007 Legends Review
A competent, but disappointing Bond game.
007 Legends is an interesting concept. In celebration of James Bond’s 50th anniversary (and just in time for the new movie Skyfall), Activision, Eon, MGM and developer Eurocom have created a game in which Daniel Craig’s Bond plays out “past missions” through flashbacks, taken from some of the long-standing franchise’s most iconic films. On paper it’s a solid idea, rife with opportunity for some memorable and varied gameplay sequences and set pieces. Unfortunately, it’s obvious that the game didn’t get the lengthy dev cycle it deserved, and because of this, 007 Legends never quite lives up to its potential.
The story that ties all these disparate films together is pretty thin; taken from the opening of the upcoming Skyfall, Bond is seen fighting an enemy on top of a speeding train. He’s shot, and falls into a body of water, losing consciousness. As he slips into the dream world, he has vivid flashbacks of past missions, and this is where the action begins. You’ll start playing as Bond in Goldfinger, and shift rather quickly through to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, License to Kill, Die Another Day and Moonraker. The game was originally advertised with six missions, and that’s where things start to get a bit weird; the final mission, which assumedly ties everything together, is based on Skyfall- but it’s DLC and can’t be played until November 9th on PlayStation 3, and November 20th on Xbox 360.
Each film has been updated to feature Daniel Craig as Bond; you’ll find no Sean Connery, George Lazenby or Roger Moore here. Some diehard fans may take issue with this, or the fact that all the missions are updated to take place in the present- modern technology and all. The Call Of Duty influence on this game permeates throughout, and at first glance, it could easily be mistaken for an entry in the military-shooter franchise. 007 Legends ticks all of the COD boxes: slow-motion breaches, explosions galore, minigun sequences on a helicopter, and my personal pet peeve- hordes of enemies that respawn infinitely until you barrel through them to the next checkpoint. After the third mission, you’ll feel a sense of repetition set in- sneak into (or, more likely, kill everyone in) an enemy base, find the enemy lair, break out your handy smartphone, find evidence, and run like hell backwards to escape the flood of henchmen before boxing with the main villain.
Yes, every chapter concludes with a Punch-Out!!-style analog-stick brawl. They’re kind of fun the first few times (though admittedly clunky and awkward-looking), but like everything else, it grows tired when it’s rehashed again and again. The core shooting mechanics, thankfully, are solid and engaging, but what else would you expect from a game using a modified Call Of Duty engine? It’s a good thing that the gunfights are entertaining, because you’ll find yourself in them almost constantly.
Although you can try to play the game with a stealthy approach, it almost never works out. The stealth sections are just undeniably dated- you can’t move bodies, the enemies’ line of sight is inexplicably erratic, and once you’re spotted you’re back to gunning down an entire army again. The game features an upgrade system, but it’s a bit convoluted and I ended up forgetting all about it most of the time. I will say that players should spring for the health and regenerative upgrades as soon as possible; these will be indispensable in the later firefights. In some missions where stealth is forced, you’ll insta-fail the mission when spotted, which leads me to another frustration- the game’s unreasonably long load times. Prepare to wait 45-60 seconds every time the enemy guns you down. Call Of Duty games never had this problem, and it wasn’t like that in last year’s Goldeneye: Reloaded, so what gives?
The game may be very generic and mostly unpolished, but there are redeeming factors. The graphics are pretty sharp- especially facial animation. As I stated previously, the gunplay is enjoyable and skillfully done. The set pieces can be great, such as driving sequences and a skiing section. The hacking minigames are pretty brainless, and the aforementioned boxing fights aren’t very well done, but at least Eurocom tried to throw some variety in. The biggest highlight for 007 Legends is its multiplayer. Last year’s Goldeneye: Reloaded featured 16 player battles; here it’s cut down to 12, but all modes are still quite fun and addictive. Every time the campaign started to frustrate me, I found myself jumping into the online multiplayer and taking it out on the hapless 10-year-olds who love to scream obscenities and racial slurs. When you’re tired of listening to these idiots (I couldn’t find a player mute function online), you can check out the four-player offline split-screen co-op, which is quite rare in modern shooters.
All told, 007 Legends is a competent, but disappointing shooter. There were quite a few times during the campaign that my pulse pounded and I found myself genuinely enjoying the action and crazy set-pieces. The multiplayer really got its hooks in me. However, for every positive the game has to offer, there’s a negative dragging it back down to mediocrity. With more development time, 007 Legends could have been something special in honor of Bond’s 50th anniversary. Unfortunately, it never quite capitalizes on its potential, and thus is a passable, yet uninspired tie-in to Skyfall.