007 Legends Xbox 360 Review
The idea of a James Bond game that celebrates 50 years of the iconic British spy by allowing players to participate in some of the older films, sounds like a great idea on paper. Sadly, implementing that into 007 Legends has not done justice for the historic franchise. From the get-go, things start on the wrong side, because rather than sticking to the authenticity for Bond’s golden anniversary, Eurocom (the studio that did a rather good attempt at a Goldeneye re-visioning) have kept the stories intact but muddled them up with present technological advancements (Sony Xperia smartphone hacking in 1964?) and poor gameplay design, all while using Daniel Craig’s face as James Bond throughout the five films that have been selected for this legend’s celebration. It all comes off feeling a little disrespectful.
Single-player begins by using a scene from the latest Bond film, Skyfall, where James Bond is on top of a moving train fighting off an adversary. You will know what part I am speaking about if you have seen the film or its trailer. It is the scene where Bond gets shot off the train by a sniper and falls into the river. While Bond is sinking lower and lower, he begins to have flashbacks of his previous missions, and this is where the game kicks in to take the player back through Bond’s history. The five films that were lucky enough to feature in the game are Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, License to Kill, Die Another Day and Moonraker. That means there is one film representing every Bond actor.
Each story arc lasts around an hour plus, but the worst thing is that the game does not even try to make it a coherent plot. The developers have picked some of the most famous scenes from the films and plopped the player in them without no build-up or explanation. Perfectly fine for people who have seen the films to understand what is going on, but I am sure some people will have not seen one of them. 007 Legends does not even have an ending, since there is additional downloadable content on the digital stores – free I might add – that adds a Skyfall mission to the game. What you get after finishing Moonraker is a “James Bond will return in the second week of November” and then the credits show up. Activision says this is to avoid spoilers for the recent film, but that has not stopped them in the past for other movie tie-ins. It also sucks for people who don’t have Internet access all the time, since they are basically missing 1/6th of the game, due to the Internet requirement of the Skyfall content. That is a bad decision, in my opinion.
To be honest, there are a lot of questionable design decisions when it comes to 007 Legends. Gunplay is mostly decent, feeling incredibly like the recent Call of Duty games, but it’s what is built around the shooting that brings 007 Legends down. The game tries to incorporate the spy aspect of James Bond by implementing a rather pathetic attempt of a sneak mechanic – I can tell you this game is no Thief. After watching the introduction video that explains about stealth, you will try and then decide it is not worth the effort, which then makes every section of the game a shootout in whatever closed-off corridor or building you are in. You cannot even move the bodies you silently kill, so if you assassinate them in a place that can be seen by a camera or another patrol, then you are going to alert the guards and get into a gun fight. The whole mechanics just work against anyone trying to be stealthy.
Each story will include a couple of one-on-one fistfights with a boss or enemy. Now, if you have read some of my other reviews, then you will know that I am quite a fan of quick-time events, but in 007 Legends, they are totally done in the wrong way and serve nothing more than to spoil the flow of the game. When you are locked into these battles, you will see left or right stick symbols appear with a direction of up and down. You need to hit these before they vanish, but there is no challenge; because it is so easy to do and the time you have is extremely generous, you end up defeating the boss before he even does anything to damage you. They might as well not be there. I would rather take a cutscene over these shoddy, dull and unneeded melee sections.
That is the problem with 007 Legends; it is all just a bit meh. You have all these cool scenarios, such as battling outside Fort Knox from Goldfinger, raiding Blofeld’s snow base in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and driving an Aston Martin on the icy snowfields in Die Another Day; yet all these do not excite, because they feel like a coat of paint to change the scenery for the repetitive gameplay that is recycled throughout the stories. It goes like this: shoot your way to some place, use hacking tools or finger print scanner to find information, and then proceed to the boss where you take part in a poor QTE. These gadgets are supposed to cool, but they become a drag as Bond uses the same ones over and over again. Even the amusing pen with stun darts can’t pull it back from disappointment. It gets worse, because two of the film sections feature driving gameplay, which suffer from floaty controls and unexciting gameplay that comes with a budget, tacky feel. The game could have done without that.
Making your way through the game unlocks experience points for your profile, at the same time adding cash in your pocket so that you can buy upgrades for each of the five weapon types. These upgrades feature your common gun parts, such as silencers, extra ammo in a clip and faster rate of fire. These can be used in the campaign to upgrade weapons at special chests located in a mission, or in the challenge mode, where you will need to beat specific tasks within a time limit to complete them. These are based around the campaign levels, so they still suffer from the same problems, but the idea of having to rush through makes them a little less boring to participate in.
Amusingly, four-player split-screen and online multiplayer is the best part of 007 Legends and builds upon what was created in Goldeneye: Reloaded. For whatever reason, the game modes, which come in plenty of varieties, are limited to 12 players instead of 16. It can be a little difficult to play some of the modes, since most people like to play Team Deathmatch or Legends, but no matter what you play, the online experience is mostly decent. There is a level-up system in place, very similar to the modern Call of Duty titles, and the maximum level is 50, which you can prestige if you so wish to do so. Disappointingly, you unlock nowhere near the amount of gear you do in Call of Duty, so the ranks feel less exciting to work your way up through.
From the look of things, 007 Legends uses the same engine as last year’s Goldeneye remake, and while it seems to be 60FPS, it does drop very often and introduces some screen tearing when it happens, making for an ugly mess. Graphically, this game does not look all that great. Detail is lacking and animations are rough, which gave me a feeling that this could pass as a first generation Xbox 360 title.
As you can probably tell, I am very disappointed that such an iconic character has been given a below-par game to represent his 50th anniversary. The idea is great, but the execution and lack of respect – or maybe it is effort – to represent all the Bonds with the correct actors and context, is poor. With such a massive scope to take as influence for a game, 007 Legends just ends up failing at bringing these exciting moments of Bond history to life through a video game. Instead, this uninspired game is dull, stale, and doesn’t deserve to be given the title of a 00 agent.