007 Legends feels stirred but not shaken. If you get the reference, then you know the results aren’t likely good.
Many years ago, I was introduced to an author named Harry Turtledove, specfically his book “Guns of the South.” The story was a mix of history and science-fiction. It took place in an alternative America during the Civil War, where the South acquires future weaponry, AK-47s, in an attempt to alter the outcome of war. When I started playing 007 Legends, this book, and the whole idea of an alternative history came to mind.
007 Legends is a bit of a misleading title. I knew little about this game, prior to the review, but I did know that this year marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond, and Daniel Craig is back as Bond in next month’s Bond movie release “Skyfall.” I was sure that this was going to be a game, specifically with the James Bond aficionado in mind. Where you would play as Bond in a multitude of different likenesses throughout the 20+ films. You don’t… well, not exactly. This is where the alternative history concept comes in.
Whether or not you’re familiar with older James Bond films, before Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig you’ll likely recognize some of the classic villains featured from many classic Bond films. The steel-toothed Jaws, who can chew threw cables with his teeth, and Oddjob with his razor sharp bowler hat, capable of decapitating a victim when thrown like a Frisbee.
You’ll encounter a ton of Bond villains, and familiar Bond characters, but there is one static element to this whole series, and that is James Bond himself.
You won’t play as Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, or Pierce Brosnan. You’ll instead be playing as “Daniel Craig as James Bond.” Yeah. But that’s not even the most interesting part. While Daniel Craig is credited as James Bond, you’ll only get his likeness and not his voice.
Instead, “Daniel Craig as James Bond” is really “Daniel Craig’s Likeness as James Bond but voice by Timothy Watson.” It’s not really that distracting or noticeable that Daniel Crag isn’t provide the voice, but it felt very odd when I discovered that. Timothy Watson is no amateur when it comes to video game voice work. He has worked on a lot of familiar titles like Dragon Age II, Killzone 3, as well as many of the other James Bond video games. He does a decent job as Craig’s Bond.
007 Legends is a strange re-imagining of the James Bond universe where all of the villains and situations are tied into one overarching storyline, which itself ties into the new Skyfall movie. It’s all very strange, especially if you’re a Bond purist.
There was also a bit of a playful charm and flirtiness in the first 20 Bond films, that you don’t really see in the grimmer, more serious Daniel Craig films. However in 007 Legends, the characters are all a bit more serious, which creates a bit of a weird feeling when playing through the game. Think of the Adam West Batman taken straight from the campy 60s series, and put in today’s Christopher Nolan style Batman. It’s a weird, by-the-book seriousness that didn’t feel right. As the Nolan’s Joker would say, “Why so serious?”
The gameplay in 007 Legends is also all over the place. It’s first and foremost a first-person shooter, just like the previous Bond games.
I will start off with a positive. One of the cool features when beginning the single-player campaign, is that you can choose to play it in an old or new style. The old style being that health is only replenished using items. The new style being the regenerative health found in nearly all first-person shooters. I thought that was a cool nod to the old-school Golden-Eye fans from N64 era! Nice touch!
Where 007 Legends falls short in gameplay is practically everywhere else. Not only is it a first-person shooter, but there is an odd mix of other types of genres mixed-in, specifically stealth. It honestly doesn’t work all that well. There is a long video tutorial that explains everything, but in implementation it doesn’t seem to be that complicated.
Guards on patrol won’t always immediately spot you. Rather, you’ll be presented with a visual indicator, pointing in the direction of nearby bad guys. If the indicator is white, you can move in for a melee strike and put them down. If indicator turns yellow, that means you’re in danger of being spotted.
I was able to move through areas, sneaking up on enemies and karate chopping them to death, to an absurd I’m-going-to-karate-chop-my-way-through-this-level degree. Sometimes I was in a position where I was sure they’s see me in their periphery, and they still didn’t notice. Maybe these guys have a really bad case of tunnel vision when they’re standing still. Who knows?
Visually, the game is also a bit inconsistent. At times it’s beautifully striking, where textures have a real impressive quality to them. You can almost feel the sleekness of a shiny surface, and then moments later they’re flat and boring. I will give them credit for the character models for the various villains and for James Bond himself, which I thought were all quite good. If you’re not going to get all of the original cast’s actors back to provide voices, as least the likenesses are pretty spot-on!
007 Legends has a multiplayer mode. I’m not the biggest competitive gamer, and don’t often play first-person shooters in multiplayer mode until I finish the single-player game. I didn’t find the multiplayer to be bad or overly-impressive.
I didn’t think it was a horrible game, but I find it very hard to recommend this game. In just a matter of weeks you’ll be playing Halo 4 and Black Ops 2, two games that, are while unproven, are undeniable popular. When it comes to spending your $60, should you spend it now on 007 Legends or wait for Halo 4 of Black Ops 2. Personally, I’d wait.
007 Legends is an interesting concept where you assume the role of Daniel Craig’s likeness of James Bond, while encountering classic Bond villains, throughout the 50 years of Bond films.
Unfortunately, the gameplay is rather bland and generic. With a slew of highly anticipated games coming out over the next few weeks, it’s really hard to recommend 007 Legends over titles first-person shooters like Halo 4 and Black Ops 2. I think that at a price-point of $60, 007 Legends isn’t worth it. At a budget price, it’s a better deal, but I’d only recommend it to James Bond fanatics, and even then this strange mix of old and new Bond characters might rub a purist the wrong way.
Rent this or wait for a price drop, there are better options out there.