enough and 007 Racing. It is nice to know that not only do the people who work on the Bond films reunite as another Bond film is in production, but also the people who work on the games as well.
Agent Under Fire began its infancy as an early attempt at bringing The World Is Not Enough to PlayStation 2, hence why as a player you can get behind the wheel of the BMW Z8.
Overall this is a game that I enjoyed playing as it was relatively easy to complete the 12 missions and it had everything that you would expect in a Bond film, but in 2002 EA went up a gear with the following adventure. . .
The Video Games of James Bond Will Return…
article by Matthew Grice