As we prepare ourselves to be wowed by a new Bond film that’s being hailed at the ‘best yet’, Eurocom have delivered their latest video game movie tie-in for the now 50 year-old action franchise. However, despite an interesting premise that ties five legendary Bond films together into one package, all that’s on offer is a lackluster Call of Duty-clone that will leave fans frustrated at a lot of wasted potential. 007 Legends has its moments and re-creations of famous scenes have a nostalgic kind of charm, but a dated look alongside generic first-person shooter gameplay leads to another disappointing movie tie-in to add to the ever-increasing list.
With a narrative that attempts to intertwine five classic bond films (Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Die Another Day, Moonraker and Licence To Kill) into one main campaign, 007 Legends does come across as a lot more ambitious that most movie tie-ins. There’s times where Eurocom nail the Bond-vibe – with appearances from classic baddies like Goldfinger and Jaws providing nostalgic moments for fans of the British spy – but the sheer amount of problems in the final package render 007 Legends a blockbuster disappointment as opposed to an unlikely success.
The latest in a long line of Bond video games begins with a scene from the upcoming film Skyfall. Daniel Craig is accidentally shot on a moving train and with a bullet hole in his torso he falls into the river below. Bond’s life subsequently flashes before his eyes, with each level essentially serving as a flashback to the spy’s missions gone by.
There was an opportunity here for a really clever, interesting narrative, but unfortunately Eurocom never take advantage of this. There’s no rhyme or reason to the order of these missions, with no real over-arching story explained; you’ll always play as Daniel Craig’s Bond, as opposed to the likes of Connery or Moore – though the Hollywood actor apparently couldn’t fit doing the voice work for 007 Legends into his schedule. Each mission feels entirely separate, just lasting an hour or so, and Eurocom fails to accurately portray the plot lines of the movies either, making the narrative offered by 007 Legends a confusing mess.
007 Legends is also well below par graphically. Environments lack the detail that one would expect in a retail-priced title, with lighting being poorly utilised throughout. Its looks are on the same level as Eurocom’s last Bond title, the re-boot of the Nintendo 64 classic GoldenEye, which is really disappointing considering that’s a remake of a game released in 1997. Some decent character models, some of which voiced by their original actors, earn some merit for the games overall presentation; but all in all 007 Legends feels really dated.
007 Legends consistently feels a lot more Soap MacTavish than it does James Bond.
So, 007 Legends has a terrible story and some pretty dated looks – but how does it play? A number of gameplay elements make up the game’s main campaign; some of which competent (if unspectacular) and others completely awful.
It comes as no surprise that Eurocom have opted to create a first-person shooter, but 007 Legends consistently feels a lot more Soap MacTavish than it does James Bond. Levels feature classic Bond locations but are often poorly designed. You’ll spend the majority of your time fighting the same old grunts with varying costumes, depending on the level you’re playing, whilst the lack of variety becomes mind-numbingly dull at times, which is a shame because the actual shooting mechanics on offer feel reasonably smooth and responsive.
Whilst 007 Legends is an action game at heart, there is the option to play with more spy-like stealth. Unfortunately, the poor enemy AI makes taking the quite approach extremely difficult. With no way to judge line of sight and guards miraculously being able to see through walls, trying to play the game stealthily is very frustrating and not really worth the effort. Outside of the game’s occasional ‘mandatory stealth’ segments, you’re better off going in all-guns blazing.
There are very few gadgets to get your hands on as well. Hacking terminals and getting past doors usually require completing monotonous mini-games, which is a shame when you consider the wealth of gadgets from films gone by Eurocom could have handed to the player. The encounters with legendary baddies like Goldfinger and Jaws are hugely underwhelming, with ‘boss battles’ essentially amounting to a mixture of Quick-Time Events and cut-scenes.
Vehicle missions add a little variety, but most are relatively poor and far too short to successfully break up the action. 007 Legends attempts a few different ideas, but the only one that really comes off is the first-person shooting, which is perfectly competent if a little generic at times.
It’s perhaps a good thing that the main campaign isn’t all that 007 Legends has to offer, as otherwise one could very easily accuse Eurocom’s latest offering as being a game to cash in on the inevitable success of Skyfall. There are some special ‘challenge’ missions which give players extra tasks in some of the main campaign missions, but the bulk of the extra content comes in online competitive multiplayer.
With a slew of quite inventive modes that allow you to take control as classic Bond characters, as well as a consistent leveling system, 007 Legends multiplayer certainly has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, potential is the operative word in that sentence. Some massive server issues made matchmaking extremely difficult as pretty much every game I got into suffered from extreme lag. It’s a real shame that such a potentially good multiplayer offering is tarnished by server issues. Hopefully Eurocom will be able to fix these issues via a patch before all of the hardcore Bond fans lose interest.
So where does all that leave 007 Legends? I’m afraid the answer is in a very bad place. The game’s six-hour campaign drags along as if it has no legs. Whilst I’d have liked to have spent a lot more time with the multiplayer segment, some pretty inexcusable issues cut my enjoyment short. This certainly isn’t the 50 year celebration Bond fans would have wanted. Some attempts at production values are hindered by Activision clear refusal to throw any kind of triple-A budget at this game; it really shows. To use one of James Bond’s most famous lines, 007 Legends can only really be described as “shocking”. What a pity, Mr Bond. What a pity.