007: Legends – Review
You can count the number of developers who’ve got Bond right on one hand. British outfit Eurocom don’t make that list but they do at least deserve an honourable mention. After all, they created the passable Nightfire back in 2002 and, prior to that, the okayish N64 version of The World Is Not Enough. More recently and most notable, however, is the better-than-expected re-imagining of GoldenEye that hit the Wii in 2010 and PS3 and XBOX 360 in 2011. On that note, it’s sad to report that 007 Legends is not the game that realises the promising potential that Eurocom demonstrated in their previous efforts. All of the charm and underrated sophistication of their GoldenEye update are lost in a monotonous, uninspired and downright dull first person shooter.
Problems begin with the story, or rather lack of. The idea behind 007 Legends is to be able to relive classic moments from six different Bond movies throughout the 50 year history in a modern guise, said movies being Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Moonraker, License To Kill, and Die Another Day, with Skyfall coming later down the line as free DLC (wouldn’t want to spoil things, would we). Now the opportunity to play through such famous scenes will have any diehard Bond fan positively frothing at the mouth with excitement, but it’s a premise that sounds as if it’s been clutched from a desperate handful of straws as a last-ditch attempt to do something in gaming form to celebrate 50 years of Bond. Other than the crux that Bond is experiencing flashbacks to past missions, there isn’t even the faintest indication of an overarching plot whatsoever, and the result is a game where every level feels disjointed and undeveloped.
It wouldn’t be quite so bad if Eurocom hadn’t fluffed the game’s major selling point. The iconic sequences you know and love are in there, but they’re mostly relegated to tacky cutscenes, overused stick-flicking QTEs, or dire vehicle sections. Take License To Kill’s climactic tanker chase as a prime example. There’s no ramming of enemies off the road here, no dodging rockets by balancing a tanker on its side, no pulling wheelies through burning wreckages. Oh no. Instead, you’re forced to drive down a ridiculously winding road in a Humvee with such erratic handling that makes it all the more difficult to avoid the constant barrage of enemy rockets. Driving sequences in Bond games generally have a tendency to stick out like a sore thumb, but other than OHMSS’s skiing segment (which still manages to underwhelm, by the way) these have to be an all-time low.
In between such mishandled atrocities there is some actual shooting to be done, and to be fair Eurocom have beefed up the ordnance since GoldenEye 007: Reloaded. We’re not talking Battlefield quality audio or COD levels of feedback here, but gunplay feels smooth and adequately satisfying, all things considered, with a solid 60 frames-per-second lending a helping hand. 007 Legends is actually best played as a straight-up dumb shooter, supplemented by senseless AI and a more than generous aim-assist.
There’s also a barely noticeable XP system feeding into a basic weapon attachment and character upgrade store. Adding silencers, scopes and laser sights to your guns is always welcome, but the upgrades are the predictable health boost, faster reload, increased accuracy, yada yada – standard affairs here, really, nothing outstanding. It is a shame because this could have been a chance to really shake the game up, a chance to integrate those much requested gadgets that could potentially enhance the way you play, in much the same way as Deus Ex and Dishonored do with their augmentations and supernatural powers, respectively. Gadgets do feature, yes, but the small and humdrum selection is reduced to meagre bit part roles. The shooting comes first.
That’s not to say you can only play 007 Legends exclusively in one way. Saying the aesthetically lacklustre level design is of a sandbox nature would be a stretch too far, but their open layout does accommodate for at least more than one style of play. Going in all guns blazing is always an option, indeed it’s more often than not the most fun, but stealth can also play a role, albeit a botched role thanks to one fatal flaw – the inability to hide bodies. You see, once you’ve delivered the perfect headshot or snapped an unsuspecting guard’s neck, the bodies don’t magically disappear as is habitually gaming convention, and guards will notice them if they stroll too far, imposing restrictions as to when and where you move in for the kill, hence why it’s always better to shoot first and ask no questions later. Sneaking your way through a level is usually a case of trial and error, especially when the guards’ sixth sense catches you out, so by the time you’ve made it through you’ll know the zone’s ins and outs like the back of your hand.
This knowledge means there’ll be an air of familiarity when playing the game’s soulless obligatory multiplayer mode, as the maps have been lazily lifted from the single player. Blasting your way through Goldfinger’s Fort Knox and Die Another Day’s Ice Hotel might give you a minor kick the first time, but the other six maps are some of the campaign’s worst offerings. The servers aren’t exactly brimming at the moment either, and with the deluge of games coming out over the next month it’s hard to see anyone playing this beyond Christmas, if not sooner. Its only saving grace is split screen functionality and a challenge mode (in the mould of Reloaded’s MI6 Ops) that puts you in the shoes of famous Bond characters such as Jaws, Jinx and Oddjob, but ultimately suffers the same problems as the main game.Pros
- Acceptable shooting
- Challenge mode... sort of
- God-awful vehicle sections
- Blundered stealth
- Poor pacing
- Non-existent story
- Barebones multiplayer
Even by Bond game standards, 007 Legends is bad. When there are so many other games available right now or due out soon that exhibit more ambition, look better and are of a higher quality, why bother wasting your time and money here? If you must insist on playing a Bond game though, then consider trying out Eurocom’s underrated GoldenEye, or Bizarre Creations' equally underappreciated Blood Stone, or even Treyarch’s Quantum of Solace. Or, better still, why not just go to the cinema and see Skyfall instead, because stuff of legend this ain’t.
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