Review: 007 Legends proves that this spy needs his license revoked
Last year was a very good year for James Bond, I thought. Despite the fact there wasn't a new movie, Goldeneye Reloaded did a solid job updating a classic game with an above-average single player campaign, revolving around Daniel Craig. But it's funny – this year we do have a James Bond movie coming out, with Skyfall arriving next month, and NOW he's getting something that isn't up to snuff. It's like he just can't get a good thing going between both mediums.
007 Legends attempts to take the Bond legacy even further by throwing in events from five classic films, taking out the legendary actors who were playing as Bond and replacing them with current star Craig. It's a weird placement, and seeing girls with looks out of the 60's and 70's in modern day Bond world is a bit confusing. But that's the least of this game's problems, as inconsistent gameplay and the lack of a satisfying ending will certainly leave gamers shaken, not stirred.
The story ties in with Skyfall, with Bond tussling with a guy atop a train before he's accidentally shot by a fellow agent. He falls into the icy water below, then inexplicably launches into flashbacks chronicling his previous adventures, which follow such films as Goldfinger, Die Another Day, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Licence To Kill and Moonraker. It's never really explained how these all tie together – Activision's just telling you to go with it.
Transition is a small part of Legends' problems. Though the change in scenery is easy to accept, the change in pace really isn't. One minute you're frantically fighting your way through Blofeld's base, killing agents as you're constantly being screamed at to get to a helicopter. Fast moving, right? Then everything STOPS when you get to Blofeld's office, and you're asked to uselessly scan for fingerprints and hack into an under-the-desk circuit so you can take a picture of a map. Then it ramps back up again, then down, then…ugh. It's like the developers at Eurocom wanted you to have the whole Bond experience, but couldn't figure out the best tone to deliver it.
What's more, most of the gameplay just doesn't click. The gunplay is acceptable, though sometimes you'll hit an enemy like six or seven times and they'll conveniently drop you with one shot of a rocket launcher. The stealth segments completely suck, as one minute guards don't see you standing right in front of them, and the next they can see you barely peeking around a corner. Driving stages get nowhere fast because the controls feel like hazards to the player, as you crash into walls and lose track of your target. (Just try out On Her Majesty's ski sequence and you'll see what we mean.) Finally, the game's fisticuff system should've been done away with. It's made up of prompts using the analog sticks and shoulder buttons, and it's uneventful – especially since you can just pull out a gun and shoot someone. What's the point?
Also, the game is miserable when it comes to letting you handle iconic moments. Sure, you'll get into fistfights with the likes of Jaws and Oddjob, but when it comes to delivering the final blow, the game does that for you. It robs you of the most rewarding opportunities. You can't even do anything during Goldfinger's laser sequence. Why even include it?!
007 Legends also has an up-and-down presentation. Some of the level designs are good, but the frame rate likes to bounce around quite a bit, to the point you're unsure if the developer did post-production clean-up. The character models are all right (Goldfinger looks like his 1964 self), but some of them are cheaply and inexplicably replaced – as if we couldn't figure out that Halle Berry wasn't playing Jinx in the Die Another Day chapter. This is actually a step down from Goldeneye, if you can believe that.
The sound is okay, thanks to some quality music delivered by a strong orchestra, as well as decent voice acting from several Bond vets. However, some audio stuff repeats too much, like when Felix Leiter tells you "Cover me, cover me!", even when you are. (Oh, and for the record, when he tells you to hack the server, he doesn't cover you at all. Jerk.) It gets incredibly annoying.
But perhaps the worst thing about 007 Legends is that it's not complete. You get levels from the five movies, but the finale, which should bring back Bond to finish things up in Skyfall, ISN'T ON THE DISC. I'm dead serious. Activision is planning to release these levels once the movie comes out in November, as part of a free download.
Aside from a jarring single player campaign, 007 Legends does have multiplayer. It's good, especially the four-player local split-screen, which returns, but aside from some new levels, there's nothing here that evolves the experience. Goldeneye offers a similar set-up, and you can score that game for much cheaper.
007 Legends had a great idea to build on, but Eurocom misses the shot on several occasions, between bland gameplay segments, technical frustrations and the missing ending that fans deserve. If you need a quintessential Bond experience, go with Goldeneye.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]