Bond goes off his game

You’ll be shaken, not stirred, by the most ambitious James Bond videogame yet.

Activision and Eurocom are no strangers to James Bond videogames, having made one of the most entertaining 007 titles, GoldenEye, for just about every console.

With 007 Legends for Xbox 360 and PlayStation3, they hoped to raise the bar with a game that would capture James Bond’s career as played by all six actors.

They even managed to sneak in the many Bond movies in a way that almost makes sense. If you caught the Skyfall movie trailer, you would have seen Daniel Craig’s Bond fighting on top of a speeding train before he gets shot by a sniper and plunges into the river far below.

The shock must have been too much, as he recalls his adventures in the wrong order – Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Licence To Kill, Die Another Day and ... Moonraker. Skyfall will be made available at a later date as free downloadable content, so as not to spoil the story before the movie’s release.

Face off

Even though a different actor plays Bond in each of the films mentioned above, the videogame imposes Craig’s mug onto 007 in every mission.

If this was done for the sake of continuity then why not go the whole hog and get Craig’s voice too? Or wouldn’t it have been a lot better to just throw logic out the window and have the likenesses of Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan even if they weren’t lending their voices to the game? But that’s just my opinion.

That complaint is just scratching the surface of 007 Legends’ missteps. The levels have also been updated to modern times to the point that some of them are hardly recognisable. There is also not much exposition in the game which means you’ll do well to read all the Bond stories here to actually know what’s happening in the game.

Still, 007 Legends is not without its moments. When Bond is trapped with a laser slowly cutting its way to his crotch, you can’t help but feel a tingle down your spine when Goldfinger delivers his “I expect you to die” line.

In between these rare moments are lots of gunfights, sneaking around, driving sequences and boss fights with classic Bond baddies such as Jaws, Oddjob and Franz Sanchez.

In many ways, the game plays like GoldenEye: Reloaded and the Call of Duty games which is not a bad thing.

You can choose to have a health bar and body armour like in Reloaded or have a modern recharging health system like in the latter.

It also has a working cover mechanic with AI enemies that are smart and aggressive – stay too long in cover and they’ll out flank Bond in large numbers.

Disposing of enemies and completing challenges grants you experience points which can be used to purchase enhancements for Bond (like more stamina) or attachments for his many guns, all of which come in handy in the tougher levels.

Hidden potential

The superspy doesn’t have to go with guns blazing into every villain’s lair. The game has reworked the stealth mechanics of Reloaded but it’s a hit-and-miss affair.

Unlike Reloaded, enemies won’t call for reinforcements if Bond is spotted. Instead, they have suspicion meters that fill up, which gives him a chance to sneak away to another spot.

It sounds like a wonderful enhancement but the line-of-sight indicators are hard to gauge and there’s no way to peek around corners.

While you can take out enemies quietly if you have a silencer attachment, you can’t hide the bodies. So it’s usually just a matter of time before your cover is blown and you get caught in another firefight.

It’s not all bad until the game forces you to play mandatory stealth sequences and fails you if you are spotted even once.

The payoff of each level is a clash with classic villains from the five Bond movies but even this doesn’t raise the level of gameplay by much.

Each boss encounter is nothing more than a boring quick time event where the game prompts you to follow a sequence of instructions by pressing the corresponding buttons on your game controller.

Multiplayer mayhem

Just about everything is wrong with 007 Legends. You just know it when 007 introduces himself as “James Bond” instead of the iconic, “Bond, James Bond.” in the early stages of Goldfinger.

But there is one area that 007 Legends shines and that is in its four-player splitscreen mode, something not very common any more in videogames. Although a little painful on the eyes, it’s a lot more fun to play co-operatively with a bunch of mates in the same room to spice up the rather bland feel of this Bond game.

Both the splitscreen and online multiplayer modes offer a huge character roster with each villain having unique skills that gives him an edge. Ultimately, it’s sad to see 007 Legends fail so miserably considering that it has classic Bond movies as source material.

If anything, this just proves that videogame tie-ins for movies are a bad idea because the developer doesn’t get enough lead time to actually do a good job regardless of how good the franchise is.

But if you are still hankering for a Bond game just because, well, it’s the season, we suggest you try GoldenEye: Reloaded or the not-so-well-publicised James Bond 007: Blood Stone.

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