The efforts to effectively ‘reboot’ the events of Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Licence to Kill, Die Another Day and Moonraker from the perspective of current 007 Daniel Craig are harmless enough, if not somewhat jarring for film aficionados. Bond scans offices for fingerprints with a Sony Xperia smartphone, drives modern-day Aston Martins and storms ‘1960s’ Fort Knox with up-to-date Uzis.
If you think that such anachronism (and product placement) would result in a confusing portrayal of a much-loved, classic spy franchise (Daniel Craig decides to meet Pussy Galore for the first time whilst on an infiltration mission in Goldfinger’s Swedish hideout, and doesn’t even address himself properly - “I’m James Bond”) then you should check out the gameplay itself.
There are brief moments where you’ll be doing other things too. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has a nice skiing level, and the Jeep chase from Licence to Kill can be thrilling in its own way - but more often than not you’ll be engaged in QTE punch-ups with awkwardly-animated bosses such as Sanchez and Oddjob.
While you might feel more like Soap MacTavish than James Bond when rushing Fort Knox (“Watch out for that minigun, James!”), the stealth elements initially offer a refreshing illusion of tactical espionage. Unfortunately, a stealth section often turns into a shootout thanks to some unforgiving and annoyingly difficult enemy placement.
These enemies have some kind of ‘007 Sense’ - they’re always homing in on your general direction if they’re suspicious that something is wrong. Always. Even if you knock out a guy and run around the corner before the downed chap is spotted, that bad guy will come walking straight for you.
In general, the difficulty curve in 007 Legends is all over the shop. You might struggle with an opening section of a mission, only to breeze through the rest of it. And such areas are frustrating as a result of level or HUD design - it’s not always obvious what to do until you’ve died five times and spent an age looking at the creakingly long loading screens.
Bond has access to several gadgets that aim to alleviate your trials, but they can be more trouble than they’re worth. A biro pen that shoots stun, shock and distraction darts is only as useful as its pitiful range, meaning you’re mostly hiding round corners and using the stun option to neutralise threats.
This is where 007 Legends stands up - there’s a lot of content to unlock and enjoy. Each mission has a completion percentage, which is raised by fulfilling multiple conditions. Primary objectives, optional secondary objectives, level trials (made up of how stealthy and accurate you are), bonus targets and a large amount of collectables are some of the things you can accomplish when you’re playing at your best.
And that’s the annoying thing. There’s nothing wrong with 007 Legends on a technical level. The graphics are nice enough, the sound direction is glorious and the control mechanics are rock solid. It’s just flawed from a design perspective - frustrating, unhelpful and rather pedestrian.
The same is true for the multiplayer mode. It’s a perfectly playable experience, with the introduction of ranks and feature unlocks that invites you to play for a long time. But rarely do you feel the need to do so - the initial roster of weapons are poorly balanced, and the cavernous maps on offer aren’t great if you’re lumped in a deathmatch with a small number of players.
+ Great controls
+ Good presentation
+ Lots of depth
- Frustrating level design
- Bizarre difficulty curves
- Call of Duty in my James Bond?
SPOnG Score: 6/10
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Closing date:30 Jun 2013