STAFF REVIEW of 007 Legends (Xbox 360)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012.
by Adam Dileva

007 Legends Box art We all know how well movie based games generally fare (you can’t see my sarcastic face right now) but what happens if the game is actually based on five separate movies? I think you already know the answer. 007 Legends is supposed to be a celebration of not only fifty years of Bond on the silver screen, but the anticipated upcoming release of Skyfall in theaters also. Developed by Eurocom, known for last years’ decent Goldeneye 007, 007 Legends may use the same engine, but there have been some additions added to the game such as stealth and “smarter” AI. I say additions because they are not improvements in any way.

Legends opens up with I’m assuming a scene from the new Skyfall movie (as noting is really explained otherwise) that shows Bond (Daniel Craig) on top of a moving train fighting an enemy. A sniper is radioed and told to take out her target. In a frantic rush before the train goes into a tunnel, she fires and hits Bond, causing him to fall off the train and over a bridge into a lake below. What you see next is Bond sinking into the water deeper and deeper and this sets off a chain of memories from his previous escapades; his life flashing before his eyes if you will.

The opening mission Bond is recalling is his adventure in the movie Goldfinger. The first odd thing you’re going to notice when Bond is reliving his past missions is that it’s Daniel Craig as 007 in each memory flashback. 007 Legends incorporates five different Bond films as different memories that span multiple eras and actors that portrayed 007. If you can read between the lines, that means there are five missions in the game, each of which last just over an hour on average; you can do the math for length of the campaign. You’ll play through missions from Goldfinger, License To Kill, Die Another Day, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Moonraker. If you know your Bond films, each movie represents a different actor’s turn at being 007. What makes not only the movie choices odd (as there are much better that could have been used) is the fact that each of these missions are retold with Daniel Craig being Bond. Sure, casual fans may not care, but it’s extremely odd seeing Craig in old classics, just like it was seeing him in last year’s title as well; though it’s compounded since he’s taking over four more actors’ work. To make matter worse, it’s not even actually Daniel Craig that voices Bond in the game, but instead an impersonator that isn’t convincing in his acting in any way.

On top of all of that, each scene from the movies isn’t going to play out anything like what happens in the movies. Almost all of the events never actually happen in the films and it makes it feel very forced and shoehorned in to simply ‘work’, which it doesn’t. I don’t remember Bond on a minigun in a helicopter shooting down dozens of bad guys, but hey, it has been a few years since I’ve seen the movies so maybe it’s my memory. I would normally never talk about the ending of a game in a review, but this is something that needs to be known ahead of time: There is no satisfying ending. Even when I completed the game, I felt no accomplishment as there was no climax or true ending. Instead, after finishing the Moonraker level you’ll be greeted to a message informing you that a Skyfall mission will be available to download (for free) after the movie is released mid Novemeber. Does that mean I don’t get a real ending unless I’m connected online, get the DLC, and play one more mission? That’s asking quite a lot when the biggest games of the year are already out or are about to be. It put an extremely bad taste in my mouth and you aren’t rewarded for finishing the game in any way with any conclusion.

As you begin the game you’re given the option if you want to play in Modern Mode, where your health regenerates, or in Classic Mode where you have to find health and armor packs to stay alive. You’ll also be granted with difficulty options, but unless you’re achievement hunting, I suggest medium or easier so you can get through it quicker and onto the rest of your gaming backlog.

Bond will start each mission with his P99 pistol complete with silencer. As you defeat enemies you’ll also be able to pick up two primary guns as well, swapping whenever you please. As you kill enemies and complete objectives you’ll gain XP for level and weapon based goals. With this earned XP you can spend it on weapon upgrades and new skills like health regeneration. You’ll have to find a MI6 weapon cache before you’re allowed to equip the upgrades though, and those don’t appear all too often.

Bond will also have some of his gadgets such as his iconic watch that has two uses; one to ping an area for radar purposes, and second to use as a laser to destroy cameras. In reality, the watch gadget is useless as there is no need for radar outside a few forced stealth sections, but more on that later.

007 will also have access to his phone which moonlights as a camera, hacking device, and a biometric scanner. When electronics need to be hacked, Bond can whip out his phone and wirelessly do so with a minigame that isn’t any fun at all (along with the other hacking minigames that aren’t great either). Putting your phone into that mode will show everything in an x-ray like vision so you can see where devices are connected. Using the Biometric view will help you scan for fingerprints when needed and is necessary to find door unlock codes. Later in the game Bond also gets access to his pen which doubles as a weapon of sorts. With three different types of ammunition, this gadget pen can tranquilize an enemy instantly, shock them, or distract from a distance. Outside of the forced stealth sections, you won’t have a need for the pen at all.

So let’s talk about the newly added stealth mechanic in Legends. You’re encouraged to play the spy role but simply aren’t given the tools to do so properly. Stealth is an ‘option’ (apparently), but you’ll find out right from the beginning that it doesn’t work that way since it’s completely broken. You are unable to move bodies and if a patrol sees a corpse, the alarm is set off. There is no way to tell an enemy’s field of vision before it’s too late, and very early on you’ll learn that it’s simply quicker to fight your way out rather than to try and fight against the shoddy mechanics. Worse still is that there are a few sections in the game that require you to adhere to these unfair rules and if you set off an alarm or someone see you, you’re back to the checkpoint beforehand. It will cause you a few restarts and extreme frustration; guaranteed.

Mission pacing and variety don’t change throughout the whole campaign. You’ll start the mission, have a few gun fights, inspect a room with your gadgets to find a clue to where the boss character is, clear more rooms of enemies, have a vehicle section and then have a predictable quicktime event (QTE) against each mission’s boss character. That’s right; every boss in the game is a simple QTE and doesn’t vary at all. You’ll punch him by flicking the sticks up or down until he has no health left, he’ll grab a weapon, you’ll dodge then block it to make him drop the weapon, then finish him off with the same QTE and complete the level. Needless to say, only performing a QTE against Oddjob and Jaws was more than a letdown.

General enemy AI doesn’t fare much better either. First, you’ll simply have a handful of enemies thrown at you and once they are all dead you can move on. None of the enemies are smart and the more difficult ones simply have more armor on and can take more damage before dying. Enemies will stand out of cover waiting for you to shoot them or simply run towards you making your automatic weapon an easy way to clear the room. For the odd time you actually find a grenade make sure you use them, as they aren’t smart enough to run away from them.

For the completionists out there, many hidden items await you to search and find that when fully collected in a level will unlock some bonuses, though nothing all that interesting. The problem I found was that you aren’t ever told what the hidden items are and they don’t glow or shine very brightly to make it easy to find either. If you absolutely need another reason to play through the campaign again, at least these are here for those that want to get 100%.

MI6 Mode is available for those that want more challenge or to simply play with some fun modifiers on like paintball mode or ragdoll physics. Here you can essentially set mode of the settings such as weapons, health, how strong enemies are, ammo, and more. There is even an online leaderboard for those that like to brag about how hardcore they can beat missions at as well.

When you finish the campaign in a single sitting or weekend, you’ll want to head over to the multiplayer section which allows you to play online with twelve players or split screen with four. You’re going to notice right away where the multiplayer gets its influence from. You have level rankings and even a prestige-like system in place for those that truly have the time to devote. You’re able to equip gadgets and attachments to customize your character online as well.

There are a few mode offerings outside the standard deathmatch and team deathmatch and if you’ve played a FPS online in the past few years you’ll know what to expect, though with the other massive games coming out just around the corner, the online population is sure to dip quite soon (as it took me awhile to find some matches). Starting out is extremely unforgiving as you’ll most likely be matched up against much higher level characters than yourself and you start out with nothing. You’ll struggle for a few hours until you level up enough to get some decent weapons and attachments. Honestly, if Legends multiplayer didn’t have four player split screen (as very few games do that these days), it would be quite forgettable.

If you’re a Bond buff, you’re going to become quite annoyed with not only Craig being cast in each film’s reimagining, but that many of the characters in the films were changed in the game as well. The biggest offence was that Jinx didn’t look anything like Halle Barry or even try to be. Apparently M is actually voiced by Judi Dench, but the poor acting that is portrayed by a fake Daniel Craig simply does the brand disservice. In the opening act of the game, he doesn’t even get the iconic line correct when asked his name; it’s that untrue to the films.

That’s what I don’t get. 007 Legends is supposed to be a celebrate fifty years of Jame Bond films, and with half a century of source material there is a vast library to choose from; why were all of these films and changes chosen? Instead of a game that captures the classic Bond essence, you get a game that is trying its hardest to be Call of Duty instead. Sadly 007 Legends tarnishes the brand rather than celebrates it.

Overall: 4.0 / 10
Gameplay: 3.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 4.0 / 10


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