Licence to Kill

  • Domark Ltd

  • FormatArcade & Video Game
  • TypeAction Adventure
  • SystemMicrocomputer

Considering the subject matter and the limitless possibilities, the world of James bond has been largely squandered by the videogame makers. Sure there's Goldeneye, but after that stunning offering what is there? A bunch of largely poor to mediocre offerings not worthy of the name.

Survive the aerial pursuit and there's a real treat in store
Andy Pryer 

Licence to Kill is one such game which, like so many other Bond titles, had a tepid reception on release and quickly and widely forgotten about ever since. While I do agree that most James bond games are rather damp squibs and a wasted potential, I'm typing this to try and convince you that in Licence to Kill we have something of a forgotten gem with it's varity of action set-pieces, unlike the one trick ponies of most other games of the time.

The only thing the levels have in common is the vantage point: all games are played from a bird's-eye view. Once you've reveled in the pretty descent 8-bit rendition of the famous Bond theme on the title screen, no time is wasted in dropping you into the action: pizza-faced drugs baron Sanchez is escaping by jeep with his goons while you pursue by helicopter dodging surface to air fire from a series of sheds dotted along the route. Speed is linked to altitude - the faster you go, the lower you fly making for more obstacles to dodge.

The hostile wendy houses can be destroyed to give yourself an easier time and for a juicy bonus, the jeep can be destroyed. Survive the aerial pursuit and there's a real treat in store: level 2 of this game is easily the best and without it, this game would be deservedly forgotten. Guiding bond through the airfield buildings to head off ol' crater face is hampered by his small army of goons who stand between you and need to be taken out. The level is respectful of Bond as a sly secret agent rather than a one man army spraying everything with bullets and does a better job of making the player feel like Cmdr. Bond than almost any other.

The showdown requires a certain amount of strategy as ammo is limited and the villains have all the best cover. Fortunately for Bond, some of this cover consists of barrels of explosive fuel, which can be detonated at the cost of four rounds of ammo, resulting in certain death for those foolish enough to be using it as cover. It's also useful to open a line of sight on well entrenched enemies. The exploding barrel may be familiar and hackneyed now, but it was a fresh, game changing concept at the time. What really marks this section as unique though is the aiming system which allows Bond to fire in any direction. Very useful when lining up the perfect shot across the fire fight.

The enemies appear to be understandably terrified of Bond and flee for their lives as he approaches. This can be used to the player's advantage to shepherd the goons into a more advantageous position. Don't be tempted to abuse this advantage though, otherwise you'll face a metric shit-tonne of enemies all at once towards the end of the level. There are some slightly buggy bullet trajectories, when the screen scrolls, bullets have a slight tendency to curve in flight meaning that while safely concealed behind a corner a bullet can strike you. This used to infuriate me and I'd drop to my knees, tear off my shirt and scream at the sky. But eventually (and here I reveal just how much I played this game), like Neo in The Matrix, I learned to use this to my advantage, then there was no hiding from Cmdr. Bond, James Bond. Now that I've discussed level 2 of the game more than anyone else in history, I'll be a bit more brief about the remainder, which will be easy for level 3 as it's over almost as soon as it starts. Hook the tail of Sanchez's plane with the winch of the helicopter and you can go to the wedding. It only takes a moment.

Level 4 skips ahead in the story somewhat and sees Bond getting wet, dodging bullets from passing dinghies above the waterline and wrestling scuba divers below it. Stolen harpoons from the latter are needed to make your escape which closely resembles the scene from the film.

This is another fun and original level which tickles the Bond bone nicely. Finally we take control of a big rig full of petrol and cocaine and use it as a weapon to destroy the other lorries full of petrol and cocaine on the road ahead. Once that uncivilised business is over you're treated to a congratulatory statement and a brief musical interlude, then it's back to level one again with the difficulty ramped up. I actually liked this game on release and it soon became a favourite of mine mainly because of level 2. I encourage spectrum and Bond fans alike to check it out. As a fan of both I can't go wrong.

Review by Andy Pryer @clammylizard

Licence to Kill Walkthrough - ZX Spectrum
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Licence to Kill - Trailer

  • Domark Ltd

  • FormatArcade & Video Game
  • TypeAction Adventure
  • SystemMicrocomputer

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