For a while, it seemed like Electronic Arts’ mismanagement of the Bond video game franchise could never be worsted. While 2010’s James Bond 007: Bloodstone and 2008’s Quantum of Solace were hardly masterworks, they weren’t in the same league of awfulness as 2004’s GoldenEye: Rogue Agent or 2005’s From Russia with Love, and 2010’s Wii hit, Goldeneye 007 was reasonably good, even if the subsequent Reloaded PS3 and Xbox 360 ‘HD remaster’ exposed its weaknesses. However, it now looks like we were just being lulled into a false sense of security. To complement what’s reportedly one of the best Bond movies ever, we now have one of the worse Bond games. Whatever epithet you throw at 007 Legends – short, dated, unimaginative, bizarre, disrespectful, inept, frustrating – it’s unlikely to be a good one.
Bond Memory Lane
The premise itself has some promise. With the new film, Skyfall, used as a framework, 007 Legends takes you back on a tour of some of Bond’s greatest moments. OK, maybe not the greatest moments. With one film from each Bond we get Goldfinger instead of You Only Live Twice, Moonraker instead of The Spy Who Loved Me and Die Another Day instead of Tomorrow Never Dies, but there’s no denying that Blofeld’s mountain base from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is an iconic setting, or that License to Kill is the better choice of the two Dalton movies.
We get a couple of levels based on each movie, though with a rather Thunderbird-like Daniel Craig now featuring in the main role, and with smartphones and modern technology making for some quite peculiar juxtapositions against the sixties décor and fashions in the older segments. Doubtless there are licensing issues in getting the likenesses of the original Bonds, but the new mix doesn’t really work.
Dated Graphics and Gameplay
But then anachronism isn’t only an issue for the presentation. 007 Legends is primarily an FPS game, but it doesn’t look or feel like a modern shooter.
Graphically, it’s a close match for Perfect Dark Zero and other early games of the HD era – and at times it looks older than that. Its muddy textures, blocky environments and low-quality lighting and surface effects all make it look like a Wii game that has been upscaled for the PS3. And while the gameplay isn’t totally that of a vanilla FPS, it’s all very reminiscent of a mid-naughties Call of Duty.
Enemy AI is dull and unsophisticated, the turret and driving sequences are just as throwaway, and the mission design is utterly uninspired. The result is a tie-in for a 2012 film featuring characters and settings from 1964 to 2002 with graphics and gameplay from 2005. It’s no wonder that it never quite gels.