007 Legends PS3 review – Get a Skyfall of this trip down memory lane
The official line on making a Bond game using a greatest hits compilation of missions is that it’s a way of celebrating the series’ big 50th anniversary. Realistically, though, it sounds like the budget option, an easy way of recycling content to ease the infamously manic production schedule of a movie tie-ins. Predictably, in the case of 007 Legends, reality wins.
007 Legends PS3 review
Before we get to the game itself, there are problems on a basic conceptual level. 007 Legends revisits moments from all of the onscreen Bonds, with six missions in total based on Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Moonraker, Licence To Kill and Die Another Day, with Skyfall to follow as free DLC. But in each case you play as Daniel Craig, whether you’re discovering a gold lady painted to death in your room or fighting a man with metal teeth in near-earth orbit. Instead of celebrating 50 years of Bond, it actually irons his history flat into a weird revisionist plaque. You’re always Daniel Craig, and you’ve always got an Xperia T smartphone.
The Xperia dominates the mandatory gadgety part of the game. Bond uses it to take incriminating pictures, analyse chemicals, and to hack certain electronic devices. In combination with a radar watch showing the location of guards and security cameras, and a pen than fires sleeping darts, Bond has all the tools he needs for intricate stealthy gameplay.
On paper, anyway. In practice everything but the hacking is just a matter of clicking a button, with no sense of true interaction. The game just isn’t robust enough to enable in-depth sneaking, despite the false hope given by the nicely conceived awareness indicators which point out the position and alertness level of guards on the brink of spotting you. There’s just not enough depth – whereas something like Dishonored gives you scope to make mistakes and recover, the routines and patrol patterns here are so shallow, and your options so limited (Bond can’t hide guards’ bodies and alarms seem to be triggered inconsistently) that the stealth comes off brittle and unenjoyable.
It also means that most missions devolve into all-out war, running gun battles which, thanks to familiar fonts and snap-to aiming, feel like a watered down version of Activision stablemate Call Of Duty. These are for the most part poor, designed as a series of chaotic open-room encounters with enemies coming from all sides in a way that makes tactical play feel almost impossible. Worse still we’re robbed of any meaningful feedback from shooting endless henchman by stiff cardboard box physics, which leave dead soldiers propped up behind cover like eerie trench scarecrows and send others flying in straight-bodied backwards somersaults when hit with the shotgun.
So the stealth doesn’t work, the gadgets are hollow, and the shooting isn’t fun. But the final kick in the Saville Row pants is that 007 Legends’ marquee feature, that it’s a grand showcase for all of Bond’s greatest enemies, falls resoundingly flat. Having battled through each of the dreary conveyor-belt missions, your reward in each case is an anticlimactic boss battle which is at best semi-interactive. Blofeld, for instance, is bested using what might be the clunkiest hand-to-hand combat mechanic ever devised, a villain of huge standing and renowned cunning reduced to comically staged quick-time fisticuffs.
The others fare no better, and the problem is clear. 007 Legends has raided the Bond vaults looking for valuable ideas and characters that might be used as a substitute for quality gameplay. Instead what we have is a game that falls a long way short of the history is brings into play – not just another fumbled tie-in but a painfully wasted opportunity.