Well, now that that’s out of the way, we can discuss 1999’s 007: Tomorrow Never Dies, in which James Bond skis, teabags, and YouTubes his way to victory. I think that may not be 100% accurate.
I’ll back up a bit. I feel the need to start mixing these posts up a bit, straying away from a strict “general overview” to include a bit more of that specific session. Playing a game more than once would result in six “Controls bad, I like the movie tho” posts, and that just completely ignores some of the outright hilarious, bullshit, or bizarre things that I stumble across during individual streams. I’ll try to include more of that in the recaps moving forward.
Tomorrow Never Dies…there’s not a whole lot to say about it, really. If I were to use a single word to describe it, it would be “unremarkable”. This is a textbook example of what I’m talking about when I say that good OR bad games are interesting, but mediocre ones exist in a dead zone where I just can’t begin to care. To be fairly honest, it somehow manages to come off like a budget Syphon Filter clone, which is puzzling as the games came out within ten months of each other. A third-person shooter/action game, the player is controlled through a combination of the left analog stick (the right one is ignored, as nearly all PlayStation games are wont to do) and L2/R2 buttons for strafing left and right. This control scheme…I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am to see it gone. It’s like taking your clothes down to the river to launder them on a washboard: an unfortunate bit of our past that has been outright eliminated by modern convenience. The experience of trying to get Bond to move in any precise direction is not unlike a snake weaving back and forth, slowly moving across the desert sands, which is to say, expending a whole lot of effort for something that should be so much simpler. Of course, you can’t change these controls, because that would make it much more playable (you also can’t adjust the volume of music or sound in the options menu, but I’ll give it a pass as this was the first generation where that really started to become a common thing).
The actual gameplay itself is much the same (awkward). A tiny sandbox is presented with the basics: enemies to shoot, items to pick up, check boxes to tick off. A few times, though, I ran into objectives that made no sense whatsoever, not even in hindsight. In particular, I spent 25 minutes wandering around the beginning area of one of the levels, tracing the walls, examining every crevice and corner with absolutely no idea what the game wanted me to do. Twenty five minutes of talking to myself and starting to lose my grip on sanity/sobriety, I pulled a move I started doing a long time ago when playing through Dead to Rights and played a video of someone else playing the game on the stream itself in order to figure out what the fuck the game expects me to do. Sure enough, I find that surprise, I’m expected to know that I can destroy parts of the environment. There has been no indication so far that this would even be remotely possible, much less expected behavior to continue the game. This is some Castlevania II level bullshit right here. I honestly can’t tell if it’s intentional to make the game seem more clever than it is, or if it’s just lazy design that nobody mentioned or cared about before shipping the game. Maybe a sleazy “advertisement” for the strategy guide?
All this nonsense aside, it really does just feel like someone took a paintbrush, dipped it in “Bond”, and halfheartedly smeared it across a generic shooter punctuated by an occasional kiosk for the “use” button. No funny awkward sound effects, no ridiculous dialogue, flat action set pieces…shit, the most exciting thing that probably happened the entire time was a weird skiing level that, while legally required because it was a thing that was a thing in the movie, still provided an interesting break from the on-foot blandness. Even if it did look like SSX 3 on GBA (which, again, controlled better than this).
Later in the game, the objectives seemed to get a little bit more complex (aka more interesting), so I’m hoping that any further time I decide to drop into the game later will be a bit more engaging. As it stands though, ugh. The fact that I dreaded writing anything about it at all (and the fact that I procrastinated two extra days to do so) should give an indication as to how much fun I’ve had so far. To be honest, though: I just like hearing the Bond theme. I could play a sliding puzzle listening to that shit. And….Publish! Get this damn thing off my desk!