With its Pearl anniversary this year, Ian Fleming has undeniably created a legend and suitably iconic supporting cast in Bond. James Bond. With a history almost as turbulent as Bond himself, is there better way to honour 007’s incomparable legacy than to create a game which not only includes the latest iteration, Skyfall, but five of the most iconic Bond films of all time? Well, yes, because 007 Legends is nothing short of atrocious. 100 monkeys at 100 typewriters, over an infinite amount of time will eventually write a work of literary genius, but it seems Eurocom are destined to never create even a remotely enjoyable game.
With barely functional combat, 007 Legends has the feel, look and rotten stench of a mediocre Call of Duty 4 mod, with vast segments which would’ve looked spectacularly bland back in 2007. Guns have absolutely no weight at all, with no clear distinction between one another, most scenarios can be handled with the stock Walther P99, rendering many of the allegedly more powerful weapons useless. Shotguns cause enemies to flop straight into ragdoll mode in a way so unconvincing it would make a game like Unreal Tournament 2003 red with embarrassment. Bond just doesn’t feel like the razor-sharp killing machine you’d expect, enemies take far too many bullets, resulting in combat feeling more Johnny English than James Bond.
Stealth elements feel similarly ham-handed and largely superfluous, especially when left in the wakes of combat masterclasses from the likes of Dishonored. Upon alerting an enemy of your presence, each instinctively know Bond’s position, haphazardly attempting to shoot through walls, a mere footnote in 007 Legend’s inherently abysmal AI.
With so many opportunities to recreate iconic Bond moments, with appropriate theme music and delicious combat, 007 Legends regularly yanks control away from the player to display lukewarm buckets of cinematic slop, far inferior to those of the films, negating the very purpose 007 Legends is meant to serve in an interactive medium and no amount of sporadically-placed quite-time events will change this.
Gadgets are at best redundant and at worst an irritating means of shattering immersion. Hacking keypads requires flitting back and forth between Bond’s anachronistic deus ex machina smartphone and pad itself, creating frustration and adding to the growing desire to put the game down and do anything else.
The solitary piece of care and attention put into the game itself, aside from the fantastic opening credits, are the likenesses of the Legends themselves, Blofeld is clearly Blofeld, Goldfinger is Goldfinger and Craig is Bond but poor lip-synching makes faces look like the cheap silicon masks bank robbers wear. Combine this with Timothy Watson’s best Tesco Store Manager impression
as if Daniel Craig only did it out of cold-calculated contractual obligation and you’ve got yourself a lifeless mess.
Hand-to-hand combat is equally half-hearted, thumbsticks for the appropriate high and low, left and right-sided attacks but it fails to achieve any sort of fluidity; a tedious exercise in waiting for the thoroughly patronising quick-time button icons to appear. 007 Legends is consistently both overly patronising and completely baffling in its mission markers, blurting out “shoot here” in the most obvious of situations then not affording a single clue when advice is sorely necessary.
The competitive multiplayer is but another good idea on paper, with Legends mode allowing player control of Bond villains, each with unique abilities, but the limp combat combined with the heinous crime of recycling identical segments from the single player really is the final nail in 007’s coffin. So many elements of 007 Bond are systemic indications of a short development cycle: segments of Blofeld’s lair are “night vision” with the sole intention of covering up beige level design and textures, running doesn’t decrease shooting accuracy and a myriad of elements are simply recycled from aged Call of Duty titles.
Not only is 007 Legends a terrible game, it goes one step further and is quite possibly one of the worst Bond iterations to date. Especially in this, its 50th glorious Anniversary, 007 Legends is nothing short of an insult the good name of Bond. A game which feels more like shopping in Lidl than playing the part of Bond, chock full of bland, lifeless environments and an overwhelming sense of vapidity saps the very soul, personality or charm from a potentially brilliant game. Created without the slightest attention to detail, Bond’s Aston Martin Vanquish is a left-hand drive and Blofeld seems to have an iPad atop his desk, 007 Legends is as jaded and desensitised to the action and explosions as Bond himself. A joyless exposition of a criminally short development cycle, it’s high time the Bond name was afforded a proper developer, given an appropriate budget and given the tribute it sorely deserves.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
The off button.
Tepid combat, environments, level design, dialogue, animation, AI, cutscenes and general lack enjoyment.