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Nothing Suave About 007 Legends

  • Kevin Reitz Contributing Writer
  • 2012 7 Nov
Nothing Suave About <i>007 Legends</i>

In 1997 a legend was born. 007 GoldenEye was a revolutionary first-person shooter that, in my opinion, changed the trajectory of console gaming. With fantastic missions and a great multiplayer, split screen experience (complete with "paintball mode", making it youth group friendly), GoldenEye quickly became the third best selling game on that N64 console (right behind Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart).  

Since that time, there have been a number of attempts to continue the success found in the original, but none of them really did much to recapture it. However, recently fans of the original game were treated to a "reimagined" edition; GoldenEye 007, was released in 2010 for the Wii, and a remastered version of that game followed a year later for the Xbox 360 and PS3. Met by positive reviews, it seems that James Bond has regained some of his mojo and in October, just prior to the release of the new Skyfall film (and to commemorate the 50th anniversary of James Bond), 007 Legends was released.  

Rather than focus on a single film, 007 Legends takes 6 films and attempts to combine them into a single game. In addition to Skyfall, there are missions based on Goldfinger, License to Kill, Die Another Day, On Her Magesty's Secret Service and Moonraker. Of course Daniel Craig did not play Mr. Bond in those older films, but his likeness and voice acting are employed throughout all of the missions.

007 Legends begins with a cinematic that ends with Mr. Bond falling from a bridge, into a river. Obviously meant to make us wonder what becomes of his fate, we're ushered back in time (flashback style) to the bedroom scene in Goldfinger, with the gold painted body of a woman. Fortunately they manage to keep the scene rated PG-13 by making it obvious that she is at least wearing underwear, or possibly a bikini. This is also your first view of what the game looks like and frankly, I was very disappointed in the quality of the graphics.

From here, you will get a brief game-play tutorial which walks you through the functionality of your smart phone and wrist watch. If you are a Bond fan, you will simply need to suspend your disbelief because the game will go completely off the rails for you, we're obviously not in 1964 anymore. The controls here can be a bit confusing as you have to switch between weapon, watch and phone (you also eventually get a pen) with the D-Pad and then cycle between their features (2-3 different options for each) with a different button. Doing all of this on the fly can lead to some serious frustration.

As a spy, a lot of what James Bond is meant to do should be done in secret, and the game makes it clear when stealth is of upmost importance. However, the game does not do a very good job of helping you stay hidden. Controls for silent take downs are confusing, there doesn't appear to be any clear way to move a body out of the line-of-site of other enemies (and other enemies will sound an alert if they stumble across a body), and your options for silent weapons are limited to your silenced PPK which has severely limited ammo (I have yet to find extra PPK ammo lying around).  Needless to say, I have yet to achieve any secondary objective that requires me to go unnoticed.

Fortunately, when stealth fails the game does a pretty good job of turning into an action packed first-person shooter. In my experience, this is where I found the most enjoyment and felt the most nostalgic toward the original GoldenEye. In "normal" difficulty mode, if you manage to get your crosshairs on an enemy, you'll get a "lock" which makes targeting much easier than most first-person games. In fact, this lock will even automatically track for you as the target moves across the screen. This should help alleviate frustrations that many gamers have with this type of perspective. However, I can help but wonder how much better this game would be if it were a third-person game like the PS3's Uncharted series.

While the action is fun, and there is a broad range of weapons to choose from, it doesn't end there. There are actually experience points that can be gained and used to purchase upgrades to weapons as well as enhance certain abilities. However, the catch is that they can only be installed via upgrade boxes placed in the environment, and there never seems to be one when you need it. While it adds a bit of a role-playing element to the game,  it also adds a layer of complexity that some players may not be interested in.

I found the game overall to be fun, especially in the height of action, but there are two extremely frustrating aspects which feed off each other to turn the game into an excruciating experience.  First, the checkpoints are spread out very far apart. If you die, you must go all the way back to the last check point, depending on the circumstances, you may have to play through 15-20 minutes (or more) over again. Second, while that's frustrating enough, if you happen to have had a cut-scene at that checkpoint (or a tutorial on how to do something new)… you have to watch the whole thing again… and if you die again… well, don't get me started. This game threw me into "rage quit" mode a whole lot more often than this type of game should.

Overall, 007 Legends is a fun experience but it's hardly worth picking up new right now. Even the most ardent James Bond fan will feel like they're missing out on something that could have been awesome in some different hands. First-person shooter fans can certainly do much better, especially considering the recent release of Halo 4. Give this one a "pass", and if you really want to play it simply wait a few weeks and find a used copy.

Violence, Language and Sexuality: Approach the game like one of the films. It's not gory, but there are bursts of red when you hit; the language is not graphic but should be approached with caution; and it's a James Bond game so there are women and the accompanying themes.

*This Review First Published 11/7/2012