“James Bond Will Return…” It’s a line we’ve seen at the end of the credits roll over the course of the film series’ 50 year history. Ever since GoldenEye 007 graced the video game market for the N64, we’ve seen numerous Bond games get released over the last decade and a half. Developer Eurocom was on board to celebrate the “Bond 50” anniversary by working on 007 Legends for the PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U. Eurocom is no stranger to the 007 license either. Their first entry, The World is Not Enough for the N64 was a great title (PS1 version wasn’t so good) that gave fans hope that a non-Rare developed Bond game can work. From there, we’ve seen Eurocom develop Agent Under Fire and Nightfire for the PS2, GC and Xbox. Agent Under Fire was a pretty solid entry, while Nightfire stands as one of the best 007 games released (alongside GoldenEye and Everything or Nothing). Recently, with Activision owning the rights to the Bond license, they decided to bring GoldenEye back as a re-imagining, with Eurocom behind the project. The game scored very well amongst fans and critics alike, both the Wii version from 2010 and PS3/360 version from 2011. With Eurocom having a solid stature on the franchise’s history of games, they surely would know how to celebrate Bond’s 50th anniversary…right?
With the latest Bond movie, Skyfall, that released in November, Eurocom decided to build a story lightly around one of the key moments that happens early in that film. As it is no surprise as this was shown in the movie and game’s trailers, Bond is caught in a chase after an operative who obtained a disk drive that contains all of MI6’s secret agents’ covers. While in a fight on top of a train, Bond’s partner for the mission tries to provide aid by reaching a clear location to snipe the enemy Bond is after. His partner is told to “take the shot” by M and she misses, hitting Bond instead. Bond is then pushed off the top of a train, off the overpass and free-falls to what is presumably his death. As he hits the water, the developers decided to use this as a way of Bond recollecting memories of previous missions from previous 007 films: Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, License to Kill, Die Another Day and Moonraker. It’s an interesting plot device to explore some of Bond’s history but it’s here where any “cool” factor gets thrown out the window. When celebrating an iconic character’s history, it’s essential to make sure the source material is close. Since the game isn’t intended to be a re-imagining like GoldenEye was, it’s strange how detached the game feels from the movies it’s based on. Remember the war-like scene in Goldfinger outside of Fort Knox with helicopters crashing and a million soldiers? How about the the scene in License to Kill where Bond destroys other vehicles while on top of a racing oil tanker with a single bullet from his pistol? Or the scene in Die Another Day where you’re driving on ice and the car isn’t invisible (not to mention Jynx doesn’t even look anything like she did in the movie)? Remember how Patrice had a rocket launcher with infinite rockets in the beginning of Skyfall? Yeah…I don’t remember those happening that way in the films either. While I don’t mind so much that the developers try to change it up a bit from the movie counterpart, none of the missions within those movies tie into each other coherently by any means. It’s a disjointed structure and a real shame as the story starts off with potential.
007 Legends is an FPS at heart, while trying to incorporate some stealth elements, on-rail vehicle segments and driving sequences. Eurocom has done all these things before in previous Bond titles, so it would seem like a safe bet to stick with it in 007 Legends. Unfortunately, everything here just doesn’t work as smoothly as it has in the developer’s past with the franchise, which is incredibly odd. You’ll control Bond with standard FPS controls, although, for some reason the sensitivity is either way too slow or too fast, no matter how much tweaking you do in the options menu. What’s even more odd is that when you try to aim vertically, it seems always slower than the horizontal speed, making aiming more of a chore at times. As you progress through the game, Eurocom does incorporate MI6 stations where you can upgrade your weapons, equipment and abilities. This is actually a nice addition that helps give you more freedom with what you can equip. You’ll earn XP by completing certain tasks in game and with those points, you can spend them on upgrades. Bond can purchase and equip up to three perks, such as increased health, increased stamina, quicker reload, quicker weapon swap, etc. As for the guns, you can purchase red dot sights, faster rate of fire, grenade launcher attachments, laser pointers, etc. While this is a nice feature, the attachments don’t “attach” to every weapon. For example, you may be using Bond’s signature P99 pistol and buy a laser pointer for it, but that attachment won’t go onto the pistol…making you waste a purchase. The same goes with a few other weapons…which makes you scratch your head wondering why it’s here in the first place.
As mentioned in the story section, the game revolves around six of the Bond films, each containing two to three levels per film. They sometimes throw you into an on-rails vehicle sequence such as the skiing scene from On Our Majesty’s Secret Service or the motorcycle chase from Skyfall. The skiing scene is ok, and reminded me a bit of Eurocom’s skiing scene from The World is Not Enough on the N64. The problem with this was the awkward steering controls, which felt like moving a tank and led to plenty of frustrating “Mission Failed” screens when smacking into three consecutive trees. Then there’s the Skyfall motorcycle chase…and this one I have no words for. This chase sequence had to be one of the sloppiest segments in the entire game. First off, again, the controls are awkward, and feels like you’re handling anything but a motorcycle. Second, the scenario design of where and when certain “on-coming” vehicles appear are just questionable beyond belief, not to mention how poor they look. Honestly, I found myself laughing hysterically at how abysmal the whole scene was handled. Then there are the free driving vehicle scenes (which I mean allows you to fully control the vehicle), which thankfully handle much better. While the scenes aren’t anything too memorable, they’re enjoyable while they last. The controls are responsive but the physics can be pretty wonky when hitting a barrier or object.
There are times where you can tackle a scenario without getting yourself into a heavy firefight through stealth. After all, it wouldn’t be a Bond game if there was no stealth. Stealth mechanics aren’t too bad, where sticking to the shadows and behind objects to stay out of sight is key. Enemies that notice you will have an indicator on the screen showing how much suspicion they see in the presence. The indicator will start off white, meaning they’re slightly noticing something (that “something” being you), however it’ll quickly switch to orange, meaning they’ve noticed suspicious activity. If the indicator hits red, well, stuff is about to go down. There will be cameras in the vicinity at times as well, but you’re given a few seconds for the camera to fully notice you before the alarm triggers. If a camera scans an area where there’s a body on the ground, expect the alarms to sound. Occasionally, there will be “Critical Stealth” points where getting caught once will result in “Mission Failure” and send you back to the nearest checkpoint. The stealth segments aren’t too bad and can be somewhat enjoyable. A new mechanic that’s introduced in 007 Legends are the quick-time, “Punch-Out” style fight scenes. At times, whether with an ordinary thug or a specific villain, you’ll resort to having to use the analog sticks to throw left and right punches, while swinging high and low. This is interesting when it’s first introduced to you, but wears off very quickly as the enemy you’re brawling with just stands there like a fool, leaving a clearly specific spot open for attack. It’s like they’re saying “hit me…here!” Plus, every time you hit them, it shows the hit in slow motion. Cool at first to show the effect, not so cool after the fifth enemy and 30th punch. However, when caught in hand-to-hand combat with Gustav Graves in Die Another Day’s sequence, you’ll be followed by a quick-time dodging event that gives you literally a tenth of a second to react to multiple different dodges. Missing the button once results in death and having to repeat the hand-to-hand fight again, which is prior to the quick-time dodging event. This particular scene is just plain frustrating for the worst reason.
Aside from the game’s 5-7 hour campaign, there are also Challenge missions. These are akin to the MI6 Challenges that were in GoldenEye Reloaded back in 2011. These handful of missions will put you behind a variety of different scenarios, such as stealth, defense, assault, etc. You will be scored based on your performance and to make things more interesting, you can modify each scenario to your liking. Tweaking things such as enemy health, their accuracy, Bond’s health and paintball mode all affect the points multiplier for your overall score of a mission. These are fun little missions to tackle, but wish they had a co-op element to them.
Playing through the Wii U version of the game, I was hoping the GamePad would be utilized decently. Well, it is and isn’t. The GamePad shows your inventory and you can switch between weapons and gadgets by tapping the appropriate icon. While you could just press a button to switch between them, I actually did find myself using the touch screen more. The screen also displays a mini-radar, which is also shown on the bottom right corner of your HUD on the TV. The radar is minuscule on the GamePad and pretty much just fluff since it’s easier to just pay attention to the radar on the TV instead. There are times where you’ll have a keypad to enter a code or hack into a safe using your watch. While you can use the standard controls, Eurocom has incorporated them to be utilized through the GamePad’s touch screen. It’s nothing great and the visual representations are incredibly choppy and low-res, but it’s a nice touch. Unfortunately, there’s no off-TV play allowed unless you play local multiplayer…which is a real bummer.
Naturally, multiplayer is a huge portion of the Bond experience ever since the days of GoldenEye on the N64. Eurocom has brought us some great multiplayer experiences in their Bond games in the past as well, whether it be The World is Not Enough, Agent Under Fire, Nightfire, or the GoldenEye remake. Unfortunately, 007 Legends’ multiplayer is poorly put together…and this doesn’t make sense either. GoldenEye’s remake had a terrific multiplayer that brought back a classic feel of gathering friends around a couch to shoot it out, as well as taking it online. 007 Legends has the mechanics in place, but has forgotten to incorporate the “fun” aspect to it. First thing was that the online doesn’t feel smooth at all, with movement feeling somewhat stilted. The next element missing (and this is a big one for me personally) was that there was no in-game music during matches. Now many may not be thrown off by that, but when all of Eurocom’s previous Bond efforts had music for multiplayer and then omit that here, that’s a mistake. There are several different game modes that stand out from the typical “Team Deathmatch” such as “Golden Gun” and “Legends” mode. Unfortunately, trying to find a match in anything but “Team Conflict” was near impossible. You can play locally with friends, but I recommend just sticking to the GoldenEye remake. Better yet, fire up the original N64 GoldenEye, The World is Not Enough (N64), Agent Under Fire, or Nightfire if you have any of these accessible. Overall, 007 Legends’ gameplay is functional and can be very mildly entertaining, but it’s incredibly buggy and unpolished.
Ok, so this is probably one of the more laughably infuriating elements I came across in the game. 007 Legends is an ugly game to look at and incredibly rough around the edges. The strange thing is that GoldenEye 007 (the Wii version, not even the enhanced PS3/360 version) looks better than 007 Legends. Honestly, 007 Nightfire, a game that Eurocom developed a decade ago for the PS2, Xbox and GameCube, looks better than this game at times. Now that’s just sad. Character models look somewhat decent, with a very good job done with the facial scans of iconic Bond villains. However, the enemy death animations and physics are just jarring. Killing an enemy behind cover usually resorts to them leaning against that cover in a weird forward position that looks…well, awkward to say in the least. Shooting an enemy with a shotgun or explosive has them fly backwards and flip, but in a slow animation that seems just plain poor. Environmental textures are incredibly inconsistent as well. Some areas look solid, such as the Ice Palace from Die Another Day and the Space Station from Moonraker. Then there are other areas that are subpar to today’s standards. The frame rate holds up alright during intense action sequences…but that’s about it. Sometimes it shoots up to 60 fps in closed-in, non-action areas, but is very rare. The thing is, the engine they built for GoldenEye Reloaded for PS3/360 rans at a rock solid 60 fps and looked significantly better than Legends…so what went wrong here? Visually, it’s serviceable…but that’s about the extent of it.
The audio department is easily the better designed element to the game…but nothing overly impressive. The game may portray Daniel Craig as Bond (even though he wasn’t in most of the movies incorporated here) but it sure isn’t him voice acting the role. Timothy Watson has stepped in to take on the role of Craig’s Bond and honestly, it’s not bad at all. The other voice actors that take on of the roles of classic villains and Bond girls do a decent job as well, except for the times where you’re investigating a scene and they say the same line over and over again. An example of this would be “James, I bet you can use your scanner to find clues”, with only seconds until it’s followed by “James, I bet you can use your scanner to find clues” followed by…well, you should get the pattern by now. The sound effects for the guns and explosives are adequate, but never heightens the scale of shootouts. In terms of soundtrack, while it’s nothing too memorable, the music here is effective and helps capture the game’s moments pretty well thankfully. The overall audio isn’t poor by any means, but far from great.
Overall Score: 7/20 = 4.5 out of 10
007 Legends is a prime example of a product that sounds great on paper and falls apart miserably in execution. For a well established license such as this, and a grand sense of accomplishing 50 years in cinema, this is not a great game to signify it. We’ve seen some stunning Bond games in the past, from GoldenEye 007 (N64), The World is Not Enough (N64), Nightfire and Everything or Nothing. The biggest shame is how Eurocom, a talented developer that’s had a great track record with Bond games, has been shut down right as soon as this game released, making them go out on a thud rather than a bang. Activision should be ashamed for rushing the developer to release the game within a year of GoldenEye Reloaded’s release just for sales sake. If you’re a Bond fan and want to relive some of these iconic moments, you’re better off buying the “Bond 50″ DVD/Blu-Ray Collection. If you still have interest in the game, I advise you only get this in a bargain bin…and even then, you may be disappointed. I did have some mild enjoyment while playing the game, but the amount of issues and inconsistency lying within 007 Legends is inexcusable.
+ Decent soundtrack
+ It’s got Bond
– Severely outdated visuals
– Poor storytelling
– Skyfall’s missions are hilariously abysmal, including the Motorcycle chase
– AI and physics is questionable
– Multiplayer isn’t nearly as smooth as GoldenEye (Wii) or GoldenEye Reloaded (PS3/360)
– Aiming controls are inconsistent
– Feels incredibly rushed
Copy purchased by reviewer for review purposes. Game was played through on the Wii U.