When I first caught wind of the rumours circulating Activision's new James Bond title, I must admit that I was completely sceptical. Given their previous failures to produce a decent Bond game, I had no context for being excited or even hopeful that this instalment to the franchise would turn out good. As it pains me to say, I was right. 007 Legends is, at best, an espionage themed Call of Duty spin off gone horribly wrong.
As the official description entices players with an "original, overarching storyline inspired by six classic Bond movies," we soon learn that the actual storyline--or lack thereof--is not quite as promising. The game begins with a scene from the recently released Skyfall, where Bond is fighting the mercenary, Patrice, on the roof of a train in Turkey. As Bond's field partner, Eve lines up a shot, she misses and hits Bond, sending him careening into the rough waters below. As Bond sinks into the depths, he is hit with a series of flashbacks which serve as the six missions derived from the films Goldfinger, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Licence to Kill, Die Another Day, and Moonraker, with Skyfall added on through downloadable content. Now one might think that this is indeed an original and marvellous idea. Well, yes, if it was executed properly, and of course it wasn't.
Following Bond's first flashback, he wakes up in his Miami Beach hotel to find the dead, gold-painted body of Jill Masterson, thus beginning the Goldfinger mission. The problem I have with this is the lack of a back-story. Why did Bond wake up on the floor of the hotel? Why was the girl killed? How did MI6 learn about Operation Grand Slam? The answers are only known to those who've read the 007 novels or watched the films, and Activision used that to support their laziness. The worst part is, it happens like that with every mission. The player is thrown from mission to mission with absolutely no transition, "overarching storyline," or context as to what is happening.
The next issue I take up with 007 Legends is the gameplay. While from time to time, it felt like a Bond game--mainly because the 007 logo was right there on the cover--other times, it just felt like a poor man's Call of Duty. In a sense, like Activision's other failed title, Secret Service. During the game, players are presented with three parts open-map shootouts and one part stealth, and both are presented in a horrible fashion. The stealth elements are completely cumbersome and mildly annoying, being nearly impossible to successfully complete unless you take your afternoon to figure out where the enemies are, determine through guessing the extent of their field of vision and trying to not roll your eyes when another guard decides to break away from his predetermined path to see the body of another guard you'd killed. Another portion of the stealth elements requires the player to manoeuvre past guards that 95% of the time remain still with their backs toward you and the direction in which you must travel, making the segment pointless and stupid.
Lastly, the final issue I have with the game is the online and offline multiplayer. Similar to Call of Duty, 007 Legends recycled its predecessor's multiplayer, features, weapons (except a handful of new ones), and perks and just added maps mirroring the single player levels. Now that wouldn't be bad at all, except that the multiplayer is basically unplayable unless the host of the match has the Internet speeds that Google HQ uses. With an abundance of lagging and glitching, players will find themselves desperate for friends to come over and join them for a just as lacklustre offline session. The offline multiplayer reflects that of the online, except it has about 5 maps to choose from. I find myself going back to GoldenEye Reloaded or dusting off my Nintendo 64 or Playstation 2 for James Bond themed multiplayer.
What I did like about 007 Legends, however, was that even though it was overall terrible, I enjoyed experiencing those classic moments through interaction, opposed to just watching them. Such as chasing Zao through Iceland in Bond's Aston Martin, entering zero gravity in space and thwarting Hugo Drax's plans, and infiltrating Franz Sanchez's cocaine manufacturing plant. While the overall execution was horrid, as a Bond fan, I was still able to enjoy it.
All in all, 007 Legends is a disappointment, and more harshly, an insult to the James Bond franchise. With six poorly executed, incredibly short, and horridly lacking missions, a disgusting box art cover, and an even more repugnant DLC mission for Skyfall, based only on the first 10 minutes of the film...it's an utter failure. If I wasn't such a huge James Bond fan, I would have sold the game the same day I purchased it...but I will keep it for my collection and let it collect dust. I suppose now all that's left to do is pray for a miracle, in form of a decent game, or Activision losing the rights to the franchise.