‘Do you expect me to be a great game Mr Goldfinger…?’
‘No Mr Bond, I expect you to be a crap Movie tie in and destroy your own fanbase…hahaha!’
If everyone was to be completely honest James Bond’s history in video games is a bit of a mixed bunch, on one hand you have got gaming classics like GoldenEye, a decent enough gaming experience with Everything or Nothing, average entries like Agent Under Fire, then you have crap titles like GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. Where would I put 007 Legends? Hmmm – the bottom. Sorry to say it fans but it’s true.
It’s a game I really looked forward to and wanted to enjoy. Hand on my heart I am an avid bond fan and I’ve been enjoying every single one of the films since I was a child. So seeing the trailers for this game, having been told it was the best bits of all the Bond movies I was eager with anticipation on how they were going to do it. Receiving the game early for review ahead of the forthcoming Skyfall film made all of those child-like instincts come out. Yes, Christmas was going to arrive early for me. There it was, sealed in front of me and even though it was 12pm at night I just had to play it. I soon wished I hadn’t. It soon dawned on me that it was one mess of a title that felt untested, incomplete, and well, boring. What happens to children’s dreams eh? Where’s Father Christmas or even Ms Christmas when you need them?
The concept is pretty sound, and one that even I could get my head around. At the beginning of 007 Legends there is a scene showcased from the trailer for the film Skyfall. Daniel Craig as 007 is mistakenly shot by a sniper and falls off a speeding train. Hitting the river below, (in this game at least) causes Bond’s life to flash before his eyes. We can make a fair assumption that he is perhaps thinking or seeing key moments from his life. Next thing you know you are walking into a room where a deceased young girl is sprawled out over a bed covered in gold. A mobile phone rings, the camera turns, you see Daniel Craig answer it and then it cuts to the intro sequence. You get the idea, this is going to be the best missions of Bond but what would have happened if it was Daniel Craig’s iteration. Fair enough I thought – great. The intro sequence was typical Bond style with elements of Goldfinger’s soundtrack, sexy saxaphones, and building orchestral crescendos. Alas, introductions alone do not make a game and once the game actually started I soon realised I was in a poor iteration of Modern Warfare.
Each section plays out in the game’s five missions each based on a different Bond classic Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Die Another Day, License to Kill, and Moonraker. Skyfall we are assured will be downloadable after the movie release. 007 is a straight faced FPS (First Person Shooter) and like Modern Warfare there are sections where you will be driving and shooting either trying to catch up with someone or trying to escape. There are times where the shooter element in Legends works – some fire fights are genuinely intense and when you first start playing you don’t realise the lack of attention to game structure or even gameplay. But when this game doesn’t work, it really doesn’t; that’s when you realise that despite the change in levels, each game within the game is essentially the same.
To be fair the graphics are of high quality and the rendering of beloved Bond enemies such as Goldfinger, Odd Job and Pussy Galore is gorgeous to see. It’s just a shame that the attention to detail couldn’t be extended to the voice acting. Fine – the actors might not have wanted to put their voices to their onscreen counterparts but they should have at least got people that sounded like them. At one point Pussy Galore asks Bond his name and he just says casual as you like ‘James Bond’; no build up, no nothing, he might as well have been Soap Mactavish. It gets to a point where even the major set-piece battles end up remarkably dull. It really annoys me that the developers failed to capitalise more on the films they sought to use, after all, the film franchise has so many memorable moments and villains, they should have had the pick of the bunch. It’s such a shame that they did not lavish greater attention on them instead of just coating them over.
At some points Bond needs to do little more than follow onscreen indicators that make even taking on Odd Job a walk in the park and every Bond villain receives the same terrible fate. I’ve heard some people talk about stealth sections being a major selling point, but even this was not thought through properly. You see, enemies become alerted when they see dead bodies however as Bond you cannot carry or hide bodies. This means that although you can incapacitate an enemy and get passed them the alarm will nearly always be raised and you end up having a shoot-out anyway. What is the point? On other stages the difficulty level becomes impeccably ramped up causing you to die and restart the entire stage again because the game has failed to save. One would think that problems like these would have been raised and ironed out at the play-testing stage, surely?
Im not going to go on about this game any further because I think you get the picture. Everything about my experience of this game points towards a rushed development, one that was focused on releasing the game as close as possible to Skyfall’s cinematic release which is a shame because they could have developed a higher quality game based on Skyfall instead and released it later and no one would have blinked a golden eye. As it is, this game is below par. Its such a shame because the world of James Bond is almost custom-built for an awesome gaming experience, but Activision deserves a slap on the wrist and should be sent to their room early for putting out this poor excuse for gaming in 007 Legends.