2012 couldn’t be bigger in terms of the James Bond franchise. We are celebrating 50 adventure filled, gadget packed years of 007 cinematic supremacy. It’s just a shame that since Goldeneye on the N64, James Bond games have been lacking. Unfortunately James Bond: 007 Legends does nothing to rectify this problem.
So to coincide with this milestone and the new SKYFALL feature film starring Daniel Craig, developer Eurocom along with Activision present us with another FPS intended to win our hearts. Eurocom recently brought us the GoldenEye 007 Reloaded for Xbox360 which has received some decent reviews, scoring 7.2 out of 10 on MetaCritic. So can they now give us another Bond title we can play for years to come and feel nostalgic about?
Unfortunately, it fails in almost every way.
Legends is all about going back in time and revisiting some of the most iconic Bond movies and these include Goldfinger, Moonraker, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Die Another Day and Licence to Kill. It’s down to a scene taken straight from SKYFALL itself. A fight on top of train goes badly wrong and Bond is sent spiralling down into the water below a bridge where he then recalls these moments and adventures from the classic movies.
The game is therefore played through as the Daniel Craig version of 007, apologises if you are not Craig fan. In each of the missions you play through the key elements that made up the movies whilst using updated tech and weaponry, in an obvious attempt to maintain consistency. Unfortunately it makes for an incredibly bizarre experience and removes any sense of authenticity to the missions. This is made increasingly worse if you don’t know every minute detail and intricacy of all the Bond movies as the game just randomly drops into scenarios with little or no context.
Daniel Craig must have been charging too much for any voice acting, so Eurocom needed to hire a stand-in to play the merciless, cold and detached 00 Agent. Unfortunately I don’t think they dug deep enough and the end result is that of Bond who sounds ill, partially hung-over and very much wooden. Classic and memorable Bond lines being brutally butchered throughout the entire game.
In a small attempt to make up for this, Stars of the previous films were brought in to voice their digital counterparts to try and lend an air of authenticity to proceedings, including Carey Lowell as Licence to Kill’s love interest Pam Bouvier and Toby Stephens as Gustav Graves. But when the game doesn’t even use Halle Berry’s likeness for Die Another Day’s Jinx it’s hard to take any attempt at reverence to the source material seriously.
Legends will never be able to stand up to the Call of Duty series or even the MoH series for that matter. I don’t believe it tried to stand up and be counted amongst these hard hitting, fan favourites, but when you are trying to create a FPS title, you need to get some key elements right to even be in with a chance. Legends just doesn’t come up to scratch. The gunplay is poor, the mini-games suck, and the AI just simply insane. No seriously, they really are. They magically appear out of flowerpots, they dash around like ant’s crisscrossing the battlefield with no real logic or tactic behind their movements and they continue to call for covering fire even in death. The AI is shockingly poor and plagued by bugs including floating helmets and rifles sticking out of a torso instead of being carried.
00 Agents are trained for years. They are killers, licenced to do so, they are spies, intelligence gatherers, they are the men and women responsible (or so we would be told) for completing the most dangerous and life threatening missions that keep our country safe. If you have read any books and watched the movies then you will know that to complete some of these missions and tasks set them by M16, Agents need to be skilled in the art of stealth. Now we aren’t talking about Assassins Creed style skill, but knowing the basics would be a good start. Like hiding a body….
The stealth sections within Legends actually add to the frustration instead of alleviating any of the boredom. You can knock down/subdue enemies with melee sneak attacks or pick them off with silenced weapons, but all of this is wasted when another guard spots the body because the Legends inspired Bond can’t hide the recently departed. Don’t play using stealth. Instead just rush in, all guns a blazing and mow down the wave upon wave of useless AI.
Throughout the game are a series of quicktime events that again try to break spell of dreary action, but these are poor. Quicktime events need to be exciting, intense and make sense to the overall gameplay sought after by the developer. Eurocom seem to have just thrown a bunch of gameplay elements together without thinking how any of these will work together. In 1999, SEGA released Shenmue on the Dreamcast console, an open world RPG title that has become a fan and cult favourite, especially amongst the Dreamcast diehards, like myself. 13 years ago Shenmue used quicktime events which were better implemented, polished and made sense compared to the Legends and the slap-dash approach of Eurocom.
Most of the missions end with a boss fight with the film’s respective villain, and while the trailers for the game gave the impression that these would be intense first person melee encounters they instead boil down to the same dreary quicktime events repeated over and over.
Legends although a 2012 title, is dated. Graphics are poor, AI are buggy, level design is basic with little thought to whether or not fans will recognise the locale and the environments are uninspired and bland. Identical corridors, doors and windows (with the exact same view) are copy and pasted with no thought paid to the player or their experience.
James Bond: 007 Legends comes across as nothing more than a cheap and rushed cash in. With both the new movie and 50 year anniversary of Bond, it seems Eurocom and Activision rushed a title out as a quick cash cow movie tie-in. With little more than its name going for it, Legends is worth no more than a 4 out of 10 from me.