At its best moments – as in the early stages of the On Her Majesty's Secret Servicce assault – 007 Legends hits the right notes of action and Bond nostalgia. In its worst moments, it’s not just mediocre but actively inept. There’s always room in a Bond game for gadgets and simple puzzles, and the smartphone and watch-based hacking and unlocking sequences aren’t all that bad.
Where the game demands stealth, however, it’s all badly handled and incredibly frustrating, with instant fail conditions, poor checkpointing and level designs that just aren’t that conducive to sneaking. It says a lot that, where stealth was just an option rather than a necessity, we soon resorted to just blasting everyone until the area was clear – which isn’t really the point of a Bond game.
Downhill all the Way
Don’t even get us started on the skiing mission at the start of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Having failed to see the prompt to press the left-hand trigger to go faster (i.e. the one that brakes throughout the rest of the game) we ended up repeating and failing the same twenty seconds for over half an hour before fluking on the solution. Given that you can be waiting for nearly a minute for the game to reload after dying, this isn’t good news.
Meanwhile, the game’s preferred way to end a level is with a climactic fist-fight against a villain or major stooge. Not only are these ridiculous – is Blofeld or Goldfinger really a credible close-combat match for Bond – they’re not even fun. You simply follow the on-screen prompts, jerk the analogue sticks in the right direction, and hope for the best.
If anything could save 007 Legends from infamy it would be its multiplayer. Well, in four-player split-screen it’s perfectly playable, with persistent experience, unlockable perks and loadouts, and a range of modes in some of which you can play as Iconic Bond characters. But then you could say most of the same things about Goldeneye: Reloaded, which can now be yours for under £15 if you’re desperate for some multiplayer Bond action.
The final nail in the coffin? Activision’s baffling decision to lock the final levels – based on Skyfall – until the movie is released in the US on November 9th. On the one hand, you wouldn’t want to spoil the movie for the sake of more of this, but couldn’t we at least see the unlock happen for the UK release?
While 007 Legends has its moments, this is comfortably the worst Bond game in nearly a decade – and it’s not as if the competition is that stiff. The mix of Craig-era Bond and gadgets with vintage characters and settings just feels wrong, and the graphics and gameplay are horrendously dated. When the nicest thing you can say is that the multiplayer options aren’t bad, you know we’re in trouble. Bond’s license to thrill gamers is once again firmly revoked.