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PLATFORM: 360, PS3
ESRB RATING: T
007 Legends is a game that doesn’t have much going for it in the ways of innovation, but for all Bond fans, you’ll certainly appreciate this bizarre Daniel Craig-washed trip down memory lane through Bond’s “greatest” adventures. I use the term “greatest” loosely, as everybody always has an opinion on what Bond adventure is the “greatest.” Personally, I’m a From Russia With Love/On Her Majesty’s Secret Service guy, but plenty others are Dr. No/Casino Royale-types, which is fine. In the end, Bond is Bond and as a fan, you win because you’re playing his adventures firsthand.
The game isn’t nearly as bad as many would have you believe. While certainly not the most polished game on the market, 007 Legends tries to be interesting and succeeds at points, though falters many times over. Part of that has to do with developer Eurocom’s antiquated approach to first-person shooters, another part is that this is a game that really deserved more time in the oven, but was forced out early due to Skyfall. That’s not a fact, that’s merely opinion.
Hey kids, you like Call of Duty, right? (Yeah!) You like James Bond, right? (Who?) Never mind, you, like covert operations with plenty of guns and Eurotrash baddies who have armies of jerks in matching suits? (Yeah!) Great! Then you’ll love 007 Legends!
James Bond has been shot by Eve Moneypenny while engaging in a scuffle atop a moving train. This is the opening to Skyfall, this is the opening to 007 Legends. While in the water, recovering from near-death, Bond’s previous adventures flash through his brain, allowing the player to engage in battles with Blofeld, Hugo Drax, Jaws and other assorted Bond villains from some of the classic films.
Lifting Call of Duty’s control scheme and presentation, the game puts players in control of the ultimate one-man army, James Bond.
The game makes use of Goldfinger’s opening, as it’s the first Bond adventure you play through. Each adventure is based after each different actor’s portrayal of Bond through the years, so the Connery era gets Goldfinger, while the Brosnan era gets Die Another Day (which is my favorite level in the entire game). Taking all of its cues from Call of Duty is a great idea, as the popular multiplayer series from Activision casts players in the role of lone wolf one-man armies (regardless of whether you think your AI-controlled “Follow” character is actually helping you, they aren’t), this approach makes sense.
Casting Daniel Craig as Bond throughout all of these adventures is strange, though and somewhat jarring. Understandably, using all of the original dudes would be out of the question, but hearing Craig speak to Pussy Galore, Jaws and Gustav Graves is really odd. Craig’s performance isn’t particularly bad, it’s just that the older era of Bond doesn’t quite work with what his interpretation of Bond is trying to accomplish. The opulence of the 80’s-era of Bond just doesn’t suit the more intimate and personal exercises of the modern era.
You run down corridors, sneak around Franz Sanchez’ compound and engage in zero-gravity firefights with relative ease, however; there are interspersed stealth elements that, while difficult and guilty of slowing down the action, are tense and often, fun. Melee and close-quarter combat are my personal favorite avenues of dispatch, as the animations are often brutal and very in tone with how Bond (or Bourne) would take down an enemy nowadays. Kicking a dude’s knee and following that up with an elbow to the throat is particularly satisfying.
There are moments of hand-to-hand combat where Bond engages a classic enemy one on one. Presented via quicktime interface, Bond disarms enemies while also delivering punches to faces and ribs. A particularly fun scrap is with Benicio Del Toro’s Dario during the License To Kill campaign.
The Skyfall mission was released a few weeks after the film and is perhaps the most difficult mission of them all. Chasing Patrice all over the place on foot, on bike, then engaging him in a high-rise as he wields an incredibly powerful sniper rifle was altogether difficult and frustrating. Patrice seems to soak up entirely too much damage for such a non-character, it’s almost absurd, but overall, the Skyfall stuff is fine. Granted, how those events play out on-screen are far more interesting and engaging than the game, but still.
Missions can be formulaic, with Bond infiltrating a lair, going to the baddy’s office and popping open a hidden safe revealing the villain’s master plan before nearly being apprehended by the always-overconfident bad guy. This is what Bond is, though, so I can accept that. While obnoxiously repetitive, the mission design isn’t game-breaking.
Graphically, the game isn’t stellar, but it’s serviceable. The quicktime event elements are fun and interspersed throughout the game, allowing players an opportunity for a break in the action. The stealth elements provide the same.
Narratively, the game works for me. The idea of a man’s life flashing before his eyes while floating in a Turkish river make sense and lend credence to the game’s level design. Levels like the Ice Hotel in Die Another Day look tremendous in glorious HD, by the way.
There’s been a big deal made about actors from the series lending their likenesses and in some cases, voicing their roles in-game. One notable exception is Halle Berry as Jinx. While I didn’t find her absence to be particularly Earth-shattering, her character model is played by some impossibly attractive unknown actress named Gabriela Montaraz and is now white. Bond purists might have a problem with this, but personally, I like the “new” Jinx, she’s attractive and sleek in a way that Berry was more combat-ready.
I know I’ve always wanted to put the boots to Robert Davi in a video game. Mostly because he was an asshole in Die Hard. 007 Legends lets me do that. Spectacularly.
The game also includes minigames in the form of hacking various electronic devices with the help of Bond’s smartphone. The phone also works as a camera and some kind of field detector thing for gasses and fingerprints. I dunno’, it’s all very CSI-level absurdity that’s acceptable in a Bond-like universe.
The weapons are of the standard variety: shotgun, assault rifle, sniper, SMG. There’s something incredibly satisfying about clearing out a room of henchmen using the drumhead shotgun. It’s a loud and ugly-sounding weapon that makes me feel like a wargod against dudes wearing yellow jumpsuits and sparring helmets. I’ll always hate the costume design of Moonraker.
Medium. There’s a multiplayer element that is actually quite fun, but let’s be honest, are you going to stop playing Halo 4 or Black Ops 2 long enough to enjoy it? Doubtful. It’s a Call of Duty clone, plain and simple, with minor graphical hiccups here and there. Overall, there are better multiplayer games out there for you to enjoy. The multiplayer found in Quantum of Solace was actually quite stellar, but in the transition from Treyarch to Eurocom, something was lost.
For completists, however; there are bits of information to be gathered in every level that allow players to view images and information on various Bond characters across the series. It’s interesting, but in the end, it’s another scavenger hunt to find glowing files and items in an already-shiny and vibrant world.
Overall, I enjoyed 007 Legends. It’s a fun few hours and a great trip down memory lane for Bond fans. We need to leave the era of Goldeneye behind, folks. I know, I loved it, too, but that game is ancient by today’s standards. What worked for us as kids, sitting around with our rumble packs placed over our crotches and shooting our friends with sniper rifles and KLOBs just doesn’t work anymore. While that game will always be the measuring stick to which other Bond games (and movie games) are measured, its slightly unfair.
007 Legends works because its made for true Bond fans. If you have even a passing interest in Bond’s on-screen history, do yourself a favor and check this game out. It may not be the best movie tie-in game ever, but its certainly worthy of your time.