The Living Daylights

Reviewed by Les Ellingham


Issue 29

Sep/Oct 87

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You have to be good to be Bond. Fast reactions, quick thinking and a degree of good fortune are some of the qualities needed. Shame Timothy Dalton got the part in the film, but at least now there's a chance for you to audition for The Living Daylights the computer game that is! Are you good enough to play? You don't need to be handsome or be able to pull the ladies, or even own a dinner suit, but you will need those qualities of fast reactions, quick thinking and a great degree of good fortune to survive the 8 levels of this difficult 'shoot `em up with a difference'.

The game follows the plot of the film quite closely, so a trip to the pictures might help you figure out some of the puzzles at each level. These are not difficult but you are likely to lose several lives before you figure out just what you need to do to survive each level. The game starts with target practice in Gibraltar where you must splatter friendly SAS men on a target range with a paint gun. Trouble is they are shooting back at you and every hit loses you a point. Another problem is that one of them may not actually be a target on your side, you'll have to find him and kill him to go on to level 2.

Although armed initially with the paint gun, you can change weapons at any time by selecting a new weapon with the joystick from a panel at the bottom of the screen. In fact all control is by joystick and this is one of the reasons that The Living Daylights is such a challenge. The joystick controls a small cross cursor which you use to pinpoint where Bond will fire his chosen weapon and also to move Bond from one screen to another by placing the cursor at the far right of the screen. Fast reactions and thinking are needed to decide when to stop running and turn and fire it will take some practice to survive even the first level with enough strength to complete the second! Add to this the fact that the joystick also selects weapons and allows Bond to duck, jump and roll and you have a game that will keep you going for hours trying to master each level.

The screen is split into three areas, each of which scrolls independently. The foreground scrolls fastest and is only there for effect whilst the mid-ground is where Bond runs along and has to avoid rocks and potholes etc. All adversaries are to be found in the background where they will pop up randomly to throw anything at Bond from bottles and knives to bullets! Oh, and you'll probably come across the odd helicopter dropping bombs as you progress! The screen design is good, scrolling as smooth as you have come to expect from the Atari and the sound effects match the action. There's even a pretty good tune to start the whole thing up.

So what of the other levels? Level 2 finds you in the Lenin People's Music Conservatory from where you have to get the Russian defector Koskov out to safety whilst avoiding snipers. Level 3 is The Pipeline where you must sneak past the pipe workers with Koskov. Guards and falling pipes cause trouble here. Level 4 is set inside The Mansion House. Koskov has been rescued but they want him back! A crack killer has been sent in and you'll need your wits about you. Can you trust the milkman?

Level 5 is The Fairground where you have to meet another agent but whilst you managed to escape the killer Necros in the previous level he is not dead and still has orders to kill!. By now Koskov is missing and you find yourself in Tangiers where you must battle for your life on the rooftops. Coming near the end now, if you can get this far!

Level 7 is in The Military Complex in Afghanistan on a Russian Air Base (gets about does Bond). The Russians don't even like journalists in Afghanistan let alone secret agents so you had better watch out! Finally your objective Whitaker's House where you meet the mastermind behind it all, Brad Whitaker. Have you got what it takes to get past all his defences to finally win the game, roll the credits and go home to bed?

Some feat if you complete all of that. One added complication is that between each level you have a choice of just one weapon in addition to your pistol and if you choose the wrong one the chances of surviving the level are remote. Some weird and wonderful things are on offer from a bazooka to a ghetto blaster! Although basically a shoot 'ern up game, you do have to think as well and a read of the (very brief) instructions on the packaging will give you some clues.

Enough words. This time we have lots of pies so take a look and judge for yourself how good it looks. If you are worried about a 'conversion' to the Atari let me just mention that each version has been programmed individually and the Atari version was done by a company called De Re Software. Those who have been with Atari some time will realise that this means the people involved know their Atari.

I am not going to tell you how far I got but I will let you into the secret of exactly how to get to Level 8. Come closer. Aaarghh!! Looks like Timothy Dalton has still got the part!

Les Ellingham