With a major movie release on the precipice of release, James Bond returns to the video game world. 007 Legends is the first game in the series to combine multiple Bond films into one complete experience. This will be the 4th James Bond game that Eurocom has created, with notable mentions of Goldeneye 007, Nightfire, and The World is not Enough. With such a deep history with the franchise, Eurocom has the chance to take the Bond mythos and create something outstanding. Let’s see if 007 Legends makes the grade.
The game opens up with a spicy spoiler from the new movie, Skyfall. James Bond is heavily injured and left for dead, and as he drifts off towards what could be the end of his life. He recollects on all of the missions in which he barely survived. From Goldfinger to Die Another Day, we are placed into the shoes of Bond throughout the years. Unfortunately… players are not placed into the rolls of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, or even George Lazenby. Instead, all of these roles are portrayed by our latest Martini sipper, Daniel Craig.
With the modernization of James Bond comes the upgrading of the stories. Okay, that’s actually being really lenient in comparison to what actually happens with these stories. It can be nothing less than a heavy downgrade for some of the more appealing Bond films. The story for Goldfinger is truncated so much that it becomes a mostly incoherent mess. The way that he meets Pussy Galore is glossed over, and the removal of the Cat and Mouse dynamic between Goldfinger and James is disheartening.
From there on the game continues to trapeze from Die Another Day, to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and so on. Bond doesn’t seem to be recalling any of these missions for any particular reason. It’s almost like he wanted to relive his glory days before he died, as the only significant memory out of them all would be the woman he loved in OHMSS. Everything else lacks any kind of flavor to the character; it’s just a really poor way of combining multiple movies.
The changes from the movies create a really formulaic combat situation. Eurocom has placed James in all of his famous stories, in the most high-octane and often most uninteresting ways possible. Battle consists of James getting into a firefight, and then slowing it down for some really boring stealth locations. In these critical sneaking missions, if Bond is caught even once… he has to start all over again from the beginning. I’ll touch on this a bit more as I get further down the list, but for now onto what the game believes is entertainment.
If you’ve played Goldeneye 007, or any Call of Duty game that has ever existed. The shooting gallery style of game play will be familiar to you. Players can choose from a variety of weapons that don’t seem to vary as much as they let on. There is an in-game store to purchase upgrades for weapons, you can buy scopes, compensators, and silencers to personalize your weapon. Well, only if there is a weapon cache around in the level for your upgrade. So these upgrades are pretty pointless until you’ve reached the middle of a level.
The spawning mechanic is in heavy usage in 007 Legends. James will be up against a never ending stream of bad guys, bullets will whiz by and the next batch of dunderheads will spill out. This is especially apparent in some of the major fights from Moonraker, OHMSS, Goldfinger, and License to Kill. Since you have to fight your way through the evil bosses’ henchmen, it becomes a battle of attrition and continuously spawning enemies.
Action sequences also make their way into the game, but come up as a series of quick-time events that have Bond narrowly escaping danger. These aren’t too impressive and become long-winded the further the player gets into the game. However, they are infinitely better than the hand-to-hand combat sequences showered throughout the campaign. I don’t think there is anything more boring than matching up the analog stick with an action. That’s pretty much what the melee system equates to, dictating when the push the stick up and down to throw a punch. I don’t know why it was included, but be prepared to utilize it in every single boss fight.
The game also has the nerve to throw in driving sequences, which can only be summed up as a drunken slog through ice and desert. The ski sequence from OHMSS is thrown in, but you end up having to control the vehicle, the speed of it, and where you have to aim to shoot enemies. This is probably the worst idea I have ever seen, and the amount of re-tries from the loading screens will just sicken anyone playing. The other driving sequences are flat out boring and generic point-A-to-point-B sequences.
Bond can use various devices when the game allows the player to be investigative. The phone can toggle between taking Photo’s, scanning for bio-metrics, and sniffing out hidden technology. Players will be able to utilize the phone in various hacking mini-games, but this also feels like something that didn’t need to be added to the title. Each encounter with these boring puzzles brings down the soul of the gameplay that much more. Players can also use grenades, but for some reason you have to hold the square button to acquire them. They aren’t just lying around like most games, so you won’t actively look for them and forget they exist until the game points them out.
The last gadget is a watch that can be used for blowing out electronic devices, or as radar for tracking the enemies during stealth sequences. The electronic devices thing is touted as something that could be used to distract guards, but it only seemed to work for this one particular area during a tutorial. The rest of the time I just used it to knock out the camera systems so I could slink by. The radar is the most annoying piece of the puzzle. James can’t just scan with the radar and attach it to the one that is actually on his U.I., he has to pull the watch out and keep constant track of all baddies in the area. So switching back and forth between this and a weapon is time-consuming and the opposite of intuitive.
The final straw that breaks the camel’s back is the loading times. If you ever die in this title, or are caught by guards during the critical stealth missions, you will have to sit through 45 second loading screens. This occurs throughout the game in its entirety; just moving to a new level will produce an extremely long loading screen. Restarting a checkpoint, loading a new game, messing up a QTE, or doing anything that causes a loading screen will result in 45 seconds of waiting.
Which is absolutely unacceptable since the game is definitely a high-res port of a Wii title. The graphics produce insurmountable jaggies, and the character models lack any sort of luster and polish. I honestly cannot believe that this is being sold as a $60 title, because it feels so much like a budget title that it is impossible to see it over $30. They couldn’t even get Daniel Craig to voice his own likeness, and they obviously couldn’t get the license for Connery, Moore, and all the other Bonds. Not to mention that if you’ve beaten the game before Skyfall comes out, you are left without an ending until the DLC arrives.
So in reality 007 Legends is a sloppy and unfinished cash-in of the James Bond license. There is multi-player, but I am in no way compelled to play it. I feel like the game is a dried up husk of what it should be, and was pushed out of the doorway by Activision so that it could be out in-line with the movie. While that’s acceptable to them, the game itself is not worthy of more than a D for the single-player alone. Eurocom is great at making Bond games, but this one clearly didn’t have enough focus and time to be held in the category of those.