Wasn’t there some gruesome Hollywood bubblegum flick in the late 80s called License To Drive, starring the Corey’s Haim and Feldman? If memory serves it was full-to-overflowing with trite, cheeseball, obvious teeny humour that served as nothing more than a saccharine vehicle (tee hee) for the out-of-control egos of Tinsletown’s youngest heartthrobs. Which all added up to it being bloody awful.
Ironic, then, that this latest mobile Bond license chose to adopt the same title, as it’s very much the gaming equivalent of the tacky and effortless entertainment cash-in.
As the dreadful title suggests, 007: License to Drive focuses on Bond’s iconic motors, but doesn’t really capture the high-tech essence or suave sophistication those cars represented in the films. Instead it’s a chase-‘em-up set on long stretches of straight motorway.
Viewed from above, the first thing you’ll notice about 007: License to Drive is also the best thing about it – the visuals. It’s an undeniably good-looking game, with lots of detail in the environments and plenty of traffic and obstacles. Although the long stretches of tarmac don’t have much in the way of imagination in their layout, they look great and any repetition in the graphics is cleverly camouflaged by obstacles and lots of other cars.
Unfortunately it’s downhill from there (we swear these aren’t deliberate puns – they’re just coming to us). Any cars in front can be assailed with forward-facing machine guns, while your rear is protected by dropping stingers in the road as booby traps. Although these two weapons are pretty effective, they don’t really encompass the arsenal you’d expect from Q’s lab.
Obstacles in the road are your enemy every bit as much, if not more so, than the plethora of cars attempting to bring you to a halt. The story behind why these cars are ramming and jamming you is vague, to say the least, and roughly cobbled together through a plot that resembles nothing like a Bond tale. As the game progresses you also get to tear around in a speedboat, but the only real difference is the graphics.
What really brings 007: License to Drive to its knees are the controls. The roads are kept dead straight, presumably, to allow for an unusual experiment in mobile driving that, as worth a shot as it might have been, is a failure. Each tap of the left and right button jolts the car in that direction, but can’t really be considered a “steering” mechanic.
To move from one side of the road to the other requires fevered, uncontrolled jabbing at the buttons, so any fast or accurate manoeuvres are lost in button bashing tedium. It’s a busy road, too, which would be fine if you felt like you really had control of the car. As it is, all your efforts are spent just trying to dodge motorway flotsam, and taking out the enemies just exacerbates your thumb cramp.
The concept of a Bond driving game is probably quite solid, but the poor execution seen in 007: License to Drive does nothing to prove that notion.