James Bond: 007 Legends review

With the iconic James Bond franchise celebrating its fifty year anniversary, MGM has decided to pull out all the stops by not only releasing the first new Bond film since 2008’s Quantum of Solace, but also releasing Bond 50, a box set containing each of the 22 released James Bond films on Blu Ray. In hoping to further the celebratory mood, Activision brought in Eurocom, the studio behind the 2010 remake of GoldenEye 007, to give a retrospective take on some of Bond’s most defining moments. While the idea is sound: bring a greatest hits collection of James Bond moments into one package — not unlike what SEGA did with Sonic Generations – the execution of 007 Legends will leave nearly everyone wondering why this game had to come to Bond’s 50th birthday party and ruin all the fun.

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Dr. Oh No

The campaign of 007 Legends allows players to relive classic Bond moments that span five of his most memorable films. From Goldfinger to Die Another Day, many fan favorites are represented. The odd thing is, each of the five films represented features a different Bond actor, but in the game, every iteration of Bond is played by Daniel Craig’s likeness. With Craig not even voicing his own character, it would have seemed more appropriate to have the likenesses of Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan with sound-alike voice actors delivering the limited lines that Bond gives throughout the campaign. Eurocom attempts to justify the decision  by saying that it’s supposed to be one cohesive storyline that branches the five films together, but if that were truly the mission of the game, the lack of any real ending to the story is then inexcusable.

Rather than Eurocom choosing one health system, players are given the opportunity to select either Classic Mode (a health system that relies on med kits and body armor) or Modern Mode (a system that features regenerating health). Unfortunately, it ends up being one of the only design decisions that sets 007 Legends apart from the rest of the first person shooter genre.

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The Moonraker scenes had so much potential, but they end up being some of the most frustrating of the campaign.

Silenced potential

007 Legends could have been a decent game, but minor technical issues and some serious design flaws end up bringing the entire experience down. The game isn’t the worst-looking title, and the latter portions of the campaign do contain some very cinematic moments, but the graphics are inconsistent, and the voice acting is very hit-or-miss. Screen-tearing runs so rampant that it even bleeds over into the main menu of the game. Enemies also have a tendency to fall against walls following death, causing them to remain upright, making it difficult to differentiate between living and dead opponents in the heat of a shootout.

Frustration will be a common theme in a playthrough of 007 Legends, as sharp difficulty spikes combine with uneven checkpoints and trial-and-error-based sequences to provide rage-inducing results. There are also times in the game where the AI surprises the player in the worst possible way. More than once, I experienced my AI-controlled ally pushing me out of cover and directly into gunfire. The AI seems to be unaware of dynamic situations occurring around them, as I witnessed AI allies and enemies run straight into live grenades. In addition, enemies will sometimes inexplicably shoot through walls and actually deal damage to you.

The multiplayer will feel familiar for those who played GoldenEye 007: Reloaded. The cooperative Mi6 Operatives mode is back, allowing players to complete objectives with friends, and, of course, players looking for the traditional competitive multiplayer modes will find a lot to do in 007 Legends. There is no shortage of modes and upgrade options in multiplayer, and, spawn killing issues aside, the game handles better online than it does in the campaign, but that really isn’t saying much.

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You will likely finding yourself killing more enemies in 007 Legends than you have in any Call of Duty title.

Bland. James Bland.

The biggest issue 007 Legends has doesn’t lie in technical or presentational aspects, but rather in the feeling, or lack thereof, in the game. Nothing in 007 Legends stands out as spectacular, and the repetitious linearity that comes with your standard “Point A to point B killing spree” design accentuates the painful mediocrity of the title.

Unlike 2004’s Everything or Nothing, there is rarely a moment in 007 Legends where the player will feel like they are controlling James Bond. In fact, aside from the inferior shooting mechanics, the less-than-inspired level design and the not-so-subtle character cameos, it’s difficult to differentiate 007 Legends from early entries in the Call of Duty franchise. Eurocom attempted to remedy this by including sections where Bond would need to use gadgets like his cell phone or wristwatch to progress, but these moments end up setting the pacing off even more than the shooting does on its own.

To Eurocom’s credit, the developer does try to mix things up. 007 Legends attempts to channel the spirit of Bond with various stealth-based missions, but sloppy design and poor AI make them forgettable at best and infuriating at worst. The hand-to-hand combat sequences that become common to the point of overkill as the campaign progresses are actually quite enjoyable, but after participating in a few of these fights, players will see them for what they are: glorified quick-time-events. Really, the only curveball in the formula that works is the driving mechanics. Unfortunately, in one instance, the driving transitions to a laughable shooting sequence where James Bond has the miraculous ability to destroy enemy Hummers with a single shot of his silenced pistol. Even the character progression, which works off XP earned throughout the campaign, feels tacked-on and unremarkable.

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007 Legends — The Game is Not Enough

007 Legends doesn’t follow any one movie license, so you can’t blame the poor end result on the developers trying too hard to remain loyal to the source material. In fact, it’s almost refreshing how many liberties were taken in the development of 007 Legends. What you can blame the game’s upsetting state on, though, is a common occurrence with movie-licensed video games: the rushed timeframe the developers must have had when attempting to get the game out prior to the release of the upcoming Skyfall. As a result, players are left with a bland, disjointed experience that fails to do the James Bond film franchise justice and does even less to help celebrate the fifty year-mark of Great Britain’s greatest spy.

  • Release Date: October 16, 2012
  • Genre: First Person Shooter
  • Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U
  • Developers: Eurocom
  • Publisher: Activision
  • ESRB Rating: Teen
  • MSRP: $59.99

Our Score: 2/5

Review Statement: An Xbox 360 copy of the game was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

About Brian Shea

Brian Shea is VGW's Editor-in-Chief and one of the founding members of the site. In addition to leading the team at VideoGameWriters.com, he contributes such regular features as “Shea’s Say,” "Eleven Things," "Commercials from the Past" and “Essential Gaming."
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  1. Damn it. I was looking forward to something even half decent from this.

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