Can you make the trip?

Licence to Kill logo

IT seems only logical that the longest running series of films should create the longest running series of spin-off games. But whereas the films have generally deteriorated since Connery left - never mind Moore - it is interesting to note that the games have been getting better.

LTK boots up with a slightly impure rendering of the familiar Bond theme and a terrible digitised picture of Timothy Dalton. Terrible because it is quite lifelike.

Bond begins in a helicopter with Felix, the CIA agent, chasing the notorious drug baron Sanchez who is aboard a jeep. The object is to strafe the jeep and kill Sanchez Fair enough. Things to watch out for are the occasional gun emplacement taking a shot at you, and telegraph wires.

If he survives to the end, James must jump out of the helicopter and pursue Sanchez on foot through a camp of enemy gunmen. This is easily the best part. It bears a resemblance to games like Commando, but is much more realistic - armed with a 15 shot per magazine Beretta, accuracy and fleetness of foot become more important than gung-ho doggedness.

Pressing the fire button activates an aiming reticle and releasing it fires the shot. So Bond can fire in a different direction to that in which he is travelling. This can be a little difficult at times and unless you are good you will be full of holes before you have the bad guy in your sights.

Bond makes his way back to the chopper and pursues Sanchez's light aircraft. Here he must dangle out of a helicopter and attach a tow- rope to the plane before patriotically parachuting in the water below.

Now armed with only a knife, it is not enough just to stand and stare. He must dodge enemy patrols and board a seaplane by harpooning its floats. Simply climbing on board is not the Bond way.

The final stage involves jumping on to the roof of a 16 wheeler and wreaking havoc on the highway in an attempt to catch Sanchez's elusive missile-firing jeep. I am convinced it is a major contribution to road safety.

Graphics throughout are pleasing, especially the animated end sequences to each stage which give you the feel that you are playing a complete game rather than just several little ones tagged together, like the earlier efforts in the series.

The sound effects are minimal so turn the volume down and jack up Gladys Knight on your turntable.

It is easy to say that with Domark's monopoly on the Bond series, it does not so much have a licence to kill but a licence to make a killing.

To be fair, Domark now seem to be relying not so much on hype but more on decent coding to sell its wares. Gameplay has improved to the point where the nostalgic among you mentally intone "I think I got the point" in a fake Scottish accent as a baddie gets harpooned.
A definite improvement on earlier tragedies.

Licence to Kill logo

DOMARK £19.99 Joystick or Keyboard

The world's most famous secret agent, James Bond, is once more appearing on a computer screen near you. Licence to Kill, the game, is based on the film starring newcomer Timothy Dalton and faithfully follows the movie's plot. It puts you in Jimmy's shoes as he sets out on a personal vendetta against arch drug-smuggler and drowner of kittens, Sanchez. Ulp!

The game has six distinct parts, involving all manner of violence and mayhem, and arranged into three main sections. The first part requires you to pilot a helicopter along a vertically-scrolling roadway, trying to blast Sanchez who's making an escape in his jeep. But naturally he's firing back, so you must gain and lose height to avoid not only his shots, but also other shots emanating from the occasional ground installation.

At the end of the stage Bond must jump from his chopper and fight Sanchez's henchmen on foot. Blasting away on the run won't help much in this part, because you can't aim effectively on the move. Instead, a firing sight appears when you hold down the fire button and by moving left or right you can adjust the aim. Then when you start moving and press fire, the gun fires in the direction you last aimed.

At the top of this vertically-scrolling piece Felix is waiting in the helicopter, and to complete the first section Bond must jump in and spin off in pursuit of Sanchez, who is making a dash for Cuba. Bond lowers himself on a rope from the 'copter to attach a tow-rope to the tail of the arch-fiend's plane; tricky, tricky.

The second main section of the game sees Bond underwater for the first part armed only with a knife, dodging boats that fire at him and contending with divers. Manage to survive until the plane arrives and it's time to a spot of barefoot waterskiing as he harpoons the seaplane's pontoons and attempts to haul himself aboard to take control, all the time avoiding high-speed catamarans that have been sent with strict orders to stop him.

Survive and it's straight into the third and final section of the game, where Sanchez is trying to make a run for it with the drugs (a dash with the stash?) hidden inside petrol tankers, after you thoughtlessly destroyed his drug factory. Destroy all the tankers successfully and you're left with Sanchez (who is armed with Stinger missiles for protection) in the last truck. And there you go, and why not indeed?

Licence to Kill, has been nicely done, and that in a sense is what it's there for. Some sections are very playable, but though it's fun for a while, it is not likely to keep you playing for months. Still, it does follow the plot of the film accurately and it's certainly tough and addictive enough to grab your attention for a good while.

Licence to Kill logo

Price: £19.99 disk

James Bond turns plain Jane in 007's eighteenth cinematic exploit, Licence to Kill. Gone are the days of The Sun-loving agent, three-nippled foes and global villainy; in Timothy Dalton's Bond we have a Mail on Sunday Rambo who battles South American drugs barons and a bog-standard plot alike.

The film, however, does number among the series' most spectacular stunts and it is from these that the software licence takes its cue, by linking together six action highlights into scrolly arcade sequences. And considering that they only had its storyboard to work from, programmers Quixel and artist Tony West have managed to come up with a game that looks remarkably faithful to the movie.

Felix Leiter, James Bond's wrinkly chum, has had a leg bitten off by sharks, and his beautiful American bride has been shot dead on their honeymoon. Understandably, this sends our James a little bit doolally and he sets off on a mission to wipe out the main responsible: Sanchez, a villain who aims to corner the Pacific's drug trade.

Scene One has you swooping low in a helicopter in pursuit of Sanchez's Jeep. Avoid trees, buildings, machine gun emplacements and remark how similar idea this is to the speedboat chase in Domark's last Bondsoft, Live and Let Die. It is really quite pretty but uninspiring stuff.

Things start to get a lot tougher and more interesting next, as Bond gets involved in a shoot-out with Sanchez's henchmen. It takes skill to seek cover while aligning the sights of your gun. But fail to do this and you will come out with Beretta a-blazing and your bullets missing their mark. You are in a pretty tight spot here, and this is the one section of the game where play comes alive and strategy and brainpower's called for.

The following sequence is equally as tough, though not nearly as interesting, as you dangle from a rope and try to "hook" a getaway plane. This is not as easy as it at first might appear. Next off it is a dip into the briney as 007 swims underwater to intercept a drugs haul and knife a few frogmen. Harpoon and seaplane's pontoons and its up for a spot of barefoot skiing. This last tough is nice but has been lifted from the film. Domark, in fact, seem to have fought shy of adding their own creative input. Witness the final sequence, where you pilot a crop-duster plane over a convoy of trucks. The skills required are identical to those for the previous aerial stunts. Licence to Kill is a tough game but it does lack variety.

Which brings me to the final point. Licence to Kill is OK, but it is a game that rests on the laurels of its big name attraction. Pretty to look at, it has a high energy Bond-style soundtrack interspersed by acres of noisy playing time with machine gun fire. Licence to Kill is worth it if you want an average game and you like the film; otherwise I would say that this is pretty standard fare. No Oscars for this licence, I am afraid.

PRICE: £9.95 cassette; £12.99 disk
The 8-bit version of Licence to Kill comes complete with spectacular gun fire, explosions, and generally a better soundtrack than its Amiga counterpart. Also features the famous "following gun-sight" which opens every Bond film, and the game has an altogether "pacier" feel.

Licence to Kill logo

Domark, C64 £9.99 cassette, £14.99 disk; Amiga £19.99

In Licence To Kill Bond is on the trail of Sanchez, a ruthless drug dealer aiming to corner the world drug market. The Game follows Bond's hunt for the elusive criminal through six vertically scrolling sections in the air, on land and at sea.

Bond starts the hunt on board a Coastguard helicopter - Sanchez is the prey, racing along in his jeep, protected by machinegun-wielding guards which take pot shots at the 'copter.

Dropped off by his chopper, 007 then pursues Sanchez on foot through a boatyard but there is the small matter of dozens of henchmen to take out first. Equipped with a Beretta Pistol Bond can rotate in all directions to aim at the enemy, hide behind oil drums, and collect vital extra ammunition.

For level three the action moves back into the air as Sanchez tries to escape in his prop plane. Bond hangs down from the helicopter with a rope to latch onto the plane's tail and capture it. Sanchez is only two minutes away from escaping and weaving all over the place, with inertia and time aginst him.

Once again the slippery Sanchez escapes, but Bond is not far behind as he takes to the water scuba diving through unfriendly waters filled with Sanchez's hench-divers and dinghies. Dive to avoid bullets and stab the divers but do not forget to pick up the bags of cocaine floating through the water.

In the fifth section Bond begins to draw near Sanchez's seaplane and fires a rope onto a pontoon. Bond is towed along behind the plane and must draw in the line to reach the plane whilst avoiding rocks and buoys in the water.

Finally Bond manages to catch up with Sanchez as the criminal tries to cross the border accompanied by drug-carrying tankers - this time Bond is in the air again but only momentarily as he leaps out onto a tanker, takes command of it and races after Sanchez. Bump the other tankers off the road and be prepared to dodge the Stinger missiles.

Phil King Out of the two I must say I prefer the 64 version which is more challenging and makes better use of the machine, the graphics on the Amiga game being effective, rather than dazzling. However, both versions are certainly very playable with six varied levels which follow the plot of the film well. My only gripe is that none of the levels are outstanding - the appeal of the game lies in the sheer number of levels, and once you have completed it you may not return to the game too ften. But having said that Licence is definitely the best Bond game yet and well worth a look.
Robin Hogg I am surprised as to how Quixel has managed to cram so much into a one-load 64 version. The first few levels may seem a little dull to look at on both machines, but the graphic quality and sprite detail is very good indeed, more so on the 64. Despite a very tough second level on both version Licence has the variety and playability to keep you playing for some time even if the Amiga game is a little easy. The 64 version proves a better challenge with hence better lastability.