Now pay attention 007, because this might be your most dangerous assignment yet! MI6 is looking to uncover why your games are terrible lately, because her Majesty needs some cash to buy some new diamond-encrusted shoes for which to hurl at peasants that get too close. Get on it James!
And unfortunately, it’s more broken than Jaws bank account after a visit to the dentist.
Taking place during the events of Skyfall (Out at the end of this month kids, ask your parents for permission to go see it!) 007 Legends has Bond relive five of his exploits, each one culled from a different film that starred a different Bond. And here begins the absurdity.
Instead of giving us each a taste of the different Bonds over the years, from Connery to Moore, Dalton to Brosnan and Lazenby, 007 Legends instead bitch-slaps the nostalgia away and inserts Craig’s persona into each scenario.
Of course, inserting Craig makes sense in a bizarre way, as his weathered mug is the current face of the franchise, but why even bother using a terrible film such as Moonraker then, when Live and let die would have been far more interesting and workable for the console.
Besides that massive Moore turkey, the other flashbacks that players sit though is Goldfinger, Die Another Day, License to Kill and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. All good candidates for the game, but ones that should have been choice number 2, in comparison to such masterpieces as You Only Live Twice and Goldeneye.
But by now, that’s redundant.
With Craig inserted into each film, the scenarios in which they take place have also received a more modern day makeover, from technology through to fashion. There’s also an impressive array of voice actors, all reprising their roles, except for Bond himself, whose lack of authenticity here sounds like a cheap actor looking to do some quick voiceover work as he monotones his lines.
And yet, by updating the films, they lose all their charm as well. I’m saying this as a Bond fanboy as well, as those movies were fantastic representations of the periods that they were set in. And by ditching the fun attitude of the Moore films or by trying to make a Dalton film even more intense, it stumbles miserably.
But hey, at least the gameplay makes up for this, right? …Right? You’d have more luck trying to say hello to Pussy Galore without sniggering like a schoolboy.
For a game that stars one of the greatest spymasters in MI6 history, 007 Legends certainly is bombastic. When you start a level, Michael Bay gets an erection by the sheer amount of explosives generated every second.
The game is an unashamed Call of Duty clone, but it’s not even a half decent one. Controls feel stiff, lacking that certain sweet spot necessary for the action ahead, the AI is clearly more mentally handicapped than an intern volunteering for experiments in Q division and the levels themselves all seem to follow a certain linear construction scheme.
Playing through the actual game itself, players get the choice to tackle missions with modern day regenerative health or classic health bars, yet either one fails to make the title actually entertaining, with the FPS sections being a game of shoot all henchmen or endure broken stealth mechanics and shoot all henchmen anyway.
To be fair, 007 Legends does try and be more than a just terrible COD clone. Alongside the aforementioned stealth gameplay, there are areas which employ fisticuff confrontations, the use of gadgets and vehicle sections.
Unfortunately, it’s ambitiously rubbish in this regard.
While the stealth bits are a write off in terms of scripting and function, the gadget portions are woefully under-utilised aspects of the game that follow too rigid a formula, with a thieved Arkham Asylum detective mode sitting in your cellphone, alongside some hacking and espionage tools.
This is where the game could have really shone, as it combining it properly with the stealth sections could have made it a damn fun action puzzle with covert aspects. But that’s been ignored entirely for the Baysplosion spectacle instead.
Alongside that wasted opportunity, are boss fights, which shift from guns to fists. Basically a quick time event, it tasks players with taking down the big bads of the films that players are trudging through.
And it feels just as wasted as the gadgets. Fighting a random henchmen brings no joy, as it feels like more of a tedious exercise in hitting the right buttons in order to knock the hat off of Oddjob. Add to that vehicle stages with absolutely atrocious controls, and the game barrels down a hill quicker than a Christmas Jones sexual innuendo.
And that’s just the sad fate of this game. It’s clear that Activision rushed out a product to capitalise on the latest Bond film, Skyfall, and the fact that Bond was celebrating 50 years of unprotected sex, witty one-liners and dead communist spies, and that’s just how the game feels.
An XP system that is designed to reward players with perks and skills as they accumulate points for orphaning the children of henchmen feels tacked on and pointless, alongside lacklustre visuals and the fact that four out of five levels are terrible.
At least Moonraker works the way that 007 Legends envisioned, but as for the rest of the Bonds? Rushed, sloppy and aggravating. And it’s such a damn shame. Another couple of months of development and polish, and this could have been a superb entry into the Bond franchise. But the quest for quick cash has ruined the end product.
You’d think that the multiplayer would at least save some face for 007 Legends, but thanks to the broken gameplay, matches are only half decent and the other half as attractive as Auric Goldfinger in a thong.
Don’t be too surprised if you play a match with terrible lag, breaks in connection and has players that teleport around the arena. I played the game on a 1 meg line at first, headed over to a mate to check it on a 4 meg line, and the results were just as bad. Hell, one stage had me firing an entire clip of ammo into a player, only for him to immediately knife me from behind when I reloaded. He’d been standing behind me the whole time watching me, it seems.
When it works, it’s passable, and four-player split-screen action doesn’t hurt it, but man, when it stumbles, it falls hard. And for a game that claims to celebrates fifty years of Bond, it feels more like a laser that is slowly inching up the scrotum of a fanboy in the process.
007 Legends was reviewed by Darryn Bonthuys on a Xbox 360