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007 Legends review

Mediocre
AT A GLANCE
  • Fan service and homages
  • Interesting stealth and melee
  • Plenty of level variety
  • The fact that there’s no ending
  • Bland shooting and uninspired level design
  • Seriously, the game shipped without an ending

In the late ‘90s, James Bond’s name was as synonymous with first-person shooters as Mario’s was with platforming. But things have changed since 007 was perched atop the genre’s ranks on the N64. Now, Activision’s Call of Duty franchise is the reigning king, and the yearly releases of 007 games feel like an obligation of the publisher more than an earnest attempt at rekindling old feelings for the character. 007 Legends is the latest experiment with resuscitating the agent’s muddied gaming career, and though there are some interesting ideas scattered throughout, the overall game is more Quantum of Solace than Casino Royale. Actually, it might be more Austin Powers in Goldmember.

Watch the launch trailer to see the different locations

Beginning with a scene out of the as-of-yet unreleased Skyfall, 007 Legends shows Daniel Craig’s James Bond being struck by a sniper’s bullet while fighting on a moving train, causing the agent to stumble off the side and into the lake below. As he descends into the dark depths, his past adventures flash before his eyes, giving you an excuse to play through abridged climaxes of his classic spy movies. Even Bond’s near-death experiences are cool.

As expected, a majority of the game is spent gun in-hand as Bond runs through Goldfinger, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Die Another Day, License to Kill, and Moonraker, killing lackeys non-stop for the five-hour long jaunt. There are times where shooter in Legends clicks--some gunfights are exciting, and blasting away inaccurate henchman definitely evokes the James Bond vibe--but a majority of the time, the major set-piece battles end up remarkably dull. Each movie has its own set of levels that follow the same basic rhythm, with you controlling Bond as he blows his way from uninteresting battle to uninteresting battle, occasionally stopping for frustrating driving segments that the game would be better without, even if it adds some interesting variety.

Sometimes, though, you’ll be allowed to do more than simply run through hallways filling generic enemies with bullets. At some points you’re tasked with using Bond’s gadgets to stealthily work your way through guard-filled rooms, or asked to investigate an area for clues. Surprisingly, these segments can work well. They’re still not great, or even all that good, but they’re at least serviceable, and set 007 Legends apart from others in the genre--at least for fleeting moments.

The occasional brawler segments fall into that same class, earning points for originality even if they’re a bit one-note and simplistic. It’s strange that, despite being built modeled after Treyarch’s and Infinity Ward’s shooter, Legends falters the most when it comes to doing what Call of Duty does best, and shows the most promise when it attempts to stray off the beaten path.

These occasional glimpses of ambitious gameplay don’t carry over to the story in the least, which incoherently jogs from plotline to plotline with no aspirations to create a cohesive experience. The narrative feels disjointed and rushed, making no attempts at actually linking together these moments, or even explaining why James is randomly remembering these specific journeys. They also lack context: Bond aficionados might understand why there’s a gold-painted woman laying nude at the beginning of the Goldfinger level, but those who haven’t followed the double-oh agent’s journeys will likely be in the dark.

Even fans might end up having problems with the way the story is told, despite nonstop nods to the classic franchise. All of the films are forced into modern-day settings, even when it doesn’t always make that much sense. As such, it runs into the same problem as the Goldeneye remake: Too much power is given to the almighty smartphone, creating a Bond that feels less sleek and savvy than before. What’s worse, memorable Bond villains and characters are reduced to mere soundbites, wheeled in to deliver their lines versus a very bored Daniel Craig and then dragged away until it’s time for yet another melee battle. Some might toss a “fan service” flag over the entire thing as an excuse, but it’s more of a wet blanket.

And while that’s all fairly problematic, even more disturbing is that the story doesn’t have an ending at all. Once the Moonraker level (abruptly) ends, the credits flash up, promising free downloadable content tying to Skyfall in early November. This DLC isn’t just another mission--it’s the actual ending of the game. The fact that Legends is getting more content in the coming weeks isn’t really a problem (in fact, it’s a neat way to tie in the upcoming movie without being held back by the release date of the film), but when the core, framing narrative that begins in the game isn’t finished in the game, it’s unforgivable.

 
See how Bond's melee works in 007 Legends

Once you’ve finished the short, ending-less campaign, there’s not much to keep you around besides waiting for the Skyfall DLC. Multiplayer offerings are heavy on substance, but they’re nothing to get excited about--something made worse by empty servers and laggy gameplay. There’s a challenge mode, too, which actually does a good job of presenting some of the more interesting ideas from the game in bite-sized form. But they aren’t really all that entertaining either, and you’ll have to really force yourself to find an excuse to try to best your score in a middling romp through a level you already played.

Bond’s latest shooter is barely kept afloat throughout the five-hour-long campaign, but while it has a smattering of good ideas, they’re buried beneath concepts so tired, you’ll have a hard time caring. It's a game filled with occasional highs and frequent lows--and you’ll be thrown between them so quickly and haphazardly that you’ll be lucky to make it through 007 Legends without whiplash.

This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.

More Info

Release date: Oct 16 2012 - PS3, Xbox 360 (US)
Available Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Activision
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Blood, Drug Reference, Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Language

Topics

James Bond

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33 comments

  • michael-gourley - January 14, 2013 12:53 p.m.

    Anyone got any ideas to destroying the arms in moonraker mission on ps3 I can do it I can get the first one but not the rest
  • robert-castleberry - October 18, 2012 6:53 a.m.

    Let's everyone take a moment and stop whining about what the game doesn't have and take a look at what it does: Action, Gunfire, Explosions, James Bond, Great moments from past bond movies, and best of all FUN! I love this game. Honestly, I find the story setup no different really then Black Ops. Fading in and out of different events while in a torturous present moment. Now if you'd like to continue to cry like a little girl who had her pigtails pulled I can easily play a few songs on my miniature violin. :)
  • Fruitbat - October 19, 2012 4:27 p.m.

    I LOVE THIS SO ANYONE WHO DOESN'T LIKE IT MUST JUST BE WHINING.
  • Hobogonigal - October 18, 2012 2:42 a.m.

    Hey James Bond affectionados. Do you remember that scene in the film Goldfinger when James Bond has to storm his way into Fort Knox and then he is confronted by a big tank which shoots deadly laser beams. You know, and then he has to blow it up with RPG's whilst slaughtering dozens of Goldfinger's henchmen? Oh wait hold on, that's ridiculous. That would make no sense at all... but who cares, it's in 007 legends.
  • robert-castleberry - October 18, 2012 6:42 a.m.

    You're right. Should be just like the movies where we get to walk around the whole time eavesdropping and getting captured and MAYBE shooting one or two people. That would be FUN!!! People complaining about shooting in a FPS? What has happened to the gaming community?
  • Hobogonigal - October 19, 2012 3:04 a.m.

    Laser tank. Goldfinger. RPG Three words that any James Bond fan will recognise do not match together. Also, you may have not realised but plenty of FPS games incorporate something called the 'stealthy approach'. Being one man instead of having superpowers, James Bond in both films and books tends to use the stealthy approach over Chuck Norrising his enemies. Some FPSs with stealth elements include games like Dishonoured, Deus Ex, Far Cry, Crysis, Rainbow Six, Thief and Chronicles of Riddick but of course its not as if these games are really popular so I can understand you not realising this... The game commemorates 50 years of Bond films and the inaccuracies just make me want to facepalm. Oh and to your ending comment; the gaming community is still the same, because there are still people like you who post without actually thinking things through first-hand.
  • michael-gourley - January 15, 2013 8:49 a.m.

    It's the best bond game do u know how to destroy the arms on moonraker mission on ps3 I can't do it i can do the first onr
  • Hobogonigal - January 16, 2013 5:08 a.m.

    I'm sorry, but I don't own this monstrosity of a James Bond game. IGN might do a walkthrough though if you're lucky?
  • lazer59882 - October 18, 2012 2:12 a.m.

    ahhh so this explains all the james bond related articles and stuff you guys have been writing... wait, no it doesn't, cause apparently this game sucks.
  • talleyXIV - October 17, 2012 3:37 p.m.

    The Auto-Aim in that video is ridiculous.
  • ObliqueZombie - October 17, 2012 3:24 p.m.

    Also, I think you guys should add the developer(s) to the "More Info" section of the game, unless it's already stated and I'm missing it... ?
  • ObliqueZombie - October 17, 2012 3:23 p.m.

    I know it's Activision, but the gunplay literally looks like Call of Duty, no exceptions. And the fact that the melee system (one of the "good" things about the game) is a series of QTEs and uninspired "finishers" is sad. Good thing I was never a Bonde fan, at least not after Pierce Brosnan.
  • robert-castleberry - October 18, 2012 6:47 a.m.

    People rave about how good the gunplay is in Call of Duty, but complain when it's used in other games. I know it's Hershey's, but the chocolate literally tastes the same in my Mounds as it does in Almond Joy. Bastards! :) You were a pierce brosnan fan? That explains everything! lol
  • ObliqueZombie - October 18, 2012 9:24 a.m.

    It's one thing to have gunplay as steady and reliable as Call of Duty, and another to simply copy it from the sound, the recoil, and even the way it's held in the player's hands.
  • Hobogonigal - October 19, 2012 5:40 a.m.

    Pierce Brosnan was great! Don't disrespect the Brosnan (apart from Die another Day. Say whatever you want about that film it was rubbish bar the Aston Martin Vanish)!!!!!!
  • Fursnake - October 17, 2012 3:22 p.m.

    So take past Bond movie elements and mish mash them together with a contrived plot gadget to set them up, add a half-assed tie to the new Bond movie for that extra bit of franchisation. And none of them thought that sounded like a waste of time on paper?
  • Net_Bastard - October 17, 2012 1:52 p.m.

    Great. Now another company is getting the boot.
  • Moondoggie1157 - October 17, 2012 1:10 p.m.

    Leave it to Activision to release an incomplete game and expect a full payment price... Pathetic. This seriously scares me, what if this becomes the norm? I mean, I never thought DLC would take off like it did, but now releasing a games ending as said DLC? That's low, real low... Even for a new shitty Bond game.
  • tehtimeisnow - October 17, 2012 12:27 p.m.

    yah i new that this game wuold suck cuz its just a bad call of duty ripof ha ah no thakns ill just play the superier black op 2 insted
  • shadow707 - October 17, 2012 1:05 p.m.

    It was published by actvision dumbass...I'm pretty sure they're allowed to rip off their own games

Showing 1-20 of 33 comments

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