007 Legends (Playstation 3 [Reviewed], Xbox 360, PC, Wii U)
Genre(s): First Person Shooter
Release Date: October 16, 2012 (PS3, X360), November 2, 2012 (PC), December 2012 (Wii U)
ESRB Rating: T – Teen
007 Legends begins with James Bond being accidentally shot by a female sniper and falling into water and having memories of his previous missions flash before his eyes. It’s these five missions that we play during the game: Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Licence To Kill, Moonraker, and Die Another Day. That’s it. These five missions each have two to three levels associated with them, but it is going to take more than four to five hours to “beat” the game using the Modern setting.
I’m not a big James Bond fan, or at least not of the films. I’ve seen a few, but not many. So I’m not familiar with the movie missions that are presented here. I have been a big fan of a lot of the 007 games since playing GoldenEye 64 for many, many hours back in the day. More recently, the GoldenEye remake for Nintendo Wii (later available on other systems as GoldenEye: Reloaded). This game isn’t even in the same ballpark as those two, and that’s particularly disappointing considering it’s the same team behind the GoldenEye remake and it sounded like it had a lot of potential.
The main problem with 007 Legends is that it never elevates itself above being a generic first-person shooter. It seems satisfied in simply being a Call of Duty clone in the worst possible way. This is aspect of the game is as barebones as it can get; it consists of little more than running from one area to the next killing everyone you see. Sometimes you don’t even need to kill the people, just run to the target area and advance. The game does add in a few wrinkles to try and break up the repetitiveness of simply shooting wave after wave of enemies, and some of these actually end up being amongst the games highlights.
I particularly enjoyed the games stealth parts. The stealth isn’t great because of the inconsistent AI, but it’s manageable even though it may take a couple of tries. I preferred sneaking and being silent (using the darts and melee attacks) over the constant shooting. The stealth at least felt challenging and somewhat spy like. It was a great change of pace from the running and gunning, although again the inconsistent AI (and by that I mean sometimes they won’t see something they should be able to see, and other times they’ll notice something they shouldn’t be seeing or shouldn’t have heard) will lead to some minor frustration.
Some of the best parts of the game are the ones that pull you away from the standard shooting and force you to do fast paced action sequences: fast skiing down a hill while avoiding trees and bombs, and shooting enemies on snowmobiles and then shooting down a helicopter stands out as the best early part of the game. There are other moments similar to that to involve you driving some vehicles avoiding stuff while shooting at others. All of these sequences were fun to play, it’s just too bad they were the shortest parts of the game never lasting more than a few minutes.
When you aren’t shooting or sneaking, Bond has his traditional gadgets at his disposal. You can fire a laser beam out of your watch to fry certain electrical targets, which can either be shutting down security cameras or frying electronics near guards to distract them. Bond is equipped with a Sony Xperia smart phone which allows him to take pictures, hack objects (a mini game involving the shoulder buttons), and scan biometrics. There are doors that will need to be opened by first going into your phones biometric mode to see fingerprints, and then putting in the correct security code for opening the door. All of this seems like it’d much better on the Wii U with its GamePad.
It’s important to point out that 007 Legends isn’t a bad game. I encountered no glitches or bugs, no hang ups or freezing, and no noticeable drops in framerate. There are no technical problems (aside from the loading times, which are atrocious) with the title, at least not that I experienced. However, the game never rises above simply being an average, maybe a tad mediocre shooter. As a $60 retail title, I think there’s simply not enough here. The game shipped without an ending; you finish the Moonraker mission and that’s it, the credits are rolling. That’s because the games actual ending is coming in the form of free DLC from the new Bond film Skyfall. The Skyfall missions will be available on November 9th for PS3 players and November 20th for Xbox 360 players.
Obviously the reason for that is because Skyfall doesn’t premiere until November 9th and they don’t want to spoil any of the movie for people, but then why not just wait and release the game until after the movie comes out? Maybe it didn’t want to compete with the bigger titles, because there’s no way this game can compete with half of the titles coming out between October 23rd and November 20th, but then I don’t think the game is good enough to have most people who have the game bothering to come back to it when the Skyfall missions are released. It comes across more as releasing an unfinished game while there’s a chance people might actually buy it instead of releasing a complete game during a period where it would have heavy competition with games that will actually have a lot to offer. Sure, the DLC is free, but how many people will bother to download it?
I do have three major gripes with the game aside from it being incomplete at the moment. The “boss fights,” the story, and the loadtimes. Working backwards, the load times in this game are beyond horrible. If you die, and you will, you can expect sit for upwards of 15 to 20 seconds before the game loads back up to the last checkpoint. Die again, and frustration quickly begins to set in because it’s just taking so long to get back into the game.
The story of 007 Legends is by far the biggest letdown to me. And that’s because, at least at the moment, it’s completely nonexistent. Seriously. Prior to the games release, and even on the fact sheet sitting right here in front of me, we heard the claim “007 Legends features an original, overarching storyline tying together five classic Bond inspired-missions; plus one from the upcoming Skyfall.” No, there’s no overarching tying together going on here. Bond was shot, and he’s having these memories flash before him. There’s absolutely nothing tying these missions together. For that matter, we’re just dumped into a new mission without a clue what’s going on or why we should care because the developers seem to believe that everyone who plays the game will have seen the Bond films and will already know the plot. I haven’t seen these movies, so to me these ended up just being different levels to shoot people in with absolutely no story. Maybe the Skyfall missions will tie everything together, but that’s too late and as of now, the claim of an original, “overarching” story is a lie.
And finally the boss fights. Never has Bond had an easier time taking out the evil villains and their henchmen as he does in this game. The boss, or random guy (as this happens at random points too), will put his arms up to block in a certain direction, and then you’ll move whichever thumbstick displays on the screen in whichever direction it tells you to move it (either up or down). This results in Bond hitting the person with his fist. It’ll get a little cinematical for a moment, be followed up with a QTE, and then you’ll have to do the fight one last time. Even on the hardest difficulty in the game, these are super easy and won’t take any more than 20 seconds to beat. One time against a random enemy, or once against Oddjob, would have been fine. But this little super easy fighting QTE is just repeated way to often and makes the end battles absolutely no challenge whatsoever. The only one that doesn’t end with this is Moonraker, which also happens to be the best mission in the game and the one where things open up a little to not be a standard fare FPS.
There’s fun to be had with the single player, but it isn’t something that’s going to take up more than a handful of hours and definitely not something you’re going to find yourself wanting to go back and replay later on. There are challenge based missions with leaderboards, four-player splitscreen multiplayer, and up-to-12 player online multiplayer. The multiplayer, as it was with GoldenEye, is fun but still feels like a COD clone. That’s not necessarily a bad thing I suppose given how popular COD multiplayer is, but it is what it is. The community for the game just isn’t there yet; there’s lots of searching for other players, particularly when looking for non-Team Deathmatch games.
007 Legends feels safe. It never rises above simply being an average, mostly generic shooting experience. That’s disappointing not only because I had high hopes for the game and its “original story,” but also because we’ve already seen that Eurocom can develop a great 007 first person shooter. This isn’t great like that one; it’s not even “good.” It’s simply “okay.” It’s not bad, and by that I mean you can have some fun with it, it controls well, and it isn’t a broken mess, but it just never becomes anything more than decent. And it’s certainly not something I can recommend you run out and purchase for $60, although if you catch it in a bargin bin you should definitely pick it up.
If you’re picking up a Wii U (or planning on getting one), just wait and get the game for it. This is definitely a game where the mini-games and things like opening secured doors will be better on the Wii U’s GamePad. Secondly, the Wii U will have exclusive split-screen multiplayer modes and exclusive characters. Not to mention that it’ll be a complete game when it launches in December.
* A copy of this game was provided for review.