Eurocom's developers are self-professed fans of James Bond, and it really shows. After piquing everyone’s curiosity with an interesting remake of classic video game Goldeneye, the British studio is applying its knowledge and experience to modernise the stories of five other films in the spy franchise. Ironically, you’ll also need to be a huge fan of Bond - and have nerves like an MI5 agent - to truly appreciate 007 Legends.
The efforts to effectively ‘reboot’ the events of Goldfinger
, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
, Licence to Kill
, Die Another Day
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.
The action frequently flits between two distinct types - Call of Duty
-style run-and-gun shootouts, and slow-paced stealth sections. Not quite the espionage elegance we’ve come to expect, following the varied objectives found in Goldeneye
- be it Rare’s 1997 classic or Eurocom’s own recent reinterpretation.
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.
Unless you’re dealing with critical ‘get spotted and fail’ sequences, there is seldom a logical way for you to pass through such areas undetected. One stage even offers you the chance to scope your surroundings from a high vantage point - a pointless endeavour, after noticing that there are guards covering practically every line of sight. And as most areas are stationed with multiple enemies, you can’t resort to knocking them out one by one when conventional methods prove unsuccessful.
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.
The game is unforgiving even on medium difficult levels - and while each film is split into a couple of chapters, they could have been split up some more. By and large, each level will take a first-timer around 30-45 minutes to complete. There are moments in the middle of almost every mission that would have made great cliffhangers - instead, these relentlessly long stages result in a fair amount of brainache.
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.
The wristwatch can help you detect all enemies in an area - which is handy. It also comes with a laser that can fry speaker boxes and knacker security cameras - which is redundant, because it seems to do more to alert enemies to your presence than it does to distract them. Back in the land of the helpful, the aforementioned smartphone can scan for fingerprints, hack electronic devices and take photos of evidence, and various attachments can be equipped to Bond’s weapons that can aid you in your mission.
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.
There are also a number of weapon and gadget-based XP challenges to complete, and if you want to feel particularly invincible you can unlock perks that can give Bond more health, faster reload capability and a higher fire rate. When you start to explore the wealth of unlockables and options available to you, it’s clear that Eurocom has put some effort into the framework of this game.
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.
Ultimately, 007 Legends
will contain a Licence to Thrill for only the most die-hard and open-minded of Bond fans out there. For others, while it can be rather enjoyable at times, the enemy and objective design will prove to be far too frustrating to stick with. A lost opportunity.
Lots of depth
Frustrating level design
Bizarre difficulty curves
- Call of Duty
in my James Bond?
SPOnG Score: 6/10