By Marc Saltzman
Gannett News Service
The world's most renowned secret agent is back on the small screen, starring in a red-hot action game based on last year's blockbuster movie, "The World Is Not Enough." Naturally, we're talking about James Bond.
While the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation versions of this game vary greatly, both are worthy spy thrillers designed to keep you glued to the tube through winter.
In The World is Not Enough (T.W.I.N.E.), gamers assume the role of Agent 007, who must thwart eccentric villains Electra and Renard, who want to seize control of one of the world's essential oil pipelines.
The video game Bond is modeled after Pierce Brosnan. Other recognizable characters from the movie include beautiful physicist Christmas Jones (as played in the film by Denise Richards), and gadget-master Q's new assistant, R (John Cleese, of Monty Python fame). Cleese also lends his voice to the game.
As Bond fans would expect, the game features a mix of unabashed gun-totin' action and slower-paced, stealthy sequences. Of course, there are gadgets galore.
Some of the more memorable technology toys include a cell phone stun gun, a grappling-hook watch, a video camera that doubles as a rocket launcher and night-vision goggles.
The game is played from a first-person perspective, so the action is seen out of the "eyes" of the lead character. This is consistent with the most celebrated and best-selling James Bond-based video game for the Nintendo platform, 1997's GoldenEye 007.
Graphically, both games are impressive — especially given the age of Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation — and each version also aims to take advantage of the given platform's strengths.
The PlayStation version allows for more than 20 minutes of streaming video plucked right out of the movie thanks to its CD-based technology, whereas the Nintendo 64 version enjoys a collection of fun multiplayer maps and special game modes for as many as four players on the same television. The number of levels, weapons and gadgets also vary between the two versions.
The Nintendo 64 game is the superior of the two for its savvy level design, 40-plus gadgets/weapons, smarter artificial intelligence and wealth of multiplayer options.
One small beef: Where's the classic James Bond music?Also, a 4-megabyte Expansion Pak ($25) greatly improves the graphics.
As a side note, Electronic Arts is also readying two other versions of T.W.I.N.E. for next year, to be played on the new PlayStation 2 and PC platforms.