007 Legends attempts something the movies wisely never tried to do with the character of James Bond—make it a cohesive, long-running story about one agent.
In 007 Legends, you play as the Daniel Craig era Bond (though oddly, he does not voice the character) who, apparently, saved the world in scenarios from the following movies: Goldfinger, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, License to Kill, Die Another Day, Moonraker and of course, the upcoming Skyfall. (Skyfall, however, won’t be available until November.)
At the beginning of the game, Bond is shot by an errant sniper bullet and falls off a train. (You’ve probably seen this in the trailers for Skyfall.) As he’s falling, he’s having Lost-style flashbacks to past missions that are based on those movies. All of the missions have even been updated to present day—so even though Timothy Dalton didn’t have a smartphone during License to Kill, you sure do.
And that smartphone does just about anything. It lets you scan for fingerprints, hack into security systems and take pictures. Using one of those features triggers a mini-game which is clever at first, but becomes repetitive about a quarter of the way through the game.
Even worse—I’m Bond, right? Doesn’t Q provide me with more gadgets than a Sony Experia phone? While moving all of the missions into the present day allows for a cohesive (but not really) story, it also robs the game of what could have been the most innovative gameplay feature: limiting Bond to what was available at the time.
Imagine playing Goldfinger with only the tools accessible in the 60s. And then you play Die Another Day with, you know, that ridiculous invisible car. (I blame filmmakers for that one. Not 007 Legends developer Eurocom.)
Speaking of cars, you either fortunately or unfortunately don’t have to drive them often in the game. Because when you do, they don’t control very well—though the car chase on the ice lake during Die Another Day smartly lets you access some fun car tech that even Spy Hunter would be jealous of.
The most innovative part of the game, however, comes during the Moonraker missions, which the developers wisely chose to end the game on. (Even though that means the movies take place out of chronological film order.) Halfway through the mission, gravity is turned off on the Space Port and you have to fight enemies and accomplish objectives in zero gravity.
The segment lasts longer than is needed, but it’s enough of a switch-up of gameplay, coupled with absolutely stunning earlier looking shots of the shuttle, that easily makes Moonraker the best part of the game. Unfortunately, the other movie segments don’t even come close to it.
Sure, storming Fort Knox to take on Goldfinger is pretty exciting. But I don’t seem to recall Bond killing hundreds of enemies to get there. I don’t think you even kill that many guys in a single level of Call of Duty.
Every so often, you’re also required to engage in a fist fight with either a random guard or the “boss” of the mission. At first, it seemed fun, until I realized it’s actually a quick-time event with the two analog sticks—you’re not actually controlling the timing or location of the punches.
There’s plenty of weapons for you to choose throughout the game and the upgrade system is intuitive. Unfortunately, on sniper weapons, when zoomed in, you don’t have an option to steady your weapon. So if you’re looking to snipe when trying to do stealth, don’t bother.
Stealth is also, like driving, only required every so often. It usually was less a case of you being an incredible spy and more of you just running past the guards at the right time.
Each movie should take you about an hour or so to play through—some have two or three missions within each movie. The ending actually ends abruptly, presumably because the free Skyfall DLC mission will wrap up the story. But that’s not out for a couple weeks! Odd that publisher Activision would choose to release the game now and expect fans to actually come back to the game later in a few weeks.
There is multiplayer on top of the single player campaign, which is all I played. You can do local four-player split screen mode or 12-player online.
If you’re a fan of Bond, you might enjoy playing through some of his movies. (It would probably help too, since even though I’d seen all the movies in this game, I don’t remember them all that much, and it made it awfully hard to follow the plot.) If you’re not, you likely will want to choose another first person shooter this Fall.
007 Legends is out now for XBOX 360 and Playstation 3. A Windows PC version (on Steam) will be out on November 2 and there will even be a Nintendo Wii U version sometime in December where there are certain gameplay options available on the Wii U Gamepad (like punching the numbers of a security pin pad from one of the smartphone minigames.)
* Disclosure: A XBOX 360 copy version of the game was provided by Activision to the writer for the purposes of this review. *