007 Legends Review

As a lifelong James Bond fan, the prospect of a game that took you through some of the long-running series' most memorable moments was pretty exciting. And 007 Legends managed to completely kill that excitement long before I finished the game's opening chapter drawn from the Goldfinger film. First there's the game's narrative, or rather complete lack of one. I could follow what was going on in each level only because I had seen each film more than once, and even then it was a little hard to do at times since the game has taken some rather large liberties with the storylines. If you haven't seen all of the films represented in the game, then you'll essentially be jumping from one relatively random level to the next.

The premise here is that the game is actually a series of flashbacks experienced by Bond while he is falling into a Turkish river after taking an errant sniper bullet fired by a fellow agent. If you've seen Skyfall, you'll recognize this scene from the movie and realize that 007 Legends is taking place in Bond's mind while the film's opening credit sequence is playing out on the screen. This premise manages to make even more of a mess of the storyline, because films associated with Connery's or Moore's Bond now feature Daniel Craig in the starring role, and freely mix 1960s spy technology with new millennium tech like smart phones equipped with biometric sensors.

This all could have worked spectacularly if done right - an alternate timeline in which Craig's Bond squares off against Goldfinger in the early 2000s certainly sounds intriguing. But it doesn't work when you completely fail to provide any narrative cohesion between the levels and try to turn Bond into Frank Mason or Soap MacTavish.

The game's Call of Duty style of gameplay is a rather odd approach to making a Bond game since the fact is that in the movies Bond's kills rarely come by the dozens in open firefights. If you are going to go in that direction then the gameplay needs to be enjoyable enough for gamers to forget about how incongruous everything is. Poor level design - do endless corridors have any place in modern level design? - is just part of the issue; at the heart of the game's problems is the enemy AI. It is so completely broken that at times the game is laughable and at others completely infuriating. Enemies will sometimes sit behind cover popping up and down like a jack-in-the-box until you put them out of their misery. At other times they'll run between cover spots not to seek better protection or a better firing position, but merely for the sake of jumping back and forth. And they have no qualms about running right into your line of fire even though they must push through a stack of their compatriots' corpses to do so.

007 Legends screenshot 29

A James Bond game? Really?

While devoid of any basic combat skills, enemies do possess the uncanny ability to see you behind walls or cover - and they seem to possess the weapons to shoot through that cover. On more than one occasion I started taking weapons fire through a wall from an enemy in the next room or RPG fire that passed through a vehicle on its way to hit me.

The game does implement rudimentary stealth mechanics in an attempt to remind you that Bond is a super spy and not a Special Forces operative. You can try to sneak your way through a level by crouching as you move and avoiding enemy sight cones, but inconsistent enemy lines of sight and an inexplicable inability to hide bodies after a stealthy takedown usually mean that you'll be sighted sooner rather than later. And when you are, you just end up in one of those massive shootouts with brain dead enemies anyway, so you may as well skip the stealthy approach entirely. Unfortunately, the game does throw some mandatory stealth sequences your way, and since being sighted means instant mission failure you'll wish that the game had dispensed with stealth altogether.

Since there weren't enough frustrating aspects to the game already, the developers decided to toss in quick-time events as well. It's bad enough that you have to play yet another game that relies on this lazy game mechanic (does anyone out there actually enjoy quick-time gameplay?), but the game's registration of your button presses is so spotty that it leads to a lot of frustrating failures. Not only that, failing at a quick-time event sequence rewinds the gameplay to a point well before the quick-time sequence, forcing you to replay stretches of the game as punishment for your failure.

Even though I feel that at this point I'm just piling it on, I do have to point out that the game's graphics leave a lot to be desired. The character models are poor, the textures are blocky, and the general lack of any details in the environments is quite conspicuous. The whole thing looks like it was ported from a Wii version of the game, which is interesting since the game hasn't been released on the Wii. Perhaps it was originally developed for the Wii, only to have that version abandoned due to the timing of the release coinciding with the launch of the Wii U. And perhaps I'm giving the game too much credit here...

If you manage to summon the stamina to force your way through this mess of a single player campaign, then you can give the multiplayer mode a go. The multiplayer game is so similar to that in last year's GoldenEye: Reloaded (except that the number of players support has been inexplicably cut from sixteen to twelve), that I suspect that GoldenEye's multiplayer code has been repurposed for use in 007 Legends. You can select to play as a Bond villain drawn from the canon of films in the deathmatch Legends mode, which also seems to be the mode that you have the best chance of joining a game in. There are a couple of interesting modes such as Golden Gun (one hit kills with the titular weapon, kill its wielder to get the gun for yourself) and Escalation (each kill grants you a better weapon, two deaths in a row and you drop a level). There are thirteen game modes in all which cover pretty much all of the types of modes you'd expect with the exception of a capture the flag variant. There are some modern shooter trappings here such as level progression, but the gameplay itself looks and feels decidedly last-gen.

If going online is not your thing, you can try to get more mileage out of the game in its challenge modes. These are a collection of levels that fall into one of three categories: assault, defense, and stealth. Beat a level and your score is recorded and the next is unlocked, with your goal being to finish all of the modes and then go back and improve on your scores. The same issues that plague the campaign game in terms of shooter mechanics and stealth are here, too, so whether you can find the stamina to subject yourself to completing all of these levels when you could be spending your time playing something more enjoyable is questionable.

Final Rating: 40%. The only thing legendary about this game is the mess it makes of the Bond franchise.


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