You wake up in a beautiful house on the beach. In the next room, a phone is ringing. You check your objectives. They read: “Answer the phone. A phone is ringing, answer it.” You are 007.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. James Bond is not only an icon of the silver screen, but 1997’s GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64 is heralded as one of the best shooters of all time. In the years since, several developers have taken the James Bond license and attempted to emulate GoldenEye’s success, all resulting in varying degrees of failure. That isn’t to say they were all bad—there were some diamonds in the rough—but nothing of GoldenEye’s caliber. Now, fifteen years later, we have the latest attempt in to recapture that magic in Eurocom’s 007 Legends. For the love of God, please stop.
To their credit, Eurocom hasn’t shamed the Bond license like other developers have. They developed the recent and well-received GoldenEye 007 remake for the Nintendo Wii, as well as the retooled follow-up GoldenEye 007: Reloaded. With 007 Legends, Eurocom raised the stakes, tackling some of the most beloved Bond films of all time. To say that they didn’t do them justice is such an understatement, it’s criminal. They’ve replaced Sean Connery, widely considered to be the best of the Bonds, with a guy doing a shitty impression of Daniel Craig. It couldn’t feel more appropriate.
There are two core problems with 007 Legends, one that makes it a bad Bond game and one that makes it a bad game, period. The first is that it’s clearly designed as a balls-to-the-wall shooter in the vein of Call of Duty. That isn’t who James Bond is. You would think that these people haven’t even seen Goldfinger, License to Kill or any of the other films their adapting. Sloppy stealth mechanics and a one-button all-encompassing melee system do not make me feel like a super spy.
The second problem is that it’s one of the laziest shooters to come out in some time, and only a month prior to Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, no less. I’m not singing Call of Duty’s praises, simply saying that if you’re going to time your release so close to the series that you seem to be mimicking, you should try to mimic its quality as well.
The story begins Bond taking a bullet, falling off of a speeding train, and plunging in a body of water. As he sinks, his like flashes before his eyes, which is how our journey begins. The gameplay kicks off with the Goldfinger chapter, which is a smart move. Bond fans are lured in with the familiar image of Jill Masterson’s golden corpse. If you’re not a Bond fan, this is going to be difficult to follow. 007 Legends doesn’t adapt each film in its entirety. Instead, it aims to capture the most exciting portions of Goldfinger, License to Kill, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Die Another Day, and Moonraker. Newcomers to the franchise need not bother. What little fun there is to be had lies in recognizing elements from the different films. If you’re not familiar, you’ll just be jumping from one out-of-context event to the next and, while you’ll be able to piece it all together, there’s no actual ongoing narrative to get invested in. For the uninitiated, it’s just a series of spoilers without all of the fun stuff.
The bulk of 007 Legends consists of making your way through interchangeable corridors and shooting guards in the face using the game’s all-too-generous auto aim. Every now and again you’ll arrive at the office of one of the villain’s, where you’ll have to whip out your phone and scan for fingerprints and hack electronics. The formula couldn’t be more uninspired and it starts to feel repetitive before the game even starts repeating it. One of the hacking minigames involves nine multicolored spheres that you have to rotate in order to match the colors. It’s not the worst minigame, but it’s a little lengthy, which really kills all of the momentum when you’re trying to make haste.
If you don’t quite feel like a super spy, maybe the poor AI will lift your spirits. The enemies often time take cover, though when they do, a significant portion of their body hangs out from whatever they’re hiding behind. There are of course those who feel that cover is beneath them and choose to stand out in the open while firing at you. Their “sitting duck” status is hardly a hindrance, as they’re resilient cotton tees can withstand a healthy dose of bullets.
The game has it’s fair share of silly bugs. Some seem accidental, some seem like lazy design. At one point a body went off a building and plummeted towards a helicopter. I was curious to see what would happen, as this didn’t feel like the kind of game that would display the extreme violence of a corpse being eviscerated by a whirling chopping blade. I wasn’t that surprised when the body went through the blade and subsequently through the helicopter like it wasn’t even there.
There are a few escort missions scattered about, as if to you remind you that you are in fact playing a terrible game. There’s a part where Bond has to follow a character to a destination. The character specifically says “stay behind me.” You’ll then sit there, stumped, because to kick off the section you have to immediately lead the way. Your AI partners will get stuck in physical loops, as well as repeat sound bytes to a dizzying degree.
There are so many forced moments in the quest for excitement. There’s a sequence in the Die Another Day segment where, as you fight your way towards the nefarious Gustave Graves, something similar to an ion cannon begins firing out of the sky as Graves throws everything he’s got at you. The henchmen are not immune to this laser and as you jive and juke your way from cover to cover, henchmen are being killed from the sky. Is it exciting? Sure is, until you notice henchmen intentionally running into the laser. After a while, you realize that not only does the laser not pose a threat to you, but it acts as a great ally. Where’s the tension in that?
Then there are the boss battles, in which you fight several iconic Bond villains by moving the joysticks either up or down and hitting one or both of the shoulder buttons. What awful game experience would be complete without tedious quicktime events replacing what should be incredibly exciting moments?
I know that at this point it seems like I’m just digging up flaws that could be easily considered nitpicks and might be overlooked in a different games. I am. There are plenty of games that are so satisfying as a whole that you can easily look pass minor missteps. Then there are games like 007 Legends that are so devoid of fun that each tiny hindrance is simply another moment of frustration.
So, after an absolute chore of a campaign, are we at least rewarded with a spectacular 007-worthy ending? Nope. In fact, there’s no ending at all. We’re never shown what becomes of Bond after the fall from the train, because that’s a sequence from Skyfall, the latest Bond film, which wasn’t even in theaters are the time of the game’s release. In an effort to not spoil the film, the Skyfall portion of the game is free DLC that wasn’t available at the time of release. As far as I know, it’s available now for PS3 and PC and will be available on November 20th for Xbox 360. Yes, as of the time of this writing, those who purchased the game for Xbox 360 at release (over a month ago) haven’t seen the ending as they’re still waiting to download it. I vaguely recall that back when DLC was first starting to manifest, someone made a joke about buying a game and then having to pay more to download the ending. It’s sort of like that, except at least it’s free.
With the campaign in the bag, there are ten challenge missions you can undertake that place you in various locations from the game with different objectives. If the game were fun, the challenges would be fun. They’re not.
The multiplayer is probably the best aspect of 007 Legends, if only because you don’t have to deal with the AI, stealth mechanics, or quicktime events. That doesn’t mean it’s good. In recent years, the multiplayer FPS scene has gotten as serious as a heart attack and there’s simply no place and no excuse for gameplay this dull and sloppy. There are a handful of modes, some of which have been shamelessly lifted from the Call of Duty series. One of the modes lets you play as different villains, some of which have their own unique abilities. If you play as Oddjob, you get to throw his hat. Fortunately for Eurocom, that’s worth a point right there.
To my recollection, this is the nastiest review I’ve ever written and I didn’t enjoy a single moment of it. There’s no excuse for the absolute lack of quality in 007 Legends. It feels completely rushed, which it probably was, and in doing so they’ve churned out one of the worst titles to ever carry the 007 name. It’s a godawful shooter with nothing more than a James Bond skin and every gamer would do well to steer clear of it.
Here’s The Rundown:
+Nostalgia is a powerful force
+There is the occasional exciting event
– Bad AI
– Lazy shooting mechanics
– Lazy stealth mechanics
– Boring quicktime boss battles
1 (RIP) to 4 are varying degrees of a bad game. A 1 (RIP) being a game you would actually pay money to not play, and a 4 is something that just fails to reach even the not-so-lofty level of “mediocre.”
007 Legends was developed by Eurocom and published by Activision. It was released on October 16, 2012, for Xbox 360 and PS3 at the MSRP of $59.99, and November 1, 2012 for Microsoft Windows at the MSRP of $49.99. A copy was provided by the publisher to RipTen for the purposes of review.