There have been as many Bond games as there have films. There have been as many developers for those games as there have been Bond actors. From the sublime in Goldeneye to the below average Nightfire. There hasn’t exactly been a dreadful game, but fans of the films set the bar high when it comes to the games.
In 007 Legends, rather than creating a tie in to the upcoming Skyfall the team at Eurocom have gone for a homage to previous films. Much like their earlier remake of Goldeneye, this game updates the licences from not only that, but also Licence to Kill, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Die Another Day and Moonraker. There is also a taster for the upcoming Skyfall as an added bonus.
At first glance 007 Legends appears to be another simple first person affair, as you take Bond through a series of missions based on the aforementioned films. Yet scrape a little below the surface and you’ll find effort has been made to create a game that plays more like you’d expect from a James Bond inspired affair, rather than a simple Call Of Duty clone.
Despite being played in first person, there is more than just gun-play involved. Eurocom have added an element of stealth to the game. Immediately making Bond feel more like a spy than a gun blazing commando. Bond has the option of navigating through levels unseen by using cover and timing to get past the henchmen dotted around.
This is done by using an awareness system similar to that seen in Metal Gear Solid and other such stealth games. Enemies will generally have three reactions to your presence. A white marker will show that they are completely unaware of Bond, yellow indicated they are suspicious of something and red means they have seen you and will start to attack and call in reinforcements.
It’s a system that seems to work well, however there are some fundamental issues that make it a bit counter intuitive. The biggest issue is with dead bodies, kill a henchman and his body will remain in place and if seen an alarm will be raised. Yet there is no option to move the body, which means you either need to time your shots perfectly so they fall into the shadows, or accept that you will need to engage the enemy no matter what. This can see the all guns blazing approach as the best option for many scenarios, as even if you get through a portion of the enemies, they be engaging you later in the level anyway, so may as well dispatch of them early on. It really is a shame that a single oversight has ruined the stealth element somewhat, as the alert system itself works well and can make for some tense moments.
When you do get end up in a fire fight, the action ranges from immensely satisfying to downright frustrating. Enemies are clever and will attempt to draw your attention while trying to gain a better position to take you down, which does make each battle tense and enjoyable. Yet unless you really fiddle with your TV settings, it can be a chore to actually pick the enemy out of the background, which is highly annoying and at times see you wasting some bullets. Overall though it steps just the right side of the line between fun and annoying.
There are some slightly scripted events mixed in with the gameplay too, there generally come as boss fights. Instead of the usual stealth and gunfight that makes up the main of the game, this is more of a one on one fisticuffs type of action. It feels like an odd addition, as it isn’t overly rare, but not frequent enough to be considered a vital part of the gameplay. It generally takes you out of the overall feel of the game with no apparent reason for being included.
Being a James Bond game, there are gadgets, lots of gadgets. Whether that be using James’ smart phone to hack a terminal, or his watch that acts as a sonar for scoping out enemies, as well as the laser (what Bond game would be complete with out a watch that shoots a laser?), or dart guns, as well as others. On the whole the gadgets are very useful, but having some act as mini-games feels like it takes away from the action a little. Hacking a terminal for example sees you needing to keep the right pressure on the triggers to match a display on the phone, it felt unnecessary more than anything.
Taking aspects from the various films mentioned earlier, keeps the pace of the game moving along nicely. Each film doesn’t outstay its welcome either, as you find starting to get tired of one, the next one rolls up nicely. Each starts of with a typical cut-scene to set up the plot, with said cut scene being just the right amount of length to whet your appetite for what is coming up next. Of the films on offer, the best set of levels comes from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the pacing of that set of levels just seems to fit a little better than the others.
007 Legends is built on the engine used to remake Goldeneye and does look good on the whole. It’s not in the same league as a Battlefield 3 or Call of Duty in terms of polish, but it does a job. Explosion affects are done well and the various locales are really well modelled. Characters too aren’t too bad looking, but they do have the odd dead soulless eyes syndrome that many games seem to have.
007 Legends is a game aimed squarely at fans, it has nods to the films and aficionados will be able to pick out the locations and characters with ease. It is far from a must own title for everyone, but on the whole it holds up as a solid title that is worth putting some time in to.