|This is the main menu for the Playstation version, which is|
similar to that of the N64 version but with noticeable
differences at the same time.
Let's start with the controls and their mechanics. Overall, they're pretty good (it's great being able to strafe while manually aiming) and nicely smooth, and, like a number of other games, you can change their layout to best suit your individual needs. I do, though, have some issues with them. For one, there are so many different commands, particularly when it comes to cycling through your weapons and gadgets and then choosing their different firing modes to suit the particular situation, as well as some of the buttons having different functions, on top of everything else, that it can be very confusing when you first start out. When I played the game for the first time in a while in order to do this review, there was a moment where I desperately needed to change the mode on Bond's special gadget watch and it took a lot of frustration to figure out what button combinations made it do so. You can look at the control layout on the Options menu when you pause the game but, again, there are so many different controls that I had some trouble keeping them straight and this is not the type of game where it's advisable to keep pausing and looking up control combinations in the middle of the action. Speaking of the weapons, like a number of first-person shooter games, your character automatically targets your enemies but, even so, you can't rely solely on that because whether or not that works depends on where you and the enemies stand in relation to each other, so it's best to always be prepared to target manually (the auto-aim, however, often lets you know when there are enemies around a corner or behind a door, so it is useful even when you ultimately have to aim manually). And while we're on the subject, am I the only one who has a little trouble with targeting manually in these types of games? Maybe it's simply the tension of being caught up in a big shootout but, whenever I target an enemy manually, the control is always a little too sensitive and I have trouble aiming in the best spot to take an enemy out. Again, it's probably my nerves that cause me to over-exert the controls but I tend to find myself running into that a lot in first-person shooters. It also doesn't help that there are some levels in this game where the camera jumps a little bit when you're standing next to an angled wall and also that you sometimes have to struggle to keep yourself aiming in the spot you want to be while moving forward, anticipating exactly where an enemy up ahead will be standing. Reloading happens when you either run out of bullets in a clip or you press the B-button to do it manually but, however it occurs, you'd best take cover when you do so because some of the weapons take a minute for Bond to throw out the spent clip and get a new one in there. Unfortunately, there are a lot of situations where you won't have much cover to duck behind so you just have to deal with it (there have been plenty of times where I've been going, "Come on! Reload!", while some enemies have been baring down on me). Plus, while it's easy to forget during the heat of the game, you have to keep your eye on how much ammo you have in the clip you're using as much as possible because there's nothing worse than reloading just as an enemy comes guns-blazing around a corner. Finally, far and away the worst part of the controls here is the jumping. I always hate having to jump in a first-person shooter because you can't judge when you need to jump while taking a running leap over a gap but, while that is the case here, another, more annoying, issue is how difficult it is to simply jump over small obstacles in your way. You can't jump on top of them when you're right in front of them but have to be moving towards them from a distance of five feet or so and then jump to either land on top or clear them, which is not only ridiculous but, again, not something you have time to think about in the heat of the game.
As I mentioned earlier, the enemies become tougher the higher the difficulty level and that's not simply due to their more precise aiming or the fact that it takes more shots to kill them, including those who couldn't possibly be wearing body armor under their clothes, but also due to their AI. They become much more adept at acting like they're about to keel over after you shoot them, which can cause you to drop your guard, and then pop back up and start shooting at you again. That especially sucks when you're dealing with enemies armed with rocket and grenade launchers that can kill you in just a few hits and when you're forced to shoot two or more from an awkward angle because it sometimes feels like they just won't go down, no matter how many times you shoot them. It can also be hard to predict a patrolling enemy's behavior when you need to sneak up on them, as I'll go into more detail on later when we get into some examples. (But, on the same token, those aforementioned enemies with the grenade and rocket launchers often very stupidly try to shoot at you even when the angle where you're standing makes them aim at a wall that's right in front of them, resulting in them blowing themselves up. Plus, there are often instances where enemies who are part of a cluster won't react until they see you, even after you shoot one of their allies that are like two feet away!) Unfortunately, the AI of your allies and other characters don't appear to be as smart as your enemies' is most of the time, which sucks since there are some levels where you either have to keep civilians and allies alive or escort someone to a certain location (I've said it before and I'll say it again; I hate those kind of levels!) and they have a bad habit of running right in front of you when you're in the middle of a firefight. If you accidentally shoot them, you fail the mission and have to start all over, which is all the more frustrating when it's a mission that forces you to do some trivial things at the start before moving on. (In the case of those images I put in as examples, I think those players either shot those characters on purpose just to get some screenshots or really didn't know what they were doing since I don't think I've ever ended up shooting them accidentally in those particular situations).
Let's get into the weapons and gadgets you have to play with here. Your default weapon is the Wolfram P2K, which might not have the greatest range or inflict the most damage but is definitely a good weapon to fall back on when you run out of ammo for your others (it is possible to run out of ammo for it as well, especially on the higher difficulties) and you can attach a silencer to it in situations where you need to make as little noise as possible. The Deutsche M45 is a nice submachine gun that has a fair amount of stopping power and medium range, while the Deutsche SA90 is a very useful and lethally accurate rifle with a long-range scope that makes it ideal for taking out on enemies on rooftops or in the distance. The Frenesi Special 12 is a very powerful shotgun but, unfortunately, it's marred by a very limited accuracy range and can only wound your enemy if you shoot him from afar (this is not a good weapon to use when saving hostages because you can very easily hurt them in the process). The Ingalls Type 20 is a silent but lethal heavy-machine pistol that can down a number of enemies in seconds but eats up a lot of ammo in the process. The MB Pow 90 is another useful machine gun with a large clip that can hold up to 50 rounds and a nice range, but reloading the thing takes a while. One of the best weapons is the Meyer Bullpup, a very efficient, accurate rifle with a telescopic sight that enables you to shoot from a long distance. The Meyer TMP is another machine pistol that, while it does inflict a lot of damage, more than makes up for it with a high loading capacity and a respectable range. The Raptor Magnum is a semi-automatic pistol that is very lethal when shot directly at an enemy but has a limited range and can only carry up to eight rounds, so you have to be selective in using it. The Mustang .44 is a more powerful version of the Magnum and comes with a useful scope that makes it ideal for rescuing hostages, but its rate of fire and very slow reloading time make it very hazardous to use in standoffs. Probably the best weapon in the entire game is the KA-57, which has both a great range and is very, very efficient at stopping enemies dead in their tracks; unfortunately, ammo for it seems to be scarce on the higher difficulties. Another really good weapon is the Suisse SSR 4000, a small but very useful, silenced sniper rifle that has the longest range in the entire game with its telescopic lens and can easily down an enemy, no matter where you shoot them; you only get five rounds a clip, though, so you have to make your shots count. The Mustang MR-4 is a rare but very powerful assault rifle with a scope that will have to thanking God profusely when you come across it (you don't find a lot of ammo for it, though). The Seamaster Speargun can only carry two spears at a time but, man, when you aim it accurately, it skewers your enemies like nobody's business and often puts them down in one hit. The same goes from the Delta Mag 900 crossbow, which has the added luxury of a scope, but the downside is that it takes a little bit for it to reload. The GL-40 is a grenade launcher that often comes with only one grenade at a time and, while they say it has a nice range, I've never found a good use for it; now, the RL22, which is a rocket launcher, is much more useful since the rockets travel in a straight line, making them much more accurate, even though they can only hold one rocket at a time. The AT-420 Sentinel is a handheld missile launcher that may look cool but, as I'll get into when we get to the specific level where you make use of it, it has a lot of annoying drawbacks, no matter which mode you switch it to. Going back to grenades, there are some that you can use by themselves, like a Sticky Grenade for clearing out rooms and a Stun Grenade for temporarily incapacitating your enemies, although I don't know why you'd want to do that other than as a last resort.
The music in the game also sounds better than in Goldeneye, even though are a couple of memorable themes there, but, that said, it is mostly generic in its orchestration. There are some themes that I genuinely enjoy, like the music you hear during the Start menu and during certain parts of the actual game, and especially the nicely cool, quiet piece during the Nightwatch level (which is based on an actual bit of music from the film), but other than that, it's mostly just run-of-the-mill, spy video game music, with a lot of synthesizer sounds and texture to it that were probably perceived as cool back then but feel dated now. What's really weird about the music is that I don't remember hearing the James Bond theme or even a facsimile of it during any part of the game. That's not only odd but a shame since the version of it in Goldeneye was hardly the greatest and it could have sounded a lot better here with the more advanced sound processing. There's not even an instrumental version of the theme song, The World Is Not Enough, by Garbage here. Granted, there wasn't any version of Tina Turner's Goldeneye song in that game either but it's strange how, given that none of the other pieces of the film's score, except that one I mentioned, are sampled here either, the game's music has so little in common with that of the movie it's based on; it feels like just another dime-a-dozen, first-person shooter in that regard, which I think is a mistake for a Bond game.
And with all that said, let's get to the walkthrough.
After that dilemma, you enter into a warehouse where, after killing three more enemies in the short hallway leading to its door (I say three but, again, the game tends to randomize how many are there on a given playthrough), you have to clear out some enemies throughout a small maze of crates, including one on the scaffolding above the main area and another holding a couple of people hostage down there, and then use your watch's grapple feature to get up on the scaffolding to continue. If you look around the room once you get up there on 00 Agent, you will see the level's sole bit of body armor at the very back of the room on a small, upper section that you can only reach by jumping across the crates. It may take some effort to get but, trust me, you probably will need it in order to complete the level. Getting back up to speed, once you go through the doors on the scaffolding that lead back outside, you'll be told that the assassin is getting away. Now, here's where something weird happened to me one time when I played this level on the harder difficulties: I, somehow, kept failing the mission even when I wasn't getting killed. You have to fight your way through a number of more enemies, including a bunch on the stairs leading to and on the patch of road in front of the subway the assassin ducked into but, just when I was clearing out the terrorists in order to more safely reach the entrance to the subway, I would get a mission saying that I failed the mission. My only thought was that I was taking too long to reach the subway after getting that message about the assassin beginning to move away from current position, so I tried to get there faster, which is easier said than done with a bunch of heavily armed terrorists trying to shoot you to pieces, but every time, I still failed. I tried one time to ignore the enemies and simply go for it but that inevitably led to me getting killed before I could reach the stairs. The only way I finally did beat the level on the higher difficulties was to watch how much damage I took on the way there, grab that body armor I mentioned, and get there as fast as I could while still shooting any enemies who got in my way when necessary. I almost got killed but I finally made it. Now, the thing is, I don't know if that's just a part of the level on those difficulties or if my game was just glitching up during that playthrough (no online walkthrough I've read has ever mentioned it) but I just wanted to mention that in case that's happened to someone else and tell them how I managed to overcome it.