Review: 007 Legends

James Bond eh? For what seems to be the last 120 years, Bond has been the perfect British spy – a seemingly invincible and impossibly charming badass who gets to drive fancy cars, play with some cool gadgets, kill bad guys and get jiggy with some beautiful women. Between books and films there have been some epic adventures, spawning a vast collection of related games, spin-offs and piss-takes that not only show the popularity of the franchise but also the flexibility of what can be done with the mere concept of a spy with some cool tech.

Sounds like a cracker of an opportunity to make the best game ever.

Yeah. Well, about that. 007 Legends is, on paper, a brilliant idea. Letting you play through some of the best Bond films including Goldfinger, Moonraker and Die Another Day, 007 Legends gives you a few toys to try out, plenty of guns to shoot at people and plenty of people to shoot them at. But in reality, it’s a disappointing FPS title that feels too generic even with the little Bond tweaks that make you realise you’re still in a game following the films.

Part of the problem is the lack of thought in terms of when the films were made. Fans of the films will know that the above examples feature Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan as the suave Secret Service operative, so it’s a little bit odd that throughout each of these chapters you play as Daniel Craig. That’s right, the guy who’s the latest Bond and wasn’t even born when Goldfinger was released is the star of the show. Not only that, but the technology he uses – most notably a Sony smartphone that lets you do biometric scanning, take photos and so on – remains the same throughout as well. Later on you’ll get use of a pen-dart thingy, but it made me think more of Johnny English than Bond himself as you ping off sleep darts into the backsides of unsuspecting guards.

So the technology and Bond actors is wonky, what about the guns themselves? Well the gunplay is pretty decent in its own right, but in the context of Bond it doesn’t feel quite right. The very start of the game suggests you stay undercover, but then a plane crash immediately sets your nearby world on fire and a huge gunfight starts up. Subtle. And despite Bond being quite handy with his weapon (no sniggering at the back) the huge battles and set pieces with almost endless bad guys to mow down just doesn’t feel like it belongs in a Bond game. Indeed, sneaking and subtlety is more typical of the feel you’d expect, but that’s a bit knackered as well. Once the game remembers that you should be able to do things quietly, it makes life as difficult as possible for you. Just done a beautifully timed headshot with your silenced pistol? Well you’ll want to drag that body out of the open area and hide it somewhere safe before… wait, what? I can’t move him? Oh. That’ll be an alarm firing up and another huge shooting match on its way. Metal Gear Solid this definitely isn’t. That said, the big set pieces and battles are a decent challenge and will have you keeping an eye on several places at once, even if they feel quite samey from one film to the next.

Still, at least the boss battles are worth looking forward to, right? No. Taking out a key bad guy turns into a series of quick time movements of the analogue sticks to punch vulnerable areas of their body. That’s it. It seems like such a shame to put so much work into getting to the end of a level, just to end it with a fight fresh from a 90s game. It’s another area that seems to water down the Bond feeling that you’d really want to find throughout Legends.

There’s obviously the options to go online and find your fun with other 007 fans, and there are some really fun modes on offer including the Golden Gun mode (where holding the shiny weapon will give you more points per kill) but there’s a bit of an issue. Unlike Activision’s slightly more popular Modern Warfare games, finding someone to play against is a tough business. Lobbies appeared mostly empty, and it took a fair few attempts before I found enough people online to play a few games with. It’s akin to some of the less popular PSN titles that suffer the same fate, but with Skyfall being released last week you’d have thought there would be reasons for people to be giving this a go…

What struck me while talking to a few people about 007 Legends is that it would’ve been a perfectly acceptable game had it been released a few years ago, before the likes of Call of Duty, Killzone and Battlefield sunk their teeth into the current generation of gamers. The shooting sections are decent, but poor when put alongside modern games which do the same thing. The cinematic opportunities have been wasted and don’t match up to modern titles, but again might’ve been perfectly acceptable a few years back. The stealthy options hold promise, but aren’t executed well and end up being a little pointless after the first couple of kills. It’s almost as if the developers didn’t notice that time had moved on, or just ran out of steam when it came to the important stuff. Like sorting an ending. That’s right, finish the last section of Moonraker and the screen fades to black ready for the upcoming Skyfall DLC. That’s fine if you buy the game after the DLC is ready, but in the meantime it feels like they’ve thought “right, that’s pretty much done… but it’s Friday, fancy a pint? We can finish this off another time…” and forgot that they had to add more to the ending.

It’s a shame to be so negative about a game based on such a well loved franchise, but it’s just not a great game by modern standards. If you’re a Bond fan you’ll love the idea of playing through some classic films, but you might also get annoyed by just how loose the connection is to the films. This is a tough one to call, and will depend on your affection towards James Bond, but think carefully before paying out.

Reviewed on PS3

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