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Developer: Gigawatt Studios OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Gremlin Interactive 1 Player
Game Type: Adventure Memory Card
Review Date: January 1999 Standard Joypad

Setting the Scene

Men In Black - The game of the movie?  Hmmm.  I can count on one 
hand the number of quality movie tie-ins there have been and still 
have two fingers left to stick up at the companies who churned out 
the Playstation versions of Independence Day, Batman Forever and 
The Crow - City of Angels.  Let's see if Gremlin have got it right. 

It was during the 1950's that the US government set up a small agency 
whose sole purpose was to contact alien life force from another world.  
The agents became know as "Men In Black" referring to their dress code 
- cool black suits and Ray Bans.  Very few knew of the agencies 
existence, even less people took it seriously.

Contact with an alien race was made in 1962 by seven MiB agents but at 
the time they were operating outside the governments jurisdiction.  
The agency had to quickly raise funds to stay afloat so they established 
patents on weird alien innovations such as Velcro and liposuction.

These days the Men In Black act as intergalactic patrolmen protecting 
the Earth from alien scum.


Men In Black is a mission based adventure game which involves 
searching for clues, solving puzzles and of course blasting alien 
enemies.  There are over 200 locations spread over three vast levels 
and a rather tricky opening initiation course.


Let's get one thing straight immediately.  Men In Black ain't 
quite Resident Evil 2 in the graphical department (despite what 
you may already have read elsewhere) but it does take past Adventure 
games, such as Fade to Black, to a new height.

To begin with the FMV intros and quality silicon graphics cut scenes 
which we have become accustomed to, are non existent.  Similar to 
the movie the developers have instead opted for a series of comic 
book still-shots to link the story with the in-game action.  
Furthermore many gamers will not make it past the opening level 
because it is dogged by some of the most atrocious camera angles 
I have ever witnessed.  The difference in visuals between the New York 
initiation level and Mission One in the Arctic is staggering leaving 
me wondering why it was ever left in the final edit.  It really does 
give you the impression that some apprentice developer was let loose 
on the game for a few weeks before the real graphical animators turned 
up to show him how it should be done properly.  Trying to judge several 
jumps from rooftop to rooftop when the camera is set about 60 feet high 
almost took my patience to the end of my tether, not to mention several 
damaged control pads thrown in anger.

Aching with stress and tension I decided on a good nights sleep before 
reloading for my first real mission which thrusts you into the heart of 
a weather station set in the snowy arctic regions.  The backdrops are 
incredibly smooth with no sign of glitching or pop-up.  Suddenly the 
characters become larger than life allowing you to easily manoeuvre 
them around the atmospheric sets, spotting clues and evidence to allow 
the mystery to gradually unfold.

Each of the three playable agents in black look remarkably like their 
movie counterparts by using a process where profiles of their faces 
have been photographed and then wrapped around a pre-rendered wire-frame 
head.  This is an excellent touch which almost offers the feeling that 
you are taking part in an interactive movie and can be quite spooky 
at times.

The camera angles are intelligently placed in a style reminiscent of 
the Capcom classics which is probably where the similarity between 
the two games may be drawn.  Rather than swoop around following the 
character the camera remains at a static three quarter angled position 
offering a helpful view which captures the entire playing area presently 
under investigation.

Sounds and Effects

Most of the background sound effects are accurate adding further 
atmosphere to the surroundings.  On entering the abandoned mining 
areas the constant drip, drip, dripping of water is always present 
while all other sounds from hollow footsteps to the deafening recoil 
of gunshots have a slight echoing effect tagged on for good measure.  
In the Arctic and Amazon levels every movement results in a sound 
relative to the surface you are crossing over, be it the crunching of 
freshly fallen snow, the frozen boardwalks creaking and groaning or a 
deadly silence broken only by the noise of scattered twigs snapping 
underfoot in the heat of the jungle.

Men in Black prefers to offer real life sounds in the background rather 
than a constant booming soundtrack.  Occasionally you are given a blast 
from the movies theme music but more often you are treated to the eerie 
sound of the frozen wind howling through the rafters or in warmer 
climates the constant racket of crickets.

The characters occasionally throw in a few one-liners which sadly 
lack the humorous touch that was present in the movie.


The gameplay follows the tried and trusted Strategy/Adventure formula 
which involves wandering around the scenery picking up useful objects, 
various health and weapon power ups, while blasting a selection of alien 
and humanoid enemies.

Before the fun begins the player must select one of the three main 
protagonists from the  Men In Black movie to carry out each of the 
three missions.  
Agent J is James Edwards an ex New York cop.  
Agent L is Laurel Weaver the former coroner who became the organizations 
first female member.  
Finally there is the highly experienced but mysterious Agent K.  
Not only does each have their own individual appearance but they all 
have different strengths and fighting styles.

Ignoring the fact that you have hopefully stumbled through the opening 
initiation level you must then guide your character to the briefing 
room in the MiB HQ where you will receive your mission orders.  From 
this point you are advised to visit the armory where you may select 
one item from the full range of the seven high powered weapons that 
were first seen in the movie.  To help with your choice there is a 
training facility available in the form of a shooting gallery in which 
you can try a little target practice before hitting the streets.  
This option is advisable because your character has a different reaction 
with each weapon.  Some are so large that they will radically reduce 
the speed that your character can move around the level while others 
produce a kick that can propel a person several feet backwards.  
Take care.

No sooner have you been 'dropped off' at the opening destination 
when you are thrust into your first battle.  Combat takes two forms.  
The first is hand to hand where a combination of the attack button 
and directional pad allows your MiB to kick, punch, block or sidestep 
the enemy.  Unfortunately the controls are slow and clumsy and this 
action is about as useful as using the knife in Resident Evil.  Two 
health bars appear on screen with each blow seeing a reduction in life.  
I heartily recommend that you take one of the two other courses of action.  
The first being to draw one of your weapons and pump the enemy full of 
lead.  The second is to pack up and run away but you could miss out on 
a vital piece of information that your foe may be carrying.  Seeming as 
ammo is in short supply I found the best policy was to shoot a couple 
of rounds into their bodies before finishing them off with a good old 
fashioned kicking.

The control system is a little slow to respond but is fairly well set out.  
Face buttons may be configured to jump, run, attack and pick up/use item.  
Shoulder buttons cycle through collected objects and weapons while the 
select button opens the inventory screen.  There is no option for the 
analog controller but the new Ascii Resident Evil pad works a treat.

Most of you will have played this type of adventure game before but for 
those who have not the formula is relatively straightforward.
Approach ticket machine - require money.
Kill doctor - take his credit card.
Request information - only for a travel ticket.
Back to ticket machine - use credit card.
Exchange ticket for info - proceed.

Successfully complete the Arctic mission and you may advance onto the 
Amazon and finally Frailes Island.

Value for Money

Difficult one this.  If I suggest you rent first then most of 
you would not take the time to pass the first level.  Persevere and 
there is a good game within although with only three missions lastability 
does come into question.
GRAPHICS: 16/20 I suggest that Gremlin quickly get a cheat code out to allow the opening level to be skipped otherwise I fear many gamers may give up long before reaching the real game.
Once past this annoying section MiB opens up into a playable adventure and manages to hold your attention until the next frustration arrives. This is in the Temple of Amazon where you must guide your character over a series of jumps across a number of moving platforms. Once again poor control and an unhelpful viewing angle ruins the flow of the game leaving your character falling from the cliff edge over and over again.
Overall Men In Black is worth checking out, although don't expect it to be in the same class as Resident Evil 2... but then what is?
SOUND: 6/10
VALUE: 14/20


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