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007 Legends was developed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 007 film franchise. It would also be the final game developed by Eurocom before they shut down for good. Ultimately, the game wasn’t very well received and it may have been doomed from the start. Developed by Eurocom and published by Activision, 007 Legends was released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in October 2012. It was released for PC the following November and Wii U that December. I originally played and beat this on Wii U back around the time it came out but for this review, I played the PlayStation 3 version. 007 Legends is a game that lets you play through missions from the different eras of Bond actors. Honestly, I think that’s a neat concept but the ultimate question is how is it implemented?
You play as James Bond and the story opens with the chase sequence depicted in Skyfall. Bond and Patrice are fighting on top of the train and Eve accidentally shoots Bond who then falls into the river below and I guess you could say Bond sees his life flash before his eyes. The flashbacks being the various missions which are taken from the films Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Moonraker, License to Kill, Die Another Day, and I know there was a mission for Skyfall because I played through it on Wii U but I don’t think it’s available anymore, at least on the PlayStation Store. I also remember it sucking pretty bad compared to the others. Anyway, you’ll blast through the Gold Depository to stop Goldfinger from irradiating all the gold, infiltrate Blofeld’s mountaintop lair, take down the Mexican drug lord known as Franz Sanchez, stop Gustav Graves from weaponizing the ICARUS, and prevent Hugo Drax from destroying the Earth. I can’t say how accurate the events in the game are to the films since I’ve never seen any of these films but considering the game uses Daniel Craig’s likeness as Bond, obviously some things are changed. I assume the events in the game are just condensed versions of what actually took place in the movies. Regardless, the game clearly assumes the player has seen these films since the game just jumps from one mission to another without any context. I can let it slide because of the whole flashback concept and I kind of understand what the developers were trying to do. I believe 007 Legends is supposed to be a celebration of the film series. Although, I’m not sure why the developers chose these films in particular but what I can say is they make for excellent exotic locations which I think is one of the game’s highlights. The voice acting is interesting. The developers used Daniel Craig’s likeness for Bond but not his voice and the performance for Bond fluctuates. In some sequences, the performance is alright and then there’s other sequences where it’s not so great. Looking at the cast list, they actually got some of the actors from the films to reprise their roles including Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier and Michael Lonsdale as Hugo Drax. It’s obvious the game is designed to let players experience the different Bond eras and whether you enjoy the actual plot or not will probably depend on if you’ve seen and/or enjoyed the films.
007 Legends comes with three difficulty modes and you have the option to play with regenerating health or the classic style where you need to find health packs and body armor in the environments. You can walk, run, sprint, crouch, jump, perform a melee attack, aim down the sights of weapons, and take cover behind objects. You can pop up from cover when aiming and much of the gameplay resembles that of GoldenEye 007: Reloaded. This time around there’s an XP system in place. You earn XP by completing various challenges like killing a certain number of enemies with specific weapons, using weapons with specific attachments, being stealthy, being accurate with your shots, and basically doing anything. Your accumulated XP acts as currency which can be spent on upgrades at the Upgrade Shop accessed from the MI6 Crates scattered throughout the environments. You can purchase different firing modes for each weapon type, laser sights, scopes, compensators, silencers, a grenade launcher attachment, and you can also purchase character upgrades like increased resistance, faster reload speed, and other stuff to make things more convenient or easier. The MI6 crates is also where you can equip your weapons with the purchased items. I enjoy the XP system although it seems very barebones and you could probably get through the game relatively easily without upgrading anything. The smartphone makes a return as your primary gadget device. You’ll use it to take pictures but you’ll also use it to scan for fingerprints and hack devices. In addition to the phone, you’ll be provided a watch that can fire a laser at acoustic devices to distract enemies and a dart pen thing which can fire tranquilizer, shock, and distraction darts. Sometimes you’ll be provided night vision goggles to see better in dark areas.
Just like in the GoldenEye remake, many missions provide two ways to approach situations. You can either sneak or go in all guns blazing. I think shooting your way through areas is more enjoyable but stealth is an option and this time around it’s more involved. You’ll have to hide in the shadows to stay hidden, you can distract enemies, and you can take out enemies silently via melee but dead bodies will remain so you need to think about where you take them out. If enemies are suspicious, they will begin to search for you. You need to watch out for sentry guns in certain areas and cameras may be scattered around that can detect you. You can either avoid them, destroy them, or find and push the buttons to disable them. Whether you approach areas quietly or go in all guns blazing, taking cover is essential and if you make your presence known, you usually have to deal with a ton of enemies running around everywhere. There are what I’ll call “vehicle missions” in the game. You’ll ride on skiis in the Swiss Alps, fend off enemies and enemy helicopters, and this entire segment should be on rails. The controls feel convoluted making it hard to shoot, accelerate, dodge obstacles, and aim all at the same time. Luckily, this segment isn’t very long. It doesn’t help that the punishment for failure or death isn’t just restarting from the last checkpoint which are thankfully frequent but sitting through the long load times. Later in the game you’ll drive a vehicle and have to dodge enemy rockets. It’s actually not very exciting. The most enjoyable driving sequence has to be in the Die Another Day mission where you’re driving on ice, avoiding projectiles and ICARUS beams, before firing rockets at an enemy vehicle. I say it’s the most enjoyable but that’s not saying much. The game holds your hand through the entire mission and tells you exactly what to do, when you need to do it, and it’s very short.
Each mission has a set of primary objectives you must complete but you are provided additional objectives which are optional. You’ll have to infiltrate areas, plant mines, gather intelligence, and crack safes, among other things, and a few areas force you to be stealthy which kind of sucks. As much as I enjoy the different exotic locations, they are just a disguise to hide the fact that all the missions are very similar in their design. They all follow the same exact formula. Infiltrate an area, you may have to hack something or do something specific, make your way to the villain’s office, gather all the intelligence you can in said office, then engage the villain. These elements are always a guarantee. You’ll have to engage villains and sometimes standard enemies in fights that consist of a bizarre melee system that is sometimes mixed with traditional quick-time events. All of these fights play out exactly the same. You’ll be face-to-face with the enemy and need to push the sticks in the appropriate directions when the game tells you to. Sometimes the villain will grab a melee weapon at which point you have to press a different set of buttons when prompted to dodge their attacks and disarm them. These fights are boring and anticlimactic.
Bond can carry three weapons and swap them out with others found throughout the environments or from supply crates and enemies will drop weapons and ammo when killed. And the weapons you acquire can come with attachments which can be removed at MI6 crates with the exception of Bond’s P99 that comes with a silencer that can be attached and detached at any time. The gunplay feels a bit more satisfying than it did in the GoldenEye remake. It still feels like Call of Duty but the added gore effects are a nice touch and the weapons have a decent sense of weight. With aim assist on, you’ll snap to enemies when aiming down sights and the accuracy of the snap can be improved with an upgrade. Many of the weapons from the previous game make a return along with some new ones and you will be exposed to different weapons in each mission. There’s different types of pistols, submachine guns, assault rifles, sniper rifles, and shotguns. And when you purchase upgrades for one of these weapon types, you can apply them to any weapon associated with the type. You can get your hands on a rocket launcher, you can throw grenades, and during the Moonraker mission, you can acquire laser weapons. I do like the arsenal and the Upgrade Shop adds a neat customization element. As I said before, I don’t think you really need the upgrades to beat the game but they are cool and feel more like a novelty. With the way the XP system works, it encourages you to try different weapons and upgrades. It also encourages you to try different approaches since you’re rewarded with XP for being stealthy or trigger-happy.
The environments are easily one of the best things about 007 Legends. Even if the game is a terrible representation of the films, the locations are fantastic. You’ll fire a minigun from a helicopter to blow away enemies and anti-air defenses on a snowy mountaintop. You’ll accompany Felix Leiter in the assault on the Gold Depository at Fort Knox. And you’ll navigate and float around a space station in an effort to save the world from destruction. This is a very action-packed game and I just find getting into hectic firefights in exotic locations to be enjoyable. If you decide to approach battles all guns blazing, you’ll be in for a very action-oriented experience with plenty of things to shoot and weapons to try. As expected, explosive objects like barrels are scattered all over the environments and can be blown up to kill nearby enemies. The enemies themselves display the same basic behavior as the enemies in the GoldenEye remake. They run around, get behind cover, shoot at you, throw grenades, snipe you, and sometimes advance on your position. They’ll also do stupid stuff like running out into the open when under fire but for the most part the enemy AI is pretty standard for a shooter like this.
There are collectibles in the form of Intel littered throughout the environments. Collecting Intel unlocks information you can read about the characters, villains, and organizations from each film. There’s also bonus targets to find and shoot in each mission. 007 Legends comes with an extra game mode called Challenges which is very similar to the MI6 Ops mode in GoldenEye 007: Reloaded. The Challenges are various game types set in different maps. The game types include Escape, Infiltration, Defense, and Assault, and sadly, the game types are tied to specific maps. You cannot mix and match them. You can earn stars in each Challenge based on your performance and only one Challenge is available to you at the start. As you complete Challenges, you’ll unlock others. Modifiers allow you to tweak the Challenges to your liking and the harder you make things, the higher the difficulty rating will be and the better chance you have at a higher score and more stars. Also, the faster you complete a Challenge, the higher your score. You can adjust the player health, decide if you want regenerating health or not, you can change enemy health, enemy aggressiveness, enemy accuracy, and enable or disable a time limit. There’s some other settings you can configure and this mode does have a lot of replay value mainly due to the modifiers and scoring system. And you can download other players’ custom modifiers from the leaderboard and attempt to beat their score.
The game types are split into two categories – MI6 and Legends. The Legends challenges are somewhat interesting because you get to play as one of the film characters like villains and Bond girls. In Escape, you’ll start with no weapons or gadgets and must escape the area. You’ll have to acquire weapons from enemies or find them in the environments. The game kind of encourages you to sneak but if you’re detected, enemies will constantly be up your ass. Also, ammo is in short supply so you may find yourself switching weapons often, making sure every shot counts, and you should always be moving. Defense will require you to defend something. For example; in one challenge you’ll have to activate and defend three consoles and in another you’ll have to move and defend a bomb. Infiltration is a stealth challenge where you have to eliminate targets and if you’re detected, they’ll try to escape. However, you can still try to kill them before they get away. You just have to be quick. Then there’s Assault. In these challenges, you just need to fight your way through areas and eliminate all of the enemies. The Challenges are fun and the modifiers can make things interesting. Most of the challenges are action-packed scenarios with the exception of Infiltration and they’re all set in maps based on locations seen in the campaign.
Visually, I would say 007 Legends looks a little better than GoldenEye 007: Reloaded. The texture work is pretty good, some of the character models are accurate to their film counterparts, some are not and it’s obvious they redesigned Jinx who certainly does not look like Halle Berry, and the various exotic locations keep the visual presentation interesting. I like the little details like the muzzle flashes, the particles that fly through the air from explosions or objects being hit with gunfire, and the blood puffs that appear when your shots hit enemies help to make the gunplay feel satisfying. Having the dead bodies remain on the ground is nice because you can always look over an area and witness the result of your carnage. The death animations are still a bit on the repetitive side like in the last game but with the all action going on, I didn’t notice it as much. The music contains a lot of cinematic-sounding tunes along with the iconic 007 songs and the sound effects are a slight improvement compared to what we heard in the previous game. Many weapons and explosions still sound a tad weak but do have a bit more punch to them. On the technical side, the frame rate is up and down constantly. When the action gets really intense, the drops are frequent. I also saw two characters get stuck in each other resulting in them glitching and the load times are ridiculously long. I should mention I played the game using the disc.
007 Legends has problems but to say I didn’t have fun with this would be a lie. The game received a lot of unwarranted hate in my opinion. Some complaints are certainly valid but to say this is one of the worst first-person shooters of all time or even that generation is laughable. Sadly, Eurocom clearly learned very little from their previous effort. They recycled every mechanic and just added more stuff. If you remove the XP system and upgrades, the gameplay is basically the same as what we saw in the GoldenEye remake. They added a few more gadgets, threw in some poorly designed vehicle sequences, and lessened the amount of traditional quick-time events. However, they clearly didn’t know how to design boss encounters and implemented this very odd melee combat system that’s not very enjoyable. But, ultimately, I like the game. It may be just another Call of Duty title with a 007 coat of paint but I do enjoy Call of Duty’s gunplay. The XP system and upgrades are neat but very basic. As basic as it is, I will admit the weapon customization made me want to buy everything and try different combinations of weapons and upgrades. And the best aspect of the game is easily the locations which are all varied, interesting, and help cover up the very repetitive mission design.
I would recommend 007 Legends to fans of first-person shooters. The game isn’t great but it’s really not as bad as people make it out to be. I think it’s just as average as the GoldenEye remake but with more satisfying gunplay, making it a bit more enjoyable as a whole. But much like the GoldenEye remake, this was an obvious attempt to cash-in on the Call of Duty popularity by basically copying and pasting elements from that series. 007 Legends is a game that doesn’t try anything new. It’s just your typical shooter. With that said, this really isn’t that bad gameplay-wise. There’s definitely some odd design choices, it’s got some technical issues, and there’s nothing here you probably haven’t seen before in other shooters but in the end, I found it fun to play. Let’s look at the positives, it’s full of action-packed firefights, you can get your hands on a good variety of weapons including laser weapons, you can blow shit up, and as of this review you can find the game for console for pretty cheap. If this was selling for full retail price, I wouldn’t recommend it. But for under ten dollars? Give it a shot.