This year marks the 50th anniversary of the James Bond filmic franchise. A pretty good-sized deal is being made of this, including the release of the 23rd official film in the franchise, Skyfall, and the new Bond videogame, 007 Legends. Word of mouth has it that Skyfall is one of the best films the franchise has released in years. 007 Legends is nowhere near as good.
In fact, 007 Legends is downright bad. For a videogame franchise that brought us the absolutely legendary GoldenEye—a title people went out and bought N64s in order to play—to sink this low is hard to swallow, no matter how long ago GoldenEye came out, is sad.
007 Legends is a movie tie-in game. Rather than focusing on one movie though, it has bits and pieces of Skyfall, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Goldfinger, Die Another Day, Moonraker, and Licence to Kill. For those keeping score at home, that’s one title for everyone who has played Bond in the official franchise. For all of these missions you’re the Daniel Craig-looking James Bond but are voiced by some pseudo-sound-alike.
Exactly why the developers couldn’t get Craig to do the voice is unclear, and having the Craig look with a different voice is a very questionable choice in and of itself. It smacks of needing the Craig look because Craig is the current Bond and there’s a new movie coming out rather than doing something more sensible like have a Sean Connery impersonator do the voice on a Connery-looking Bond (Sean Connery being a voice a lot of people seem to be very good at). The lack of Craig gets even weirder when you consider that they have Judi Dench voicing M, Rory Kinnear voicing Bill Tanner (he plays Tanner in Skyfall and in Quantum of Solace), Richard Kiel voicing Jaws, Naomie Harris voicing Eve (a Skyfall character she plays), and Toby Stephens voicing Gustav Graves (a character he plays in Die Another Day).
Fine, forget that, the unfortunate truth is that 007 Legends fails on so many other levels as well. First and foremost amongst these – gameplay. The controls are bad. They’re just plain bad. While the controller has multiple schemes, none are ones which make logical sense to me; they all have bits and pieces I like but none that are what I want as a whole. There are terrible quick time-like boxing events so Bond can do a little fisticuffs and they’re all boring due to their oversimplification (hitting high or low with the right or left and blocking left or right). Controlling Bond when he’s on a vehicle or some similar thing is dreadful – a skiing level in the OHMSS section feels more like a chore than spending a full day doing laundry. There were moments during it when I seriously considered never picking the game up again.
Some of 007 Legends allegedly requires stealth. Or, the game would want you to act stealthily during bits of it all. The are cameras that can spot you and guards that can see you, and if you discharge the wrong weapon, they’re going to be able to hear it. Happily, James Bond is a master of stealthy techniques and his Walter PPK comes equipped with a silencer. All you have to do is eliminate the baddies one by one, pulling each and every bad guy out of the way after you kill them, right?
Yeah, wrong. Inexplicably (really, there is absolutely no possible reason for this), you’re not allowed to move people you kill. For years, games that have asked you to be stealthy have allowed dead bodies to be moved. It is not as though the developers would have to reinvent the wheel here. Then, when the dead body you left is spotted, well, somehow, more often than not the bad guys will know exactly where you are even if you’ve moved since making your ill-fated stealth kill. You are just better off killing the first bad guy normally and then positioning yourself appropriately and picking off the next umpteen enemies one-by-one as they peek around a corner. Seriously, the AI isn’t very good and they’ll keep sticking their necks out no matter how many you shot. The friendly AI isn’t much better as they’ll jump into cover position right behind you, forcing you out of your spot (it’s okay, the cover mechanic isn’t well thought out either).
As for the plot, well, I am just not sure there is all that much I can say about it. For reasons unbeknownst to me and definitely not in any attempt to tell a larger story, moments from the Bond films in question have been drastically altered and reshaped. These reasons don’t appear to have anything to do with the level design, all of which essentially feel the same once you’re inside.
A person who attempted to learn about James Bond movies from playing this game would naturally assume that each and every Bond movie in some way required featured a storming the beach at Normandy-esque moment. They would further surmise that with the use of a wristwatch, cell phone, and ammo picked up off of dead bodies Bond succeeds.
Yes, this is a first person shooter and as such it requires ammo to be picked up off of dead bodies, but the kill count required is incredibly high. Worse tough, it isn’t fun. Going about your business in the game just isn’t enjoyable, and there’s little to no satisfaction upon completing a mission. There is certainly no incentive whatsoever once the mission completion screen appears to go back and try for whatever secondary objectives or other bonuses you may have missed. Even the multiplayer excitement feels dulled.
I am a huge James Bond fan, and it saddens me deeply to say this, but you’re better off passing on this game. At least, you’re better off passing on it until it’s sitting in a bargain bin somewhere and you can get it real cheap. Even then you probably won’t enjoy it, but at least you won’t have spent a lot on it.
007 Legends is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Blood, Drug Reference, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence. This game can also be found on: PC and Xbox 360.