James Bond: The Stealth Affair by Al Giovetti
By Al Giovetti
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James Bond: The Stealth Affair
by Al Giovetti
Stealth was produced by Delphine, the French company that did Future Wars: Adventures in Time, with their "Cinematique" game system. Future Wars required one pixel accuracy when you pointed at things to click on, which was often frustrating. The most notable feature in Future Wars was the beautiful art of Eric Chahi.
Chahi used a multiplane camera technique, similar to the one used by Disney in their animated films to portray the differences in movement seen with depth as distance progresses to the horizon. Closer items move more quickly from right to left and back again, making the scenes more realistic and giving the illusion of depth. The Stealth Affair and Operation Stealth are essentially the same product. USGold is distributing the ST version in the United States which is identical to the original European version of the game. Interplay changed some game elements and replaced John Glames with James Bond for the USA IBM and Amiga versions, by obtaining the license for the property. Much of the spelling errors and errors in English grammar were also corrected for the USA version of the game.
Game Play: Improved Interface
Gone are the one pixel active screen spots. The new interface is much more forgiving than that found in Future Wars. The interface is easier to use than in Future Wars.
The arcade sequences are just as hard and frustrating as those in Future Wars. You should save before every arcade sequence. You must swim out of a cavern before your air runs out, operate a bracelet device, swim out of a watery grave with a beautiful woman, and find the enemy HQ in a complex maze.
Delphone's interface is an imaginative, easy-to-use, point-and-click variant of Sierra and Lucasfilm games. The mouse can be used to access pop-up windows containing verb menus, inventory lists, disk access, and save game options. (You have ample room for saved games which you can name yourself for easy identification.)
Your right mouse button accesses the pop-up windows, the left one allows you to point and click on items within the animated screen. The pop-up windows are mouse sensitive and they pop-up at the mouse pointer's current location. This allows easy access to the menu without having to move the mouse all over the screen to get to where the menu has popped up. For those so inclined, you almost never have to tough your keyboard.
Stealth play on the IBM can happily be enhanced by the keyboard interface. All the action words can be accessed through the function keys. The keyboard interface is intelligent and well thought out. If you type well, you may prefer the keyboard over the interactive mouse-controlled graphics.
Other game functions and settings can be adjusted via the keyboard. Arrow keys may be used to move the cursor fast or slow, and others enable you to move James-John around the screen. Sound can be turned on or off. Accelorating or decelorating animated sequences makes them easier to complete.
Different sections of the keyboard are accessed by pressing the control key and a number key. Delphine has eliminated the one pixel active areas that plagued players from Paris, France to Paris, Texas in Future Wars. Those players in the Amiga and the Atari ST will not have the advantage of two handed play afforded by the combined mouse and keyboard interface of the IBM version of the game.
Stealth plunges you headlong into the world of international espionage. You will be sent across the globe in an attempt to find the missing, super-secret Stealth Bomber. You must investigate a list of suspects that include a Latin American Dictator, the Russian KGB, and organized crime (not some salad "croutons" from Betelgeuse, as in Future Wars).
More complex and predictable than Future Wars, Stealth reminded me more of similar efforts by Lucasfilm and Sierra. Gone also is the side-splitting humor that distinguished Future Wars. The tone of Stealth is more somber and grave. I found Stealth dry and humorless by comparison. (But then I have always preferred comedy to drama.)
Still, it's a good James Bond type thriller that could even be made into a movie. Its full of gadgets and special effects, and the suspenseful plot moves right along with lively action interspersed with arcade action sequences.
The pilot of the Stealth plane is replaced by an imposter who looks very French. The imposter drives up to the plane and flies it away. Before you know it you are being briefed in the persona of James Bond or John Glames in the CIA in Langley, Virginia. (Keep your eyes on the picture behind the desk in the office. Someone has been projecting porno pictures on the screen behind the picture.)
The "Cinematique" game system has been slightly refined since Future Wars. Gone are the Eric Chahi multiplane camera effects. The pictures are flat, high quality two dimensional art that resembles water colors heavy with earthtones. Delphine is using Michele Bacque and Emmanuel Le Coz as producers instead of Eric Chahi. Michele and Emmanuel have produced a game with an animated cartoon-like feel.
Stealth's opening scene is a particularly beutiful job of animated art. Animated sequences are interspersed throughout the game to move along the plot and the action, filling in details about the characters or the story. These "cut scenes" are mandatory and cannot be bypassed by any means. While entertaining, they grow monotonous on the third and fourth dozen viewings.
Jean Baudlot performed admirably in writing a good movie-like musical score for Stealth.
Sound effects were still handled by Marc Minier who performed so well in this capacity for Future Wars. The sound effects are good but not up the caliber of those we have come to expect from Sierra and LucasArts.
Both the Interplay and USGold manuals describe the Stealth Bomber and the special spy equipment used in the game. It is interesting to note that the two different manuals show John Glames is 0.02 meters taller than James Bond and one kilogram lighter (Felix?). Maybe James should go on a diet?
Color me frustrated....Copy protection is in the form of a color picture in the manual or on a photographic sheet. The copy protection scheme is very similar to the one used for Future Wars. You must match a particular pattern from the color picture in the manual with the same pattern on a black and white display onscreen.
Many people, including myself and those color impaired, find this test impossibly difficult. If you get the color wrong you must reboot the game. They should have at least given us three tries or even dispensed with such an onerous copy protection scheme.
Cheats, Hints, Walkthrough
Conclusions:Stealth is an excellent game. Though the graphics suffer in comparison with the striking artistic renditions in Future Wars. Stealth's humor is good but not quite up to the standard of its predecessor. Still, it is clever, well-conceived and stands up admirably to the competition. For anyone who enjoyed Future Wars, this game is recommended. Unless, of course, you happen to devleop nervous disorders from difficult arcade sequences, or have a color deficiency or color impaired condition.
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