Release Date: October 19 (Europe), October 16 (North America)
Platforms available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Genre: First-person shooter
007 Legends is a pretty abysmal way to celebrate 50 years of cinema icon James Bond. You would have thought that 23 films from the franchise would provide more than enough source material to make a killer video game, but instead, you get a Call of Duty clone that is a 00 Disaster. For England, James? No thanks.
For 007 Legends, Eurocom has taken six moments from the past 50 years of Bond covering all six actors who have played the superspy. This includes Goldfinger (Sean Connery), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (George Lazenby), Moonraker (Roger Moore), License to Kill (Timothy Dalton), and Die Another Day (Pierce Brosnan), with a sixth mission based on latest film Skyfall (Daniel Craig) to be released later as free DLC.
The set-up is that we come into a scene from Skyfall, in which Craig's 007 is accidentally shot by a sniper while grappling with an enemy on a train. He then falls into the water below, triggering a series of flashbacks to what we are supposed to believe are his previous missions.
While the Bond character transcends the generations, the truth is that each actor is so closely associated with their eras and films that it is just jarring to play them as Craig. The missions are shunted to the modern day, supposedly in the six-year gap between Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. There are some cool moments, such as the laser scene in Goldfinger, featuring the famous "Do you expect me to talk?" exchange.
However, Craig also tackles Goldfinger with all his fancy gadgets and modern-day weapons, despite the arch villain's plan to irradiate the gold reserves seeming rather charmingly old-fashioned in today's world of cybercrime and electronic wealth.
To be fair, 007 Legends is a playable game in most parts, and the character animations are decent and some attention has been devoted to the production. But overall, the entire experience just feels odd and misplaced.
007 Legends doesn't help itself by shamelessly taking pretty much all its gameplay ideas from best-selling shooters. This is basically a Call of Duty game featuring James Bond, including the controls, gameplay and set pieces lifted wholesale from Activision's blockbuster franchise. Expect to see all the usual suspects, including bullet-time door breaches, mounted chain gun 'last stands' and vehicle sequences - only without the excitement or finesse.
007 Legends struggles equally when it attempts to elevate itself from the shooter monotony. The stealth mechanics are truly awful. With no ability to hide bodies or peek around corners, coupled with too easily-alerted enemies, it is virtually impossible to stay hidden and avoid the carnage. Frustrations grow even more in the compulsory stealth sections with instant failure if you mess up.
Elsewhere, the hacking mini-games are simultaneously simplistic and frustrating; the game fails to properly explain itself at times; the driving missions feature terrible controls, and the boss battles are just basically quick-time events that fail to honour such iconic villains as Oddjob and Jaws. There are some fun moments in 007 Legends and the action flows reasonably freely, but there are just so many flaws that you can't really enjoy the experience.
It is not like Eurocom does not have good past form with Bond. The studio worked on 2011's GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, arguably the best Bond game since the Nintendo 64 original, and has used the same engine for 007 Legends. But where the last game excelled, the new title disappoints with some maddening development decisions.
People will buy 007 Legends because of the Bond connection and how it ties into its 50th anniversary, and that is a shame when GoldenEye 007 Reloaded is a much better product. Some solace can be drawn from the game's multiplayer, particularly the four-player local split screen that harks back to fondly-remembered sessions on the original GoldenEye. But then again, GoldenEye: Reloaded has that too.
While Skyfall, the 23rd Bond movie, has hit the critical heights this month, 007 Legends is just about the worst way to celebrate the British superspy's 50th anniversary. We know Bond video games can work, GoldenEye proved that; so why on earth has this shameless Call of Duty clone been produced? James Bond deserves much better.
> James Bond retrospective: A look back at 007 in video games