Just as it is impossible to write a review without mentioning it, it’s impossible to create a 007 game without having Goldeneye somewhere in mind. It’s understandable as that was by far the most successful Bond game to date and one of the best N64 games during its time. But the simple fact is no Bond game will ever meet those standards, they’ve reached such epic proportions that no matter how hard a developer strives, it will never be the next Goldeneye. That being said, developers continue to try, pumping out one derivative shooter after another. Eurocom can now add their creation, 007 Legends, to that expanding list.
The premise behind Legends is to bring together multiple famous Bond stories into one cohesive experience, though cohesive isn’t necessarily how it turns out. To say that these stories are brought together sloppily is an understatement. The game begins with Bond taking a nasty dive off of a bridge and with that comes flashbacks to Daniel Craig’s yesteryears. Because Daniel Craig was in Goldfinger, right? Moon Raker? No?
That aside, the stories are neat to see retold even if it isn’t set up very well. Spotting familiar faces like Odd Job and Jaws is nice and the writers rehashed the plots well enough to where each story entertains just enough to hold your attention. An issue most should be aware of before purchase is that I completed the story in less than four hours and thirty minutes. I have been known to blaze through games but even if I was, that would still mean Legends’ runtime would only be around five hours. It doesn’t last too long and definitely doesn’t have an intriguing backstory, but the multiple stories in Legends keeps you awake; sadly it doesn’t do too much more than that.
The most recent Bond video game experience I can say I thoroughly enjoyed was Bizarre Creation’s 007 Blood Stone. It didn’t have any revolutionary mechanics but it delivered some good thrills through multiple scripted events. Legends attempts to recreate some of that magic and for most part it works, but it never achieves the level Blood Stone held high by letting you control the sequences in some way and therefore increasing the growing angst and intensity that is rising as the scene goes on. On top of that, the visuals don’t do Legends any particular favors either.
Don’t get me wrong, when you’re standing still, 007 Legends looks pretty good. The frame rate is high, textures aren’t hideous, and there’s just enough color and variety in the environment to pique your interest. But once combat begins, frame rate drops, and with that drop comes some absolutely ugly sequences of the game. These ugly sequences become heightened when you realize things such as a complete lack of variety in the design of the enemies. There seem to be around five different models, with each occasionally changing shirts. As you can guess, the dynamic clothing really livens up the whole experience. To call 007 Legends an ugly game would be a complete lie, it looks good. But the problem is that it can’t hold its framerate up, which means the visual appeal takes a dive alongside it.
One thing that has plagued the first person shooter genre for years is its lack of any kind of innovation upon subsequent releases. Legends doesn’t do much to rectify that but the things that it does make an attempt at installing is nice, though they never really comes to fruition. First and foremost, stealth has always been a staple of the James Bond world, and respectably enough, Eurocom recognized that and attempted to place a stealth aspect in their game. The issue is that the stealth feels mostly uninspired and unfinished. It’s in no way an offensively awful element to the game but it’s a frustrating and boring one due to lack of polish. First person stealth has never been a fun thing to take part in so that’s arguably the first frustration in the game but from there on it becomes more of a bore to fly through other than an actual exciting gameplay mechanic. The worst parts are by far are the sections that force you to be stealthy. The stealth isn’t the issue here, though, as it’s the load times that kill these sections. There were multiple times where the load times would border one minute and even go up to one and a half. It doesn’t seem that bad but once you have to experience it over and over, it begins to take away any kind of pace the game is setting up. From videos I’ve watched, this issue seems to only be prevalent on the PS3 version.
Obviously, when you’re creating a shooter, you must make the actual combat strong enough to support a whole game and Eurocom made strides to do that by installing an upgrade system that can be applied to all weapons. The problems are that these upgrades are mostly limited to simple choices such as iron sights or red dot sight. That doesn’t completely negate the customization, it’s nice to have, but it could have been so much better. That customization may not have helped though as the gunplay itself is mediocre at best. Accuracy issues are prevalent in every weapon used and never ceased to frustrate me whether I was in an open space or hiding behind cover. The saddest thing is that I see the exciting combat in my sights, 007 Legends just cannot reach out for it.
Next up was the installation of a cover system that has existed before but never exactly “worked.” The idea is to duck behind a box, wall, etc. and from there you can aim and press up on the left stick to pop your head up and pick off enemies. The idea of using the left stick obviously messes up precise aiming as Mr. Craig likes to slide to the left or right whenever you want to pop your head out. Thankfully, the cover system can quickly become irrelevant if you wish as the difficulty is never too grueling. On a side note, it’s a small element but Legends has a melee combat system comprised of multiple quick time events. This system is usually their idea for “boss fights” and although it doesn’t provide any kind of real challenge or innovation, it’s a nice change of pace and is definitely better than having a strong enemy just be a bullet sponge until he collapses over into a boneless heap.
Because 007 Legends is a first person shooter, that means it must have its own little multiplayer experience. This multiplayer experience is harmless in every way and can even bring about some excitement. Eurocom pumped multiple varied game modes into Legends’ multiplayer including fan favorites like Golden Gun. This would all work out perfectly if the combat itself was of higher quality. This issue is not prevalent in the recent Goldeneye remake (Also developed by Eurocom), however, so if you need your multiplayer fix, head that way.
007 Legends is meant to be pure fan service and visual eye candy to those who have been dying for remakes of the older Bond films. It’s far from a remake but it does recapture some of the magic those movies produced. Sadly, that magic is short lived as the bland and frustrating gameplay quickly takes over and begins to sour the whole experience. Like I mentioned previously, I can see the decent 007 game I’m craving in the distance, and it seemed like Eurocom was close to grabbing it after their Goldeneye remake. But instead, they’ve only taken steps backwards. Where shall they go from here?
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