It’s not often that you get to take a trip down memory lane, re-living memories from the world’s greatest secret agent. Sadly, James Bond’s past glories aren’t quite as I remember them from the films and the word ‘secret’ doesn’t really factor in when you are forced to gun down every guard in sight.
Activision’s, 007 Legends opens with a scene from the upcoming Skyfall, Daniel Craig is doing a spot of fist-fighting with a guard on top of a fast moving train, when is shot in the arm by a distant sniper. Our hero staggers and falls from the train, plummeting into a river below. While he is busy drowning his life appears to flash before his eyes in a series of playable missions from the past 50 years of Bond.
The missions are taken from Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, License to Kill, Die Another Day and Moonraker (in that order, for some reason) and each are set in the modern day to account for Daniel Craig replacing the likes of Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Roger Moore. Despite the obvious reasons for doing this and the attempt to tie all the stories together, frankly, it’s rather odd seeing Daniel Craig strapped to a table with a big gold-cutting laser aimed at his crotch.
Missions from the films are also fairly un-recognisable for fans of the films. You will see the odd sequence that remains true to it’s original (like the cable-car fight with Blofeld), but save from those few landmarks, it’s a whole new world for Bond. While updating some of the villains lairs wouldn’t be a terrible thing to do, unfortunately, it’s not done in the best way – with many of the interiors being fairly bland in appearance.
Unfortunately the missions also mirror the same repetitive formula throughout. This goes something like: Run and gun down every guard in sight, use your Sony Xperia Smartphone (a touch of product placement of course) to scan for fingerprints and evidence, hack a computer, open a safe, stealth past some guards/cameras and then punch a few people to death before taking on the main villain. The order of the above is variable for each mission with the addition of a car chase in one or two.
These involve commandeering Bond’s Aston Martin and other vehicles to chase down villains, whilst dodging RPGs, Laser fire or anything else that explodes. These are actually really fun and a welcome break from the shooty shooty that makes up the rest of the game.
The (anti)climax of each mission is going toe to toe with the villain of the film (Odd Job, Blofeld, Gustav Graves etc) and entering a number of scripted command prompts to punch them into next week. This aspect feels horribly lazy and far too easy when you consider that you facing off against some of the greatest criminals the world has ever seen.
In terms of a shooter, 007 Legends is not bad, but it’s not great either. There’s an excellent selection of weapons and attachments, but the whole thing feels very much like a poor man’s Call of Duty, as you massacre legions of faceless grunts whilst moving between checkpoints. AI is near non-existent, with enemies often taking cover behind explosive barrels (never a good plan) and sometimes running right up to you. You could argue that this is a case of a guard trying to be a hero, earning himself the title of “The man who killed James Bond”, but sadly I suspect that it is just down to poor programming.
Gadgets! That’s something that James Bond has in abundance right? Sort of. The modern interpretation of 007 means that our man comes equipped with a watch which acts as an radar and small scale EMP, plus a Smartphone for hacking and scanning evidence. You unlock a fountain pen which fires tranquilizer darts on the third mission, but without the ability to hide bodies, you might as well use the standard silent PP9 pistol given to you at the beginning of each mission.
All in all, the missions on offer here will give Mr. Bond’s trigger finger plenty of exercise, as even on some of the stealth sections, I got so frustrated that I decided it was easier to lose my secret agent street-cred and just annihilate all the enemies with an AK-47. This is totally fine for the most part and doesn’t really offer any negative consequences, but it does leave you with a the hollow feeling of knowing you are MI5’s worst spy.
Despite all my criticisms though, the game does have some redeeming qualities. For instance, the character design is very good with famous faces like Jaws and Odd Job looking just as they should. The game also has a fairly decent multiplayer mode, which works well as a standalone aspect. Players will earn XP through the various modes and earn the ability to unlock upgrades and attachments for their favourite weapons. How long this will keep players coming back though is anyone’s guess, as it’s pretty tough to compete with the more established online FPS titles out there.
The Sum Up
I’m a pretty big Bond fan (I sometimes sit in our swivel chair with my cat Jasper practicing my villainy) and so like many of you, I was understandably quite excited to hear about a game which would take me on a whistle-stop tour of the some of the best moments in Bond history. Sadly, 007 Legends failed to meet my nostalgic expectations.
Don’t get me wrong, this game is by no means terrible. This was simply an excellent opportunity to make an incredible game whilst paying homage to some of the finest films in British history, but unfortunately it’s depressingly average in so many ways, with few stand-out moments and ultimately flies in the face of almost everything Ian Flemming created. There is also far to much punching, which I feel is an insufficient way to dispatch a master-villain. But then, what do I know? I never really liked the karate chop in Goldeneye 64.
Version reviewed: Xbox 360