Bond films are rubbish.
At least, that's what 007 Legends tells me. Do you remember that scene from Goldfinger where the US army lined up to shoot hired goons on the other side of a blown-up tank, too stupid to realise that there was an impenetrable object in the way? Right after Bond randomly bumped into Pussy Galore for the first time, who decides to help him without any seduction or persuasion whatsoever? Rubbish. Oh, how about that bit from On Her Majesty's Secret Service where he assaults Blofeld's mountain base in a helicopter using a minigun that overheats almost instantly? Then spends ages hacking stuff in aggravating minigames? Rubbish.
And who can forget the classic oft-repeated catchphrase: "head for your objective marker, Bond." Absolute rubbish.
Wait, no. NO. That's not right! It would have been enough for 007 Legends to lazily sleepwalk through five classic Bond films, in fact, it should have been relatively easy to copy the best moments in their entirety while making the player feel like the seminal super spy. But instead, Eurocom chose to savage and homogenise the source material at every turn, creating a sloppy product that's neither a good first person shooter nor a good Bond game.
The premise behind 007 Legends was incredibly ambitious. By taking players through key events from six Bond movies (Goldfinger, O.H.M.S.S., Moonraker, License To Kill, Die Another Day and Skyfall), Eurocom promised to offer a new insight into James' psyche, explaining how he became the implacable assassin he is today. Daniel Craig lends his voice and face to the proceedings, as does Richard Kiel, Tony Stephens, Carey Lowell, Dame Judi Dench, Michael Lonsdale and others. You'll electrocute Oddjob. Fight Jaws. Witness the infamous Goldfinger laser scene in first person. How could it go wrong?
Sadly, the execution is dire. The films have been mercilessly hacked into tiny 45-minute chunks, their best scenes either ignored, squandered or robbed of their charm by transplanting them into a generic 21st century setting. Classic scenes are either redacted, changed into boring quicktime events/rail shooting sections or dashed through in bland matter-of-fact cutscenes, the plots retconned into nonsensical gibberish with no time spent re-familiarising us with the characters and lore. Familiar characters phone in their lines as if they resent being involved and have somewhere better to be, delivering awful new lines and botching their original ones. It's a rush job, pure and simple, a fragmented mess pushed out to deadline that squanders fifty years of greatness.
Viewed objectively (and desperately trying to forget the license), 007 Legends is a fun if fiercely average and simplistic first person shooter at its best. As you're propelled through compartmentalised arenas in a constant search for your omnipresent objective marker, you'll glean some fleeting enjoyment from mowing down some hapless goons with familiar weaponry, sneaking around when inconsistent stealth mechanics let you and occasionally enjoying some effective changes of pace thanks to Moonraker's zero-gravity combat or a thrilling ski chase. With remastered versions of the familiar themes blaring out and a few recognisable gadgets to use, there's definitely some bombastic fun to be found here.
Unfortunately, borderline broken AI kills both challenge and immersion as enemies run into walls with merry abandon or obviously spawn out of mid air (somehow, they're more idiotic and incapable than their film counterparts, which is no mean feat). The controls are slightly laggy, while movement speed proves to be unsatisfyingly slippery. Though Legends shares the same intuitive cover system and satisfying melee takedowns with Eurocom's Goldeneye reboot, the thrills aren't sustained for anywhere near as long, instead introducing what can only be described as pointless and unnecessary busywork at every turn.
Insta-fail stealth and trial-and-error timed sections abound. Boring investigation scenes bring the action to a screeching halt as you faff about with finding the right cameraphone filter to locate some fingerprints or keycodes. Hacking and safecracking minigames mire you in pointless faff. Worst of all, battles with familiar villains boil down to limp Punch Out-style brawls that remove any hint of threat or even gameplay choice with on-screen QTE prompts. You'll never feel like James Bond, never, which was surely the whole point of the endeavour.
007 Legends also looks terrible, or at least unbelievably inconsistent. While a few of the environments are sharp, colourful and detailed (clearly benefiting from more development time), most of the game is a grainy mess. Animations are hilariously stiff and unrealistic, often harking back to the PS2 days. Shockingly, little work has gone into the character models themselves - even though Eurocom had the real actors at their disposal, their faces are muddy, angular and devoid of any personality. Playing 007 Legends is like seeing your favourite films recreated as an amateur puppet show with models crudely hacked out of bars of soap.
Strong and simple multiplayer helps to ease the pain and easily proves the highlight of the package. With four splitscreen players involved, throwing down in tight maps with familiar Goldeneye-inspired weapons and classic characters is pure twitchy fun. A comprehensive online suite delivers a suite of enjoyable gametypes and addictive progression, while a challenge mode allows players to experience some of the game's events through the eyes of an auxilliary character or villain. Bizarrely, 007 Legends is strongest when Bond isn't involved.
But you can find better multiplayer experiences elsewhere, and it's not enough to save 007 Legends. Especially since the end of the campaign isn't even on the disc. Shortly after completing the Moonraker mission, the game stops dead, with the Skyfall missions held back as free DLC in the near future. I appreciate that this was done to avoid spoiling the upcoming film, but it's still a truly thoughtless decision that will stop offline players from enjoying the full game. Perhaps the release date could have been pushed back a bit?
Or, you know, a lot. Many more months of development time and polish could have salvaged 007 Legends, which in its current state, suggests that Eurocom simply don't have what it takes to step out from behind Rare's shadow.
- Excellent soundtrack
- Basic fun in parts
- Strong and simple multiplayer both online and in splitscreen
- Sloppy action with far too many flowbreaking minigames and terrible AI
- Brutally rips the films into nonsensical, tattered, generic shreds
- Never lets you feel like James Bond, wastes classic moments and villains
- Awful visuals turn characters into crude lifeless dolls
- Skyfall missions and campaign ending absent at launch
The Short Version: 007 Legends squanders 50 years of James Bond legacy on a gutless, generic and inconsistent campaign that actively ruins six films despite apathetic involvement from the original cast. Fleeting multiplayer fun and a few enjoyable set pieces can't save this odd botch job.