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007 Legends PS3 Review

About.com Rating 2 Star Rating

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007 Legends

007 Legends

Image © Activision
With the upcoming release of the highly-anticipated "Skyfall" and the recent release of the Blu-ray box set "Bond 50," it seemed like the perfect time for Activision to release a new James Bond game for the PS3. And the creative choice to reach into the catalog of the most famous spy of all time was a brilliant one. Instead of just playing another movie tie-in game like the truly mediocre "Quantum of Solace," fans can play through missions based on "Goldfinger," "Moonraker," "Die Another Day," "Licence to Kill," and "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," all recast with Daniel Craig as 007. Legendary villains like Oddjob and Jaws in a modern video game? It could have been the perfect blend of the nostalgia brought to the Bond games by the reboot of "GoldenEye 007" along with something fresh. Instead, it's an uninspired, glitchy, frustrating mess, redeemed only slightly by a robust multiplayer portion.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Activision
  • Developer: Eurocom Entertainment Software
  • ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter
  • Pros: Non-Stop Action, Robust Multiplayer
  • Cons: Glitchy Gameplay, Inconsistent Controls, Horrendous A.I., Mediocre Graphics, Insane Load Times

The developers at Eurocom Entertainment Software have plucked out five of the more action-packed movies in James Bond history and loosely connected them into a series of missions with a variety of gameplay, almost none of which is well-designed. The shooter aspect of the game feels cribbed straight from the "Call of Duty" franchise (which doesn't make a good fit at all with the smooth-and-suave Bond aesthetic) while the over-use of a phone that can take pictures, hack machines, and look for clues plays like "Detective Mode" out of "Batman: Arkham City." Even the multiplayer is one for which you'll have to make excuses to thoroughly enjoy it. The awkward graphics and inconsistent mechanics make for a cut-rate experience, one that gets the job done until "Black Ops II" comes out next month when you shelve this game for good.

Gameplay

007 Legends

007 Legends

Image © Activision

Let me just throw out some of the notes I took during my playthrough of the atrocious campaign for "007 Legends" -- "Could read a book during the load times." "Graphics look like 2003." "Gameplay is antiquated." "Melee SUCKS." "Stealth is even worse." And it goes on and on. "007 Legends" has some undeniably fun visceral moments but it's difficult not to when you turn a corner and shotgun an enemy in the chest. An enemy who probably heard you coming and stood there and took it. The enemy A.I. in this game is hilariously outdated. Here's my favorite example -- at several points, you'll find an enemy behind a mounted gun. If you take him out, other enemies will move to the gun to try and kill you. Even if you're standing right next to the gun. In other words, they will ignore melee or the weapon they're holding to run next to you to be shot. It's the kind of gaming development miscue that's unforgivable in 2012.

And it's far from alone. Enemies pop up like ducks in a shooting gallery as the motto here seemed to be quantity over quality. "If we throw 200 indistinct bad guys at them every mission, they'll be too busy shooting and reloading to get frustrated at the complete lack of creativity and ingenuity on display here." With so many great shooters on the market (the current leader in most Game of the Year polls, "Borderlands 2," is technically a first-person shooter), why should we be forgiving of a game with this many negative attributes just because it provides the boom? The people who made "007 Legends" cut multiple corners on nearly every level, knowing that the name and face on the box along with an onslaught of shooter action meant that they could.

In an effort to distract the player from the lack of creativity in the gameplay, the developers try to inject some stealth tactics and gadget work into every level and both efforts are miserable. Every time I tried to employ stealth mechanics -- crouching, silencer, etc. -- it would work for a little while but ultimately prove more annoying and unnecessary than just barging in guns blazing. And the cell phone that you use to hack, find clues, and take photos is horrendously designed. Not only does it look bad, it has clunky, outdated controls.

The campaign portion of "007 Legends" may be one of the worst of the year but the multiplayer section is predictably strong. I had little trouble finding matches, there are a variety of game types that will be especially familiar to "Goldeneye" fans, and I never had any lag issues. The maps are expectedly pedestrian but there is a bit of a thrill watching Jaws kill Oddjob over and over again. If I ever pick up "Legends" again, it will be for the multiplayer portion.

Graphics & Sound

"Goldeneye" had something of an outdated look visually to appeal to the nostalgia of players who grew up addicted to it on Nintendo 64. So what's the excuse here? Most of "007 Legends" looks abominable (check out the screenshot gallery). The backgrounds are often identical. The character animations look rigid. Physical mechanics of combat are inconsistent (for example, I once shot a guy who then flew toward me as if something had blown up behind him when it had not). I truly think that "007 Legends" wouldn't be so disappointing if it didn't look so generic. The recently-released "Doom 3 BFG Edition" looks better and that's a remaster of an old game not one that should look great from the floor up.

Overall

007 Legends Cover

007 Legends Cover

Image © Activision
The movie tie-in genre is a notoriously mocked and reviled one and so perhaps there should be little surprise at the artistic failure of "007 Legends." However, this one hurts more than something like "Monsters vs. Aliens: The Video Game" because of the true creative potential of its concept. It will probably be a smash hit and we will someday play through five more Bond movies in "007 Legends 2." Let's hope 007 fans get what they deserve instead of the bare minimum of this experience.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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