James Bond games rank right there with CSI and Cooking Mama as series that for reasons even not entirely clear to me, I will always play every entry that is released. I guess because Goldeneye generated such good will for me that I’m willing to stick with them. There have been some really good Bond games since (Everything or Nothing, World is Not Enough), some decent ones (Blood Stone, Quantum of Solace, Goldeneye Reloaded), and some not so good ones (Tomorrow Never Dies). Coming off last year’s surprisingly good Goldeneye Reloaded, I was curious to see where they went with 007 Legends, which takes levels from five past Bond movies, instead of making a Skyfall centric game.
Come along with me to find out if this joins the ranks of Goldeneye or Tomorrow Never Dies.
The set-up for this game is strange. It starts with a scene from Skyfall where Bond is accidentally shot by a sniper while on top of a train. As he falls down to the water below, he starts to have flashbacks of his past adventures. From there we journey through five past films, with Daniel Craig in place of all the previous Bond actors. It’s a very clunky and disjointed narrative, to the point where I wonder if it would have just been better to select a movie individually and not bother having a connecting story thread.
You’ll play through Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Licence to Kill, Die Another Day and Moonraker, with Skyfall being added later as DLC. They may seem like strange choices but for the most part I do get it. Clearly they wanted a movie to represent each of the six bond actors. With Lazenby you have no choice, with Dalton you don’t have much choice, but Moonraker for Moore? Really? Die Another Day would be strange but all the other Brosnans have already been made into games so I get why they went with this one.
Once you start playing the actual missions it becomes very clear very quickly that this isn’t exactly going to remain completely faithful to these movies. Remember that scene in Goldfinger where Bond guns down over a hundred guys while infiltrating Goldfinger’s lair? Or the scene in Secret Service where he mans a mini-gun in order to mow down another hundred bad guys? Not so much? I haven’t seen these movies in quite a while but you know what, me neither.
Ok so obviously they are trying to capture the Call of Duty market with this but aren’t enough games going after that game market? I don’t want my Bond games to be mindless shooting galleries. I want to feel like an actual spy. I want a more polished Alpha Protocol with the Bond licence. Granted there are stealth mechanics here, but they are terrible. As satisfying as it can be to sneak around with a silent pistol, popping guys in the head so as to not alert anyone, it only lasts a few seconds before inevitably being caught. You can’t peak around corners, you can’t hide bodies, and although there’s a meter to show how alert a guard is to your presence, I’ve been spotted through walls, behind crates, and sometimes even when I’m in a completely different room, so the meter means nothing. Some sections require you to go through undetected and it’s an exercise in frustration and trial and error. Thankfully these sequences are few and far between, but I was always ready to turn the game off when they showed up. You do get to do some hacking and investigating (every level is you fighting your way through a lair, investigating the villain’s office, and then fighting your way out), but they never amount to anything more than dull mini-games that are repeated far too often.
Every level ends with a boss fight and wow, I sure hope you weren’t waiting for anything exciting here. Picture if thy took Punch-Out and made it into a quick time event. Doesn’t sound very fun does it? You would be correct. This is unfortunately how every boss fight plays out so if you have ever played a video game before in your life, you should be just fine. Even if you haven’t so long as you have functioning eyeballs, you’ll be good. Sometimes you even have to stop and fight random guards in this fashion, which just seems silly since you easily dispatch hundreds of them through the course of each level without even breaking a sweat.
There are some chase sequences to switch up the mindless shooting, on skis, and in a car. The skiing one was actually a highlight but is over far too quickly. The Die Another Day car chase is ok, though isn’t the car supposed to be invisible? There’s also a zero gravity sequence near the end of the Moonraker campaign that I was a little impressed by. The game could have used more moments like these, but alas they are very short-lived and before too long you will always find yourself back in a nondescript corridor shooting the same enemies again and again.
The campaign will last you about 5 hours and ends abruptly, until we get the Skyfall DLC in a few weeks. After that, there are a few other options to keep your interest. The online multiplayer is serviceable but laggy, and I’ll go ahead and predict it will be very difficult to find games in just a couple of weeks time. Thankfully there is also split screen. You also have Spec Ops style individual missions, but once I hit the infiltration ones I had to stop because fuck the stealth in this game.
007 Legends is the most disappointed I have been in a Bond game. The shooting feels fine, but it feels fine in a million other games too. The stealth is very poorly implemented, and the mini-games are dull and repetitive. The campaign is over all too quickly and while the online is ok, I don’t think it will last very long and I’ve encountered lag in all the matches I’ve had so far. Maybe I’ll revisit things once the Skyfall DLC comes out, but it’s going to have to be pretty amazing to fully redeem this one.