Sunday, November 26, 2017

'The World Is Not Enough': Seventeen Years Ago

When Electronic Arts acquired the rights to develop and publish video games based on the James Bond franchise, they've started with adapting the storyline for Tomorrow Never Dies into a PlayStation game in 1999, the same year that The World Is Not Enough has hit the theaters. They made many spectacular Bond games that had the fans satisfied utterly, with the most notable one being Nightfire in 2002, which was the best way to mark the 40th Anniversary of Bond's cinematic existence. However, back in 2000, it was believed that The World Is Not Enough was going to be adapted into a game, as well. But, this time, for many platforms instead of just one, scheduled to be release in a Christmas time later that year.

Electronic Arts chose five platforms and four developers to take care of the adaptations and the ports of the game, but the publisher itself will personally deal with the script and the dialogues. BlackOps Entertainment was chosen to handle the development on the PlayStation version of the game, reverting from their Third-Person view as occurred in Tomorrow Never Dies to First-Person view, to recreate the success of Rareware's GoldenEye 007 on Nintendo 64, a platform which was also chosen to be part of EA's gaming market, with Eurocom taking the helm of that branch of the project. EA Redwood Shores studios was on to work on a version which was going to be ported on both PlayStation 2 and Windows PC, and 2n Productions was picked to develop a children's handheld game based on the title, namely GameBoy Color.

The PlayStation version on the left and the Nintendo 64 version on the right.

At the time, EA was also busy with another project called 007 Racing which was being developed by Eutechnyx. Unlike the other games in the series, this one was a racing game incorporated with 12 levels, featuring many vehicles and cars from previous Bond movies making their way back to the screen. All being gadget-laiden. What interesting part of EA's projects were that they switch and cut or replace many parts of the development with newer ones. 007 Racing itself survived a few major rewrites! One notable thing about the game was that in EA's 007 canon, this product served as a sequel to The World Is Not Enough, revealing that Zukovsky, one of Bond's allies, wasn't actually killed but heavily wounded.

Screenshots from the PC version of the game.

However, in September 2000, two months before its release date, the PC and PlayStation 2 version of The World Is Not Enough was cancelled by the publisher, due to lack of enough time to finish the development or fix the bugs. This one has made many fans upset (including myself!) at the time. However, the other two major console versions were released on 1st November 2000 world-wide, with the Nintendo 64 version gaining positive reviews from critics while the PlayStation version was slammed due to lackluster content. It's true, actually, I couldn't blame them for criticizing the latter. The GBC version for kids was released a year later.

Screenshot from The World Is Not Enough for the Windows PC and PS2 version, showing Bond evading death by timebomb set by Renard.
It was rumoured in early 2001 that Electronic Arts are currently working on a sequel to 007 Racing, which was not confirmed by the publisher at all. But, ultimately, they revealed a brand new title during E3, stating that Bond would be "going back to its roots", meaning it would reflect the same aspect as GoldenEye 007 on Nintendo 64. The title of the game was revealed to be Agent Under Fire, written and scripted by Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo, the people who brought us one of the most unforgettable TV Series, Viper, in which Max Payne's James McCaffrey had a leading role. They were also known for adapting The Rocketeer into a film. Back on topic, Agent Under Fire is said not to be based on any previous or existing Bond adventure, but carries an original storyline. It was set to be released on PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube. The game is developed on Quake III Arena engine, and is remade from their previous The World Is Not Enough development. But, the PC version remained in the pages of history. In fact, it features many locations that are identical to the ones occurred in the film.

Promotional renders featuring Bond's exotic cars from 007 Racing.

Promotional image for 007 Racing featuring Bond driving his BMW 750il during a mission.
Many old screenshots of the PC version released online told the fact that it was going to be more similar to the Nintendo 64 version rather than the PlayStation version. Character render 3D images featured the real-life actors who played the role have lent their likenesses to their respective characters, and it was likely to have Pierce Brosnan and the rest of the crew voicing them, as well. But, many secondary character models were later re-used for Agent Under Fire, as there was no point in re-designing them at all. As for the storyline, the main two villains are truly similar to the ones in The World Is Not Enough, for instance, Adrian Malprave has a company of herself with her surname, accompanied with a henchman called Nigel Bloch, a bald henchman, a mercenary. And this duo share similarities to Elektra King and Renard, with the former having a company of her own family name, and the latter being her loyal henchman.

3D character render for James Bond, based on Pierce Brosnan's likeness, data retrieved from the PC and PS2 version of The World Is Not Enough.
The World Is Not Enough 3D character models from the PC/PS2 version.
 Adrian Malprave on the left, and her henchman, Nigel Bloch on the right from Agent Under Fire.

In Agent Under Fire, Bond is portrayed by Andrew Bicknell instead of a previous actor who played the role, respectively in the films.
As for the rumoured 007 Racing sequel, it was revealed that Agent Under Fire will feature driving elements, meaning there's no racing game in development but rather some racing levels attached to the the First-Person Shooter game. In early footage, Bond is shown to be carrying the same weapon, Walther P99, with the same design as he wielded in The World Is Not Enough screenshots, even the mid-Summer video footage showed the very same elements along with the GoldenEye 007-type HUD to be used. But, in the final release version, a brand new HUD was created for the game, and Bond's weapon is suddenly changed to a Smith & Wesson SW99, still under the same pseudonym as in the original game, 'Wolfram P2K'. SW99 itself is Smith & Wesson's own approach to Walther P99, but it turned out to be a weaker firearm.

Gameplay footage from The World Is Not Enough on the left, and early Agent Under Fire on the right.

Final release version of the game features a SW99 as the main sidearm.

Racing levels from Agent Under Fire, with Bond behind the wheels of a DB5 and a BMW Z8 Roadstar.

Overall, I still think either The World Is Not Enough or Agent Under Fire should have been released on Windows PC platform, because the engine that both games were developed on was Quake III Arena, an engine which was specialized for personal computers rather than consoles. Even if the final product was to be released on PC, the fans would've been able to recreate The World Is Not Enough mod on the same engine, probably finding some files within the game's data and give it a full-time resurrection. It's a shame that did not come true at all.

Nintendo Power magazine published a pre-release information regarding to that of in Agent Under Fire, featuring James Bond on the front cover.

Thank you for reading! Feel free to discuss the topic below in the comments!

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