After last year's putrid Tomorrow Never Dies, it's hard to have any faith in EA's ability to pull off a decent James Bond game. Electronic Arts tried to do too much in Tomorrow Never Dies, and the result was a disjointed experience. Another Bond movie has made its way through theatres, so EA is back at it with The World Is Not Enough. TWINE outperforms Tomorrow Never Dies on most counts - the gameplay is more focused, the James Bond aura is much more conspicuous, and the stealth elements have been emphasized more. While the foundation for a solid playing Bond shooter is present, glaring flaws prevent the gameplay from building on it.
The World Is Not Enough keeps a narrow gameplay focus. Instead of attempting to bring every last scene of the movie to life, EA has instead concentrated on getting the shooting and stealth elements locked down. This means you'll be watching the more robust action scenes instead of playing them, but the trade-off is well worth it. There are plenty of real-world weapons to make use of, and each one has its own firing pattern and lethality. The number of gadgets used while playing through the game is the most ever for a James Bond game. There is an inflatable jacket, a credit card lock pick, a cell phone stunner, telephone bugs, fingerprint scanners, and more. Unfortunately, some of them are used for such petty purposes that they simply drag the game down. Using the credit card lock pick is nifty the first few times, but as the game wears on, far too many doors need to be picked and the process of waiting for the tool to work its magic becomes cumbersome. Shooting out cameras is starting to get really old. It was revolutionary in GoldenEye and still fun in Perfect Dark, but it's time for game developers to move on. TWINE is full of reused gameplay ideas that would have rocked the house a few years ago but are now just blasé. If you haven't had enough of this type of shenanigans already, playing through TWINE - with its numerous rehashes of past video game scenarios - will be enjoyable. One glaring omission in the gameplay is the lack of multiplayer support. This is inexcusable. Considering the game takes less than a day to whip through, there's not much left afterward to enjoy.
The artificial intelligence of TWINE's enemies is both shaken and stirred. After being shot with a tranquilizer gun, enemies pass out on the floor for a few moments, wake up, and go right back to the routine. It's possible to run directly behind them without being detected. It's also possible to stand in plain view 20 feet down a hallway and never be seen. Enemy attacks are straightforward and lack any sort of variety or stealth. They run into plain view and begin shooting. Taking cover isn't a part of the program. Bumping up the difficulty level makes them shoot more accurately, but it doesn't make them become any more intelligent.
Graphically speaking, The World Is Not Enough has its moments. There is a nice texture variety that brings the levels to life but, as is common with the majority of PlayStation software, viewing things up close will raise an eyebrow. Texture warping, another common PlayStation graphical ailment, is thankfully nowhere to be found. The character models used for the game aren't as blocky as those found in some other last-generation games, but there isn't nearly enough variety. Meeting the same three females over and over makes you wonder if there's a cloning subplot hidden somewhere in the game. The enemies are repeated just as often, and it gives the game a cheapo cop simulation feel. The animation routines are sparse. Most enemies tiptoe around corners and then turn and continue the animation in plain sight. When shot, most enemies simply fall back in an animation routine that consists of just a few frames. Occasionally they will fall off balconies, but if you're looking for the type of reactions you're used to from Rare shooters, TWINE will leave you yearning for more detail. Don't even get me started on the "pull the hair off the shoulder" routine that every female character performs over and over. It's downright creepy. Numerous other problems abound, such as being able to see enemies through walls or the fact that many objects like bookcases aren't constructed of polygons but instead exist as textures plastered to the walls. This was done to keep the frame rates rolling along, and this is one area where EA has had some success. FMV ripped straight from the movie plays between levels to keep the plot moving, but if you've already seen the movie, you'll be glad you can skip through them.
TWINE's audio is its Achilles' Heel. The remixed versions of the Bond theme become repetitive after long periods of play, but the sound effects are excellent. Bullets can be heard ricocheting off objects, enemy footsteps can be tracked in surround sound, and enemies speak when alerted to your presence. The voice acting is generally strong, minus the deadpan work of the Pierce Brosnan stand-in. The control is another bright spot. It's fast, intuitive, and responsive. The only negative is that switching weapons takes far too long, resulting in a lot of evasion while trying to bring up the proper item.
Any newbie to stealth shooters will get a lot out of The World Is Not Enough, but vets of the sneak-and-kill scenario will find it drab and lacking innovation. The small details that Rare included in GoldenEye that gave it such a believable feel are absent here, and small nuances like enemies respawning out of thin air further detract from the game's realism. If you're looking for a good weekend rental, The World Is Not Enough provides just enough gameplay to keep you busy until Sunday. TWINE is not GoldenEye for the PlayStation, but if you're tired of playing through Medal of Honor or Metal Gear Solid, it provides temporary relief for your stealth shooting addiction.