Alex Lynch Reviews: 007 LEGENDS - [Xbox 360]
Developed by EuroCom and Published by Activision, 007 Legends brings together five classic James Bond films (with a sixth additional Skyfall mission as DLC) to celebrate 50 years of Bond films. You can see my verdict after the jump...
Developed by EuroCom and published by Activision, 007 Legends celebrates fifty-years of James Bond films including On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Goldfinger, License To Kill, Moonraker, and Die Another Day with a sixth additional Skyfall mission to be released as downloadable content. The question begged with having recently played through this highly anticipated installment in the James Bond video game franchise is how well it holds up to previous digital adventures such as Bloodstone and Goldeneye Reloaded?
I’ll be honest here; I’m not an entirely huge James Bond fan. I’ve only seen two films and I’ve played only three of the video games from the successful franchise (007 Nightfire, 007 Legends and Goldeneye, their respective remakes included). When 007 Legends was announced, I didn’t believe it would be anything beyond what previous Bond games had already brought us; however the product’s premise of reliving multiple Bond games on one single disc was too good of an opportunity to pass up as I wanted to learn more about the character’s mythology and adventures. However, the game merely taught me no more than each film’s basic plot and proved to be extremely condensed to what they could, and should, have been. I basically felt cheated out of the promised “original, overarching storyline” as each missions were mere flashbacks of Bond’s most pivotal adventures.
The game starts out with one of the scenes from the upcoming movie, Skyfall. 007 is standing on top of a train when he is suddenly struck down by a sniper not so far from his location. Bond then plummets into a nearby river where he is left to die, flashing back to the most “intense encounters” he has experienced. The game fails, however in telling us why these five films are “intense” and selected for a reason as each movie flashback has a very basic plot, each with their own repetitive gameplay mechanics. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service seemed to be the least important story in the game, yet Die Another Day and Moonraker stand out for their engaging storylines. Each “film” in the game all feel as if the writers took a brief synopsis off of their respective IMDB pages and wrote a short script on the information that was given to them. The stories however were successful in bringing both the primary and secondary villains to life, far better than what was expected from an hour or two of gameplay from each. I’m not big on Bond mythology, but 007 Legends taught me about Oddjob, Goldfinger, Pussy Galore, Drax, and fan-favorite Jaws. These characters are given back-stories and involved plots, which Bond, himself, seems to lack in this game.
007 Legends rocks an awesome original soundtrack, but the absence of a mainstream artist creating a track for the main theme is let-down, especially considering they got Nicole Scherzinger for the popular franchise remake. This installment’s opening credits still remain beautiful both visually and musically with a short, but sweet and gorgeously sounding theme by David Arnold, which represents each mission perfectly. Kevin Kiner’s score is great, showcasing a wide variety of “Bond-ish” sounding music throughout the entire game, which definitely helps the experience overall. However, the game’s audio lacks most with its voice cast and direction. I couldn’t help but feel a lot of James Bond’s lines were delivered without direction. Thankfully most of the cast were able to attain credible and believable performances, including Drax who I found to be the greatest villain of the game. The audio department of this video game really stepped it up in areas that they needed most, giving you an excellent Bond experience.
As previously mentioned, the opening cinematic is actually beautiful in design and far better than some of the ones we’ve seen in recent films, visually at least. Yet, the overall look of the game feels very dated and unpolished when you definitely know they could have out-done themselves here, it had plenty of potential to move the franchise forward but the design team took about three steps back. Although the graphic capabilities aren’t up to 2012 standards, some scenes are made to look absolutely gorgeous in motion such as On Her Majesty Secret Service’s brilliant and exhilarating ski chase, or License To Kill’s heart-pounding truck fights. The character models are well done with great textures, yet generic enemies are extremely toned down with an unrealistic vibe that can’t even compare to the important characters’ graphics. The scope needed better graphics for it to truly feel like a cinematic James Bond adventure, instead it gave me the vibe of an outdated Nintendo Wii game.
007 Legends somewhat offers you the classic Bond option of completing the mission by “any means necessary”, whether that’s stealth or guns a’blazing is up to you, but both methods become incredibly frustrating with the lack of unique, or even fun gameplay elements. The stealth isn’t as great as it should be, offering something that we’ve seen before in Bond games with the addition of a radar on Bond’s OMEGA watch, as well as three different types of pen darts. “Shock” darts shoot out an electrical dart which hits its target with a burst of energy, extremely useful for taking out more than one foe. “Distraction” darts send out some sort of notice to the guards to investigate where you just shot the dart, allowing you to strike the foe behind a barrier so his body remains undiscovered when you kill him or use the third dart type, simply titled “Tranquilizer”. The stealth missions are completely rage-inducing at first and you feel like Godzilla trying to sneak around Japan, but after experimenting and playing with them a lot, I’ve learned to get comfortable with them and found that trying different strategies is fun, redeeming it from the almost-broken mechanic. The firefights in this game unfortunately feel far too generic; all you have to do is get from Point A to Point B while killing tons of guards or investigating rooms with Bond’s smartphone in-between. Each level contains a first-person fist fight between Bond and (usually) the villain of the story. You use RT/LT to dodge their attacks, and the left and right thumbsticks to punch up or down, depending on what side they have uncovered. It feels like an extremely lazy and broken boxing game mechanic, and the models move in incredibly awkward positions while getting punched. 007 Legends almost fails at bringing a unique gameplay experience, but after many hours of experimentation, it could get extremely fun.
The game ends abruptly, almost forcing you to wait until the additional Skyfall downloadable content is released to get the most out of the story. There is no final boss battle with Drax at the end of Moonraker (the final mission of the game) and the actual end of the campaign gives you no resolution. The game, however, does indeed have more to it than the less-than-compelling campaign. Fans of classic Bond games have the option of regenerating their health while the character is idle (Modern) or searching for health and armor packs, similar to the more classic Bond games. The MI6 Special Ops missions return from Goldeneye: Reloaded, which add a small amount of replay value to the game. Xbox Live and Split Screen competitive play returns with multiple “Bond-ified” gameplay modes, some of which allow you to choose your own classic Bond character to play as. I believe hardcore fans of the franchise will love the “Extras” section of the game, which contains Production Shots, Concept Art, Character Bios and much more from each of the aforementioned films. Despite those nice things, the game is a forgettable addition to the franchise, Bond deserved better for his 50th (film) birthday.
Hardcore James Bond fans will enjoy and appreciate the extras and story, but newcomers to the franchise would have barely learned anything. 007 Legends unfortunately fails to bring the franchise to a new height, though, so it’d be best to wait for the additional Skyfall mission before purchase to ensure complete story satisfaction.
6 out of 10 stars.
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