(Wii U)

Game Review

James Bond: 007 Legends Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Thunderbore

With the new James Bond film Skyfall currently rocking movie theaters across the globe, you might expect this year's 007 game to be all about the present. Instead, Eurocom's swansong digs into the franchise's rich 50-year legacy, updating some of Bond's more memorable moments for the modern era. With the successful re-imagining of GoldenEye and a history of reasonably good Bond games dating back to the N64, Eurocom has proven that they know their way around a Bond movie or two. But could they manage six of them at once in 007 Legends?

Not like this, no. By stripping these films of their era and charm, cramming them under Craig's gritty and glum interpretation of Bond and homogenizing them into a by-the-numbers Call of Duty clone, 007 Legends isn't so much kiss kiss, bang bang as it is ho-hum, rat-tat-tat.

007 Legends opens at the close of Skyfall's opening scene, with our curmudgeon hero locked in combat with a man on top of a speeding train. A sniper, under MI-6 boss M's urging, takes a shot and hits 007, sending him plummeting into a body of water. With death seeming imminent, some of Bond's prior missions flash before his eyes — Sean Connery's Goldfinger, George Lazenby's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Roger Moore's Moonraker, Timothy Dalton's License to Kill, and Pierce Brosnan's Die Another Day. It's something of a forced setup for a strange pick of flicks — although we suppose the flashbacks do fulfil their narrative purpose — hampered by a seeming reluctance to revisit Bond films that already received a dedicated game.

Herein lies the core of 007 Legends' problems: its elements are forced and disjointed with none meshing particularly well into a cohesive whole. The flashback structure removes any real flow to the story, leaving the game up to an incoherent slog through odd "re-imaginings" that are ill-suited to string together. By going down the hard shooter path, Legends sometimes doesn't even get the memorable parts right — Bond's car in Die Another Day stays firmly visible, Goldfinger's Fort Knox is a war zone, and Moonraker goes absolutely batty with zero gravity. Gameplay is virtually indistinguishable from any other modern military shooter and rudimentary in execution, which puts Bond more often than not in the role of blunt soldier rather than super spy. Stealthy bits try to fill this gap but are done in the most basic way possible: nobody knows Bond is there until one sentry spots him, and then every single entity in the vicinity knows exactly where he is, even if away from their field of vision. The only way to take out an enemy and remain in stealth is to hope that nobody else sees the corpse, which can involve a lot of trial and error to learn the room's movement patterns. Unless explicitly forced to stay hidden, there is zero gameplay incentive to do so. Remaining hidden tends to frustrate more than anything and often falls back to shooting everything to bits anyway, the exact opposite of "stealth."

Shooting isn't very much fun either. 007 Legends follows the Call of Duty template but crucially lacks the same flow of combat. Aiming down the sights snaps in an exemplary rigid way to basically eliminate any human factor of combat — dealing with swarms of enemies quickly becomes a robotic left-trigger, right-trigger slog. Pointer controls are not supported, leaving players with either the Pro Controller or GamePad. Choosing the former brings the same experience as on other platforms, and the latter goes woefully underused, settling on placing a mini-map and quick-select buttons for weapons and equipment. The trouble is that these new buttons aren't necessarily more convenient; not only do players have to divert attention away from the screen to change weapons in a heated fire-fight, but the same action can be done with a quick tap on the controller. HUD elements can't be removed from the main screen and are instead only duplicated on the GamePad, rendering the second screen fairly useless. Off-screen play is not supported despite not needing the screen for anything else.

007 Legends does take a few stabs at innovation and honouring past Bond tropes, but to little fanfare. Extending the multiplayer's XP challenges into the campaign is perhaps Legends' most notable attempt at branching out but proves unnecessary — the core gameplay is resistant to superfluous weapon attachments (that can be found on weapons littered around anyway) and health boosts. And options like non-regenerating health and additional objectives on higher difficulties prove stubbornly throw-away — there is no penalty for failing a secondary objective other than going without the XP rewards, which were largely pointless to begin with.

That isn't to say everything is terrible — when 007 Legends comes together it can be impressive indeed, like in the zero-gravity space laser battle madness of Moonraker, but the problem is that the game so seldom hits these highs. And between all the memorable Bond moments the game depicts, Eurocom always yanks back the controller — instead of letting players square off against Oddjob in Fort Knox, trading blows and dodging hats, players get in a weird QTE fist-fight and then watch the second most memorable part of the movie pantomimed by digital puppets. Scenes like these feel discombobulated, and for a game that is essentially hinges upon memorable Bond moments, it's a dire thing indeed to have them feel so hollow.

Eurocom has managed to scrounge together likeness rights for nearly every notable character of these films — and the number of which shows a commendable attempt at remaining faithful to the franchise's legacy — but the ones who bear no resemblance to their on-screen actor shatter much of the greater illusion, standing out like a sore thumb. Felix Leiter looks disturbingly nothing like Jeffrey Wright, who has depicted the character in the Craig films, and Die Another Day's Jinx replaces Halle Berry with a dull white lady. Dropping characters from the franchise's early days into a modern-day setting has a weird time-warp effect, most bothersome during Goldfinger and Moonraker but less egregious as the films get younger.

Speaking of dull and out-of-place characters, the voice work is dreary through and through, with Craig's sound-alike putting in an incredibly flat performance that undermines any sort of narrative tension. You'd expect someone strapped to a table with a laser creeping toward their crouch to sound a little more alarmed than if they were reading a sign in a parking garage, but alas. At least Judi Dench puts in a serviceable performance as M.

GoldenEye's four-player split-screen and online multiplayer suite returns with a few extra modes but not enough to persuade anyone away from their shooter of choice. While plenty of fun can be had locally, running around flinging hats at friends as Oddjob, the maps aren't as fun as before and there is not much here to elevate Legends above 2010's outing. We had zero luck starting a Quick Match in any of the modes, so unless the audience picks up drastically we wouldn't expect much life out of this one online.

Conclusion

007 Legends' greatest failing is that it cherry picks moments from Bond's illustrious history but fails to capture their hearts, all the while lacking self-generated value as its own game. Die-hard Bond fans will feel underwhelmed — if not peeved — by the treatment of these films, and the lowest-common-denominator approach to gameplay is downright bland. Considering Eurocom's experience with the franchise we would have expected better from the studio, and it is with some sadness that the spy who loved them proved to be their undoing.

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User Comments (44)

Gameday

#6

Gameday said:

This was suppose to be legendary status... Just a cash in... N64 007 always and forever.

DreamyViridi

#7

DreamyViridi said:

Ignoring the Wii version of 007, are we?
OK, I see how it is...

It's a shame this game is so bad, my friends would have loved it.

Kirk

#9

Kirk said:

This is such a shame because I genuinely thought GoldenEye 007 on Wii was brilliant. It wasn't perfect but it was one of the most enjoyable fps games I've played in years, in both single and multi-player, and imo one of the most polished and more fun games on Wii. I just dunno how they could have got it so wrong with this new game on Wii U when they got it so right on Wii for the most part.

TheRavingTimes

#11

TheRavingTimes said:

You know something is off when one of the worst Bond movies (Moonraker) is included in the mix. Why didn't they use Live or Let Die or The Spy Who Loved Me for Roger Moore's movie?

luminalace

#14

luminalace said:

Sad because I wanted this game to be good! Also really sad that this was Eurocom's last ever game...really not a great example of how capable they were!

Gamesake

#15

Gamesake said:

Eurocom's latest 007 is a by-the-numbers Call of Duty clone? Well at least they're keeping with tradition.

RetrogamerFan

#16

RetrogamerFan said:

Dissapointing. By the time i get a Wii U, this might already be in the bargain bins, so i might still pick it up if i can get it cheap, because i'm a big bond-film fan.

ajcismo

#17

ajcismo said:

Being a total Bond junkie, I really want to pick this one up but the reviews have been mediocre at best. So badly want Goldeneye on a VC in the worst way.

HawkeyeWii

#18

HawkeyeWii said:

4...really s 4? Come on. I'd say a 6 but that's just me (And that still isn't that good)

Banker-Style

#20

Banker-Style said:

Loved Goldeneye on Wii,and I still play it a lot today.
I'll probably pick this up if it comes to the UK,but only when it's about £20

Pete_Stooge

#22

Pete_Stooge said:

I think Nintendo should have banned this if it's this bad. Nintendo and Bond go hand in hand. This doesn't do the system a favor.

BossBattles

#23

BossBattles said:

@Pete Stooge

that has no logical sense to anything. Every system ever made has horrible games made for it. LOL. gamers today are really out of it, aren't they?

Dreadjaws

#26

Dreadjaws said:

I just recently got Goldeneye for the Wii and I'm really enjoying it. A shame about this game, since Skyfall raised my latent Bond fanatism and had this been any good it would have made a great entry in my library, along the also-recently purchased Bond 50 Blu Ray set.

Sun

#27

Sun said:

Jon Wahlgren, it's not Eurocom's fault but Activision's. They are capable of much more, but now Activision closed them down.

cdude

#30

cdude said:

Well i like it. Its not broken, glitchy or boring and it plays fine. It's not perfect, but it was never going to be. I was never expecting 9s and 10s, but 4s and 5s just seem ridiculous. Now we're deducting points because the levels that would be boring to play through have been reimagined and altered from the original film to give the player something to do at these locations aside from walk straight and push the flirt button?

I dont care how a game compares to call of duty because i'm sick of call of duty. Im not trying to out-opinion anyone here, but, honestly the game doesnt really deserve anything less than a 6. Personally, i'd give it a 7.5. Its a bond game that does bond related things while also doing standard shooter things that bond games have always done. What were you guys really expecting this to be, a reinvention of the licensed movie game genre?

Sun

#31

Sun said:

Problem is Activision did not give enough time to Eurocom, the game was not as good as expected, specially after the great Goldeneye Wii and Activision closed this wonderful developer down. Shame on you. Everything about the money, that stinks.

Chunky_Droid

#32

Chunky_Droid said:

Wii version of Goldeneye with Daniel Craig < N64 version of Goldeneye with Pierce Brosnan anyday

One can only assume all these bad reviews (of what appears to be a bad game of course) is the reason it's not coming to Australia.

SMW

#33

SMW said:

Too bad. Goldeneye Wii was pretty fun, but really did not feel like a Bond game. It looks like Legends went ever further away from being a Bond game based on this review.

I never thought I'd prefer EA, but I miss having Bond games made by EA. They made some of my favorite Bond games with Everything or Nothing and From Russia with Love. EA didn't do too well with multiplayer aside from the co-op mode in Everything or Nothing, though. Rare is still the king at Bond games.

Activision and Eurocom just don't get what a Bond game should be. It shouldn't be strictly a shooter. We need gadgets, car chases, and be required to think before we act. Running around shooting everything in sight is not how these games should be.

EDIT: Also is Q missing from this game? How can they not include Q?! He wasn't in Goldeneye Wii either, was he?

Urbanhispanic

#34

Urbanhispanic said:

I loved Goldeneye for the N64 and always had great memories. The updated Wii version does the original justice and I still play it online to this very day. I had high hopes for this title but the 360/PS3 versions got bad reviews and this one didn't turn out any better. I wish the ex Eurocom workers the best of luck.

HillKrowns

#36

HillKrowns said:

I believe that most Reviews are just dead wrong When it comes to 007 legends I have really enjoyed the time I've had with it, Best bond game since goldeneye in my opinion, But I'm a Bond nut, My problem is I can't find anyone to play online rarely. Add me on nintendo network (HillKrowns)

Ian_Daemon

#38

Ian_Daemon said:

The removal of "wiimote & nunchuk" controls killed any chance that I'd buy this bland Bond game. GoldenEye Wii was a lot of fun. (I even liked the Conduit series, although not nearly as much.) Seeing as this was made by the same people that did GoldenEye Wii, removal of the "wiimote & nunchuk" controls makes zero sense.

millarrp

#40

millarrp said:

It's too bad..was looking forward to this one actually, maybe if the price drops I might pick it up

coreyerb

#41

coreyerb said:

Honestly, you started with a distaste for the idea behind the game (which you misunderstood based on your comment on why they selected each film) and never justified anything beyond that. The flashback setup was intended, you don't get to change that. Your review simply tells me what kind of game you'd have preferred, not whether they accomplished what they were after.

I'm a die-hard Bond fan and I didn't feel underwhelmed or peeved at the films' treatment; they took the game-worthy parts of one film from each actor and made reliving them fun. The controls are standard FPS, the stealth rewards you with weapon-upgrading XP and often you get to choose how you prefer to play - guns blazing or sneaky.

The only thing I'm peeved about is that you failed to tell anything useful to potential buyers, instead reviewing it on your preconceived opinion about its concept. Oh, and the online did pick up. It's as if only a couple million people owned a Wii U or something.

coreyerb

#42

coreyerb said:

"We need gadgets, car chases, and be required to think before we act."

@SMW: Legends includes all three. There's one car chase, won't ruin the surprise of which. There's also skiing. Gadgets range from a watch radar ping to ID where unseen enemies are around corners, to tranquilizer and distraction darts, which encourage you to think before you act as you'll need to get guards alone and in places where they won't be spotted. Again, stealth is optional in most segments (required in the ones that make sense like you need to maintain your partner's cover) but is rewarded with extra XP to unlock upgrades.

Not sure why the review didn't address these key gameplay elements.

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