007 Legends Review
- Posted October 28th, 2012 at 10:55 EDT by Timothy Nunes
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James Bond has had a long life in gaming, but age seems to be catching up with him.
- Solid, if familiar, gameplay
- Good XP-earning system
- Terrible AI
- Very outdated, inconsistent graphics
- Poor execution throughout
Every time I see a Bond game, I hope against hope that it’s not as bad as the last one. Technically, I got my wish with 007 Legends. What has been a string of next-generation flops has finally led to a Bond game that can keep its head above the waters of mediocrity. However, that doesn’t mean it’s good.
Before I go any further, let me give a disclaimer: I’m not savvy with the realm of James Bond outside of the Daniel Craig era, so this opinion of 007 Legends is that of a man who is relatively unfamiliar with the character's film history.
The opening sequence is one of intrigue. A woman stops an SUV on a hill overlooking a curving railroad. She jumps out, sniper rifle in hand, and aims at two men fighting atop the approaching train. One of the men in the struggle is James Bond himself. Agent M tells the woman to take the shot, regardless of the cost, and she hits Bond, sending him into the river below.
And all I could think about were the raunchy graphics.
Poor visual quality isn't always the case, but the opening sequence shows off the worst parts of the game immediately. Even the SUV that the woman drives slides without natural friction or forces on the car itself. It's a poor first impression, but as a shooter, 007 Legends is thankfully solid. Movement is responsive, no delay is to be found, and all mechanics are simple enough to pick up and play. Better yet, the framerate is butter-smooth. Weapons all look excellent, and the vast array at your disposal is glorious. A variety of upgrades are also available, for everything from ammo capacity to silencers and sights. Those upgrades are purchased by spending experience point (XP) earned by achieving kill counts and headshots with weapons and gadgets, and each weapon and gadget has its own kill counter.
This same XP system applies to Bond’s limited gadgets as well. The first is his cell phone, which also can be used to scan fingerprints, hack into terminals, and analyze substances. His pen shoots multiple types of darts, including lethal, sleep, and shock darts. His watch is a baffling piece of hardware. I can’t help but feel like an idiot running around with my watch in my face as I navigated a game that already has a mini-map. The watch radar at least makes it possible to see enemies who are unaware of Bond's presence (something the mini-map can't do). Though stealth is possible in 007 Legends by using Bond’s wrist watch, it often feels like a poorly-executed afterthought.
The story is similarly disappointing, with little more than five unrelated events in the life of Bond to tie things together. Weird hooks and twists with no emotional value attempt to weave a convincing continuity, but largely fail. Still, this doesn’t mean that Bond fans won’t enjoy the setup, though same may cringe at the fact that Daniel Craig stands in as the default Bond for all five scenarios. For those wondering, 007 Legends covers plot threads from Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, License to Kill, Die Another Day, and Moonraker, respectively. And while the wildly different time periods and scenarios might feel jarring, the stories are at least told well. I was even enraptured by the first-person setpiece moments where I had no control of the game. Watching through the eyes of Bond as he jumps from helicopters and elevated structures is really invigorating, thanks to a gameplay system with the functional capability to respond to normal human movement. Whether this believability was a happy accident or intentional, that part of 007 Legends works really well.
It’s too bad the same can't be said about the enemy AI. Enemies are on constant, repetitious patterns where they run and slide—frictionless, I might add—into a hiding spot, and then stick their entire torso out to look for me. To make matter worse, unless you score a head shot, enemies take bullets like champions. There are a fair few times where I shoot a hefty barrage of bullets into one person, and that person doesn’t flinch or stagger. Instead, the goon keeps shooting at me, as if he’s facing a particularly ineffective gust of wind. Even attempts at realism fall short. Some enemies will ... (continued on next page)
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