By Marty Mulrooney
007 Legends is a first-person shooter where the the player takes control of iconic British secret agent James Bond (the game features the likeness of the most recent Bond actor, Daniel Craig). Created by Eurocom (GoldenEye 007: Reloaded), 007 Legends comprises six missions, with each mission based upon a Bond film, one for each actor to have portrayed 007 on-screen. The game is available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows and Wii U.
007 Legends is built upon last year’s GoldenEye 007: Reloaded engine. The game uses the beginning of the most recent Bond film, Skyfall, as its starting point. 007 is shot and left for dead as he plummets from a moving train into deep water. Drifting in and out of consciousness, he recalls past missions (Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Licence to Kill, Die Another Day and Moonraker) which form the basis of each level.
It’s a nice premise in theory, although it does have its fair share of problems. The main issue is that Daniel Craig’s modern take on James Bond has been roughly shoehorned into the plots taken from films spanning the past 50 years. It feels very odd using your smartphone in the lair of a baddie straight out of the 1960s (Blofeld from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) or fighting a villain wearing an electrical suit (Gustav Graves from Die Another Day). Daniel Craig’s Bond was an updated secret agent for the modern age à la Jason Bourne – here, he feels totally out of time and out of place.
Making matters worse, the gameplay is Call Of Duty without the polish. The gameplay is mostly divided between generic shooting and wonky stealth sections. GoldenEye 007 did a decent job balancing shooting with exploration and sneaking – here, the stealth doesn’t work very well at all, which is infuriating when the game insists that it must be used for certain sections. Bodies cannot be moved (the game actually suggests killing people so they die where their bodies won’t be found), and this often results in the alarm being sounded and the section needing to be restarted. The long load times simply add insult to injury.
It isn’t that the shooting is particularly bad – it just doesn’t feel very ‘James Bond’. The films are only used as window dressing. There isn’t any real plot to speak of and there is no narrative thread running from one level to the next. Supporting characters are paper-thin and even the iconic baddies are reduced to end of level boss fights. These fights are always hand-to-hand battles, with the game shouting commands at you in the form of quick time events. Each fight feels exactly the same – sometimes this gameplay mechanic crops up with a lowly henchman as your opponent and the difficulty is exactly the same as when fighting Jaws or Oddjob.
The result is that each level feels exactly the same despite the changes of environment. Bond sneaks around until he is discovered (unless the game decides otherwise). He shoots endless enemies. He dies a lot. He uses his smartphone to hack a door or find a hidden safe. He drives a vehicle briefly… and often very badly, due to the terrible controls employed during these sections. Finally, he chases down the bad guy, has a paint-by-numbers fist fight that is scripted and poses no challenge whatsoever, then repeats it all again ad nauseam. The exception is the Moonraker level, which at least tries something a bit different with its zero-gravity laser gun battles… but it’s too little too late.
The graphics resemble a low-budget game from the PlayStation 2 era, albeit in high-definition. The game never wows visually and by no means feels current gen. The sound is serviceable at best, yet the actor impersonating Daniel Craig, although fairly well cast, often sounds completely bored. It’s the final nail in the coffin of a game that makes no effort whatsoever to embody what actually makes James Bond so special in the first place. Oh, and why is Felix Leiter portrayed as a white man in this game when in the Daniel Craig Bond films he’s played by Jeffrey Wright, a black actor? Oh I get it… HE’S FELIX LIGHTER! (Special thanks to freelance writer Richard Cobbett for promising not to sue me for stealing his joke).
007 Legends is a thoroughly underwhelming disappointment. It isn’t completely broken, but despite its brief length it drags terribly. The online and split screen multiplayer is quite fun at first despite some annoying lag (mostly because it doesn’t try to disguise the fact that it’s a basic shooter and nothing more) but it’s doubtful that anyone will be playing it in 6 months. The final mission (Skyfall) was recently released as free DLC and it is painful to compare the two brief sections on offer with the film upon which it is based, which may very well be the best James Bond film ever made. 007 Legends squanders its potential and fails to capture the spirit of James Bond. What’s left is a mediocre experience at best – try the underrated 007: Blood Stone instead, which was created by the now closed Bizarre Creations studio and did a much better job of capturing the spirit of the more recent 007 screen outings.
5 OUT OF 10