The world of cinema marked the 50th anniversary of 007 in spectacular fashion, by delivering what is widely considered the best Bond film yet. But what’s happening in the wonderful world of gaming? A movie tie-in videogame perhaps? No. Instead we have a celebration of Britain’s favourite superspy’s greatest adventures, in 007 Legends.
What we have here is a look back over the last 50 years, picking some of Bond’s greatest moments and updating them with modern weapons, settings, and Daniel Craig. It’s basically an expansion of Goldeneye Reloaded, but doesn’t even come close to reaching the high quality of entertainment that its predecessor provided.
What we have instead is a mediocre first-person shooter experience that takes some great source material, and kills it with generic gameplay, lousy visuals, and some dodgy voice acting – which is particularly strange considering how most of the original cast of the movies – Daniel Craig as Bond, Judi Dench as M, and some of the villains – return to reprise their roles. Whenever Bond began speaking, it was the most bizarre experience. It sounded like Daniel Craig, doing an impression of himself, playing Bond.
Also, the different weapons all sound (and play) very similar, so there is nothing groundbreaking in the audio department. The soundtrack is decent, offering a modernization on each film’s respective songs, and putting it into the action sequences, but after the slight grin that comes from realising the song that’s playing, it just fades into the background and is barely even noticed.
As well as this, the game’s visuals are just plain bad. The facial animation is dreadful, the character movements are stiff and unnatural, and at one point I had to pause the game in order to contain my laughing fits at how one of the characters was running.
The environments are okay, and give a slight feel of where you’re supposed to be, offering minor glimpses at aspects from the originals, but everything has been updated to the 21st century, so a lot of it is new. This wouldn’t be so bad if any of them were particularly interesting to look at, but as with most other things in this game, the word to describe them is “generic”. The environments peak at the end of the game, where you can glide around the space station from Moonraker.
It’s quite surprising how much the game deviates from the originals, especially considering that this is supposed to be a tribute to Bond’s history. A laser-tank outside Fort Knox? A Rambo-styled assault on Blofeld’s headquarters featuring a chain-gun mounted on a helicopter? Add this to how all the Bonds have been changed to Daniel Craig’s incarnation, and the complete lack of Bond’s trademarks, and some of the sequences aren’t even recognisable as being from the films that inspired them.
It’s not just the deviation from the source material that disappoints here though. With Bond girls playing an extremely minor role, only one car chase and the only gadgets being his watch and a smartphone (the former of which was used twice in the whole game), the overall experience didn’t feel like Bond at all. It just falls into the category of “generic shooter”.
Fortunately the shooting is done quite well. The intense firefights are where the game shines. It also offers stealth mechanics for those who prefer to do things quietly, but this is tiresome, and aside from a few occasions where stealth is mandatory, I much preferred to just blast my way through.
Not that stealth is difficult, it’s just boring. Any tension or risk of being caught is nullified by the brain-dead AI. I could stealth kill an enemy right in front of another and he wouldn’t react. I could run out in front of one and it would still take him a few seconds to notice me. They don’t fight much better either. They stand in open areas waiting to be picked off, and the few that actually do take cover hide beside the object, rather than behind it.
The dumb enemies make the game incredibly easy. A basic XP system attempts to mix things up and help you out by supplying upgrades to purchase, but I actually managed to play through the whole campaign without buying any of them.
The multiplayer is where things look up a little, offering splitscreen modes for the sentimental types who want to relive the glory days of Goldeneye on the N64, and a nice variety of online modes. Some of these are faithful to the Bond universe, featuring Golden Gun modes, as well as standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the flag. However even this is sullied by the complete lack of people playing.
007 Legends is not only an unsatisfactory celebration of 50 years of Bond, it’s almost an insult to it, sticking up a huge middle finger to Fleming, the fans, and all of the directors of Bond’s best moments. If you’re a shooter fan, this will be disappointing, if you’re a Bond fan…well let’s just say there might be a few more rage gifs out there after this.