Platform | Release Date
360, PS3, Wii, PC | October 16, 2012
Developed by Eurocom
Published by Activison
Gamers and Bond aficionados alike will become James Bond, reliving the world-famous spy’s most iconic and intense undercover missions from throughout the entire Bond film franchise. Employ Bond’s full arsenal of gadgets and weaponry to face notorious villains and their brutal henchmen, perform impressive stunts, and of course, mingle with gorgeous Bond women.
There’s something consistently appealing to me about James Bond as a videogame license. Goldeneye always gets brought up in discussions about the history of 007 in games, but I’ve played plenty beyond the realm of Rare’s classic. The grossly underrated Everything or Nothing. The Bizarre Creations-ending but still pretty good Blood Money. Been there, done that, got the achievements. It’s also taken me into some decidedly less enjoyable territory.
From Tomorrow Never Dies to Quantum of Solace, I’ve had to endure some pretty terrible experiences in order to placate my love of Bond. Up until now none of those disasters have come at the hands of Eurocom, a developer with a strong heritage with the character. Responsible for the adaptation of The World is Not Enough, the enjoyable James Bond 007: Nightfire and the very pleasing remake of Goldeneye 007 they are also – unfortunately for them – the architects of 007 Legends, a definite black mark on the character’s digital history.
You’ve probably heard the sell by now. Rather than offering a comprehensive translation of the events that will unfold in the critically lauded Skyfall, it takes classic James Bond films and gives them a modern twist. With Daniel Craig’s likeness at the forefront you can play through new interpretations of Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Licence to Kill, Die Another Day and finally, Moonraker.
Legends makes a terrible first impression. Opening with Bond being shot on top of a speeding train and then falling into the river below, you quickly transition into Goldfinger. What follows is one of the least enjoyable FPS experiences I’ve had in a long, long time. Enemies move randomly, cover is poorly placed, the environments consist of one dull corridor after another. Key gadget mechanics, like the radar in your watch, seem to make little difference to all of this chaos as it unfolds. By the time I’d foiled the attempt on Fort Knox, I had absolutely no desire to continue. Fortunately, it’s not all bad.
There are a few set pieces that you’ll recognise, and the ski chase from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is one of them. After getting over my own inability to read the game’s briefly displayed instructions, this was actually pretty fun. Afterwards we got back into the shooting, and although it hardly felt like an authentic translation of the old movie, it was like night and day when compared to the Goldfinger mission. Cover was well organised, there were some clever ideas in the levels, and the pacing was exciting. That great feeling of being an unstoppable super-spy was back, just like Eurocom has proven that they can do before.
Licence to Kill keeps the quality up, although by that point you’re probably getting a little bit bored of the gunplay as you shoot your way into the office of another madman. There are some hints of the same slapdash mistakes found a couple of missions before and once it becomes time for Die Another Day we’re back in the doldrums. How you can turn driving an Aston Martin into such an unpleasant experience is a question I don’t think I’ll ever answer. Then Moonraker comes along and I was desperate to smash the disk all over again.
Judging each of the missions on their own merits is tempting, but 007 Legends still needs to be seen as a whole. Eurocom might have brought together more than one movie, but it’s the same gameplay throughout. All in all, it is way more frustrating than it is fun. There are flashes of that true James Bond experience, but they are all too brief. The majority of the time is spent in mindless shooter mode, firing at dullard enemies, hoping that buggy code doesn’t randomly spawn three guys in front of you with shotguns.
It does this regularly.
Multiplayer isn’t much better. It imports a lot of the stuff from Eurocom’s Goldeneye remake, so the base is strong, but the maps are reused from the single player campaign which means lots of corridors and subsequently a whole bunch of pot luck duels. Game modes are varied but the lobbies are extremely quiet, at least on Xbox Live. As often happens with B-list games, there’s no point in investing in the multiplayer, hoping that it will get better the deeper you go, when the competition is so sparse.
After the first hour I was ready to tear Eurocom a new one, but over the course of my time with the game they earned a little bit of leeway. Some of the faults could be the result of the Activision machine – terrible graphics, rushed audio presentation and bugs – but even if you blame the publisher it doesn’t make it a worthwhile recommendation. If you want some Bond, go grab Eurocom’s Goldeneye remake, or one of the many other decent adaptations. This belongs in the same pile as 007 Racing.