There are certain games that come out of the gate feeling like they simply should have never been released. 007 Legends is one of those titles. Developed by the highly capable team at Eurocom (developers of the very solid Goldeneye Reloaded), 007 Legends feels like something went terribly awry during production. Weird design choices mixed with glitches and plenty of frustrating chokepoints make for a Bond experience that I simply did not want to continue taking.
Instead of falling in line with licensed games, 007 Legends mixes up things by cycling through several previous movies, but of course with Daniel Craig substituted for the previous actors. The story begins with Bond on top of a train fighting when another MI6 agent attempts to snipe his adversary, she instead hits Bond and he falls backwards into the water. From here, you start to have flashbacks to older movies. The lineup includes Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, License to Kill, Die Another Day and Moonraker. There are some decent choices in there, but certainly not the cream of the crop.
Each movie has its own set of missions, with a sixth and final campaign launching in November for the movie Skyfall. This would not be so jarring if not for the fact that the ending is included in that free DLC. This means once you finish the last mission of Moonraker, you are abruptly sent to the credits screen. I imagine they didn’t want to spoil Skyfall, and that is admirable, but what about those who don’t have online access that are looking for the full campaign experience? Sure it is a small portion of the population, but some gamers are not getting the full experience out of the box.
As for the gameplay, things feel awfully familiar here. I never mind when a game borrows from another franchise. In fact, when your developers are in the same wheelhouse, things can start to feel familiar. However, 007 Legends feels like it was literally prototyped as the next Call of Duty game. Everything, from the waypoint marker to the infinite enemies spawning at chokepoints, is straight out of CoD. This wouldn’t be so bad if Bond was that type of game. Most people don’t associate MI6’s greatest agent with mowing down hundreds of enemies with a single clip. It just doesn’t happen.
Again, this would be entirely forgivable if it worked. The problem with 007 Legends is that none of the shooting ever feels interesting. Each movie feels like a recycled idea. Infiltrate base, mow down bad guys, fight final boss, insert nostalgia and move on. Sure, there are neat mini-games sprinkled in along with some driving segments that I wish hadn’t been, but the formula remains pretty much intact for the bulk of the campaign. Boss fights consist of a terrible mix of quicktime events that resemble a poor man’s punch out. They are neither intuitive nor fun. There are also tons of glitches and weird design choices. Watching enemies run into walls is hilarious at times, but also removes the challenge. Then you have their other form, where they are picking you off from hundreds of yards away without ever laying eyes on them.
The problem is that it is never consistent. You can be mowing down brainless drones one second, only to watch them pick you off like professionals the next. It is like the game was never tested. There are also choke points throughout the campaign. For example, the first mission of the second level has you skiing after your partner. I literally tried this mission over 15 times in a row as it holds an instant fail mechanic that triggers if you don’t keep up. The problem is that they are on snowmobiles, and I was on skis. Until I figured out the proper path and mechanic, I spent most of the time watching the game over screen and waiting on a reload. These types of issues are consistent throughout the entire game.
Outside of the main story you have the return of challenges, which are basically mini-missions that have specific objectives and rankings. Again, the same problems from the main game pour over into these making them again feel like a chore. There is also a weapon upgrade system in place, along with in-game challenges such as killing enemies with certain weapons and accuracy. These add XP that allows you to unlock new attachments for weapons. This is a neat idea, but I couldn’t figure out why I could only upgrade at weapon cases considering I could purchase said upgrades anytime. It just feels broken in its design.
You also have multiplayer both online and split screen. Fans of classic couch competitive modes will definitely appreciate the four-player option, but if you own Goldeneye Reloaded already, there isn’t much to see here. Online is a drag. They have dropped the player count down to 12 from 16, and every match I got into was plagued with lag. Shooting enemies that aren’t moving, only to end up dead two seconds later, is not fun, nor is it acceptable in this day and age. It’s especially problematic when you drop the player count. There is an upgrade system, but to be fair it lacks enough to even call it “Call of Duty light.”
The game looks fine in some places and downright ridiculous in others. The frame rate can be solid at times, though the screen tearing is absolutely atrocious. Character faces look good most of the time, and the guns look all right. Level design feels lazy, and the frame rate can take hits more often than not. One of the most mind-boggling decisions, though are the changes. Seeing Craig as every Bond is jarring, but can be overlooked. The voice work is what bothers me the most. Craig’s impersonator is painful, but then you get Richard Kiel reprising his role as Jaws and Judi Dench once again serves as M, who are both great. Then you get the really awkward Halle Berry character from Die Another Day, Jinx, and the developers didn’t even bother to use her likeness or voice. It is decisions like these that define 007 Legends.
007 Legends seems like a good idea from the outside, but I had to wonder who the game is for. It doesn’t remind me of Bond, it is chock full of generic gameplay and the glitches and design choices are poor. Overall, it is just not a fun game to play, but it should be. The idea of making a good Bond game shouldn’t be this difficult. There is so much content and history to build from I can’t imagine how this could have gone so wrong. Toss in that the final chapter of the game won’t even be available until November, and the answer is clear. 007 Legends is an unfinished game that no one will likely bother to finish.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.