Platforms: PC | PS3 | Xbox 360
Eurocom are no strangers to the Bond franchise, having delivered perhaps the most solid titles to rival Rare's N64 masterpiece in games such as The World is Not Enough, Nightfire, and the GoldenEye 007 reboot for Wii and the HD consoles, and therefore the opportunity to be able to cherry pick moments from Bond's history and craft a new game that took great inspiration from Bond's decades-spanning career must have been positively tantalising.
Which might beg the question why they chose so few films to incorporate into the game, and fairly indifferent ones at that.
There are five films that have been announced thus far: Moonraker, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Licence To Kill, Die Another Day, and the upcoming Skyfall, which will be delivered after the game drops on October 19th as DLC. One film is yet to be revealed, but Eurocom and Activision are keeping that one under wraps for the moment.
The narrative, we are told, is self-contained from the existing films, but will use an overarching storyline, with Daniel Craig as the lead in a modern setting to bind everything together. That said, Eurocom are trying to inject everything with a sense of authenticity. Craig's voice and likeness are obviously in the game, but there are other such as Licence to Kill's Carey Lowell and Die Another Day's Toby Stephens reprising their roles as Pam Bouvier and Gustav Graves. Michael Lonsdale and Richard Kiel will also be returning for the levels inspired by Moonraker, giving their all once more as Hugo Drax and Jaws, and you can expect Judi Dench's M to make an appearance too alongside Rory Kinnear's Tanner.
Of course, one can't help but feel that the iconic showdown with Doctor No might have been worth a shout. There could have been a golfing minigame from Goldfinger. And what about storming Blofeld's fortress in You Only Live Twice? Was there no room for stalking Scaramanga through his carnivalesque labyrinth or distractions and mirrors? And if we're going to do ski chases, would not The Spy Who Loved Me's opening few minutes, culminating in Bond leaping off of a mountain and gliding to safety thanks to a Union Jack parachute, have been a little more fitting than OHMSS? To be honest, it'll all come down to the nature of Eurocom's narrative, but one can't help but feel a little miffed.
After all, Die Another Day did little to help make Bond a legend, and rather more to scupper his legacy.
Still, the fundamentals are looking fairly good. The demo we were privy to gave us a look at two sequences. The first saw Bond sneaking into Franz Sanchez's drug refinery as Ms. Bouvier went on ahead to distract the nefarious criminal, posing as a corrupt government official. As with some of Bond's previous outings, there are little XP bonuses for performing certain tasks or completing levels in a certain fashion, but really you can generally be as gung-ho or stealthy as you choose. That XP will be used to unlock additional weapons, gadgets, and augment Bond's physical abilities in the singleplayer component of the game.
Pulling out his watch, Bond was able to track enemy movements, diving into the shadows at each opportunity to lessen the likelihood of being spotted. A pen doubled as a dart gun, with electrical darts giving Bond the ability to take down enemies silently. Our demonstrator took the liberty of notifying a guard of his presence, and the game changed completely from a stealthy infiltration to a balls-to-the-wall shootout as backup came pouring in from all angles.
The Die Another Day part of the demo took a look at some of the more diverse gameplay elements that Eurocom are bringing to the game. The infamous Bond vs. Zhao car chase, with the former in the Vanquish/Vanish was on show - lining up the targeting reticle for homing missiles whilst simultaneously speeding across rapidly breaking ice, bombarded by Icarus beams, it was unclear as to just how scripted the sequence was, though one would suspect the answer to have been very.
Prior to the car chase, Bond's smartphone, and its electromagnetic binoculars, exhibited the ability to trace power lines from security cameras back to their source, and we got a taste of the satisfying melee takedowns as an in-game challenge objective for "Reflex Eliminations" popped up. Back on the ice though, Bond drove the Aston Martin into Graves' plane, whereupon we were treated to a boss fight of numerous QTEs whilst being taunted by Mr. Stephens in almost identical fashion to the movie.
007 Legends will of course boast 4-way splitscreen multiplayer, as well as 12-player online too. The MI6 Ops missions from GoldenEye 007 Reloaded will be returning, offering up leaderboards for a variety of missions for Bond, his allies, and villains too.XP and rankings will feature in the multiplayer modes, but those will be kept separate from the singleplayer features.
It's impossible to call this one without seeing the complete package. A "Legends" framework is a mouthwatering prospect, but time was when we would have seen 20+ levels in a game like this deliver a set piece from each Bond film. It is to be hoped that when Eurocom's game finally does arrive, we're content to play and enjoy it, rather than wishing what could have been. As it is, I'd have gone for a five film look at Bond's fight against Spectre and Blofeld and just done
the best all of Connery-era Bond. Even if you couldn't get the man himself to the voice work, there are men (and several women) in pubs all around the country who'd give you a damn fine impression.
Here's hoping that 007 Legends isn't akin to an unauthorised "Best of" album that suffers from missing out the very best tracks.
The game (not my fantasy) is out on October 16th in the US, and October 19th over here, for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.