007 Legends Review
While playing the excellent GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, my thought process was as follows: “For an HD remake of a classic game, this is pretty damn good. …but Eurocom had best upgrade big time if they want a new, current Bond entry to be taken seriously.” Well, they didn’t upgrade; rather, they just copied what already exists in a rapidly stale-smelling genre and as a result, 007 Legends will not be taken seriously. It can be fun in brief spurts and the multiplayer saves it, but the hardcore Bond fans won’t be happy.
Visually, there’s nothing special here. It only looks marginally better than Reloaded and the environments and landscapes are just plain boring. This makes zero sense as the Bond franchise is well known for exotic locales and satisfying special effects. This isn’t even a vain attempt to capture such an iconic and memorable presentation; this is more of an insult to the flash and panache of James Bond. The detail is mediocre, the settings are drab and uninviting, the effects are ho-hum, and the entire package just sits there. Dull, bland, ultimately unfortunate.
On the audio side, at least we get some of that classic music we all know so well. You can’t really screw that up and thankfully, the soundtrack does do its part to make Legends feel a little more immersive, a little more invigorating on all fronts. But sadly, they didn’t manage to get Daniel Craig’s voice for this game and his sound-alike is just no good. Other actors are a lot like the graphics; i.e., bland and almost the opposite of engaging. Some of the sound effects can be very much in your face and as such, quite effective, but that can’t make up for the clear lacking in other areas.
The campaign starts out promisingly enough. I wasn’t sure how they were going to tell a cohesive story by touching on half a dozen different movies, but it wasn’t a bad idea: At the start of the game, 007 is battling a dude on the roof of a moving train. A mysterious sniper nails him and he falls into the river below and as he’s sinking, he starts seeing flashbacks of his past adventures. So back we go to check out various parts of Goldfinger, Moonraker, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, License to Kill, and Die Another Day. The Skyfall mission is coming soon, by the way.
But instead of Connery and Moore in their correct roles, Daniel Craig has to assume those parts because…well, because obviously, they couldn’t get all the voices and likenesses they needed. It’s definitely a little weird to have Craig play all those Bond roles but it would’ve worked better had the chosen film sections been more involving. For whatever reason, the developers didn’t exactly pick the best parts of those movies (at least, not in my eyes), and it’s all thrown together in a half-ass, slipshod manner that doesn’t really tell us anything. It's just all over the place.
I guess they just assume Bond fans already know the plots of the films in question and I suppose that’s fair. But at the same time, those Bond followers might be downright appalled at how the legendary spy is portrayed in this game. The original, the classic James Bond wasn’t about running through a bunch of baddies with machine guns blazing. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much all you do in every mission; you pause to do some minor spy work, like snapping photos and doing some other snooping around, but it’s mostly just, “shoot everything that moves and get the main villain.”
Essentially, this is Call of Duty only without the requisite technical prowess. You do have the option to approach things quietly and stealthily, and that would’ve been an excellent option if this aspect of the gameplay wasn’t so outdated. Bond should have the coolest gadgets, he should have all the shadow skills, and he should be able to cover his tracks. I want borderline Splinter Cell capability here. Instead, I get tons of guards who continually spot me, no way of hiding bodies, and a ho-hum “sneak up behind and knock ‘em out mechanic.” All this makes the mandatory stealth sections of the game waaaay too tedious.
GoldenEye 007: Reloaded was great fun for both single-player and multiplayer, but the only way you get your money’s worth out of Legends is if you really stick with the multiplayer. And even then, you better be willing to forgive a few shortcomings. At least we get the four-player split-screen option, which isn’t seen often enough these days (and I kinda miss it), and the general competition is entertaining. The Mi6 missions have returned and these can spice up the single-player but ultimately, you should still have a friend or two willing to sit next to you on the couch. Split-screen still rules.
The developers attempt to toss in a few different things here and there, like the occasional car chase or hacking mini-game, but that’s about it. The control is smooth and responsive and the AI isn’t too horribly stupid, but how many times can I rush forward, guns blazing, wondering— “…this is James Bond? Really?” I know we’re mired in a period of history where the average attention span is almost nonexistent and everything has to be constantly moving in order to be popular, but you shouldn’t do this to legends. If you’ve read the books, you know full well that author Ian Fleming never intended Bond to be anything like this.
007 Legends has its moments but they’re too often lost beneath a continual onslaught of repetitive, often tedious, and definitely mindless action. The worst part is that this isn’t faithful to the revered franchise; it’s faithless. The multiplayer might keep you coming back for more, and there’s no doubt that some of the missions are super fun to play. That’s about the best that can be said for this one, though, and it’s disappointing. Still, I have to say, I almost expected it…Eurocom can do the HD remake but they’ve never exhibited the requisite capability to produce an up-to-date adventure. This feels old and isn’t an appropriate homage, and that’s that.
The Good: Some of the missions are shoot-‘em-up fun. Control is tight and fluid. Multiplayer, especially split-screen, is great.
The Bad: Dated technical elements. Mediocre voice performances. Overall bland and uninspired presentation. AI isn’t too bright. Story is pretty worthless. Repetitive, outdated gameplay. Unfaithful to the James Bond name.
The Ugly: “Mr. Fleming’s rolling over in his grave right about now.”
10/18/2012 Ben Dutka