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007 Legends review: Fundamentally mishandles the franchise

Stop getting Bond wrong!

A suited and booted agent cocks a Walther PPK/S and quietly approaches Fort Knox. So far, so Bond. He creeps behind an army jeep, approaches a barbed wire barricade, then...

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...whips a shotgun from his back pocket and shoots a dozen green berets in the face. While they fling to the ground like rag dolls, the rest of the platoon grab bazookas and make scorch marks all over the fortified vault's Kentucky car park. After much circle-strafing and waiting patiently behind cover for health to regenerate, the agent waltzes on in. Just like in Goldfinger!

It's the first of six eras blasted apart by Daniel Craig's Bond (his physical likeness anyway), presumably given a time machine by Q and sent back to 'clean up'. The rest - On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Moonraker, License to Kill, Die Another Day and Skyfall (released, curiously, post-launch as free DLC) - let you explore familiar locations down iron sights, shooting soldiers of all ethnicities in Blofeld's volcano lair, Hugo Drax's space station, Gustav Grave's Ice Palace and more.

HER TRAVESTY'S SECRET SERVICE

It's never explained why you're the blond Bond throughout rather than Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton or Brosnan, and it's likewise left a mystery as to what, when, where or how anything is happening in general. Memorable moments from the films are shoehorned in with little regard - no, active contempt - for coherence.

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In the first chapter, Bond finds his girlfriend splayed on a bed and painted gold. We were never introduced to her, nor explained of her significance, but hey, it happened in the film right? Later, as we're escaping from Goldfinger's inexplicably modern lair, we hop in our Aston Martin and get taken hostage by a random goon. It's no trouble, though, as Craig coolly hits the eject button and sends the unwanted passenger flying. That happened once too, right?

Developer Eurocom has a tendency to simply cherry-pick famous Bond moments, but they each needed to serve the plot to avoid being a pastiche of the franchise .

Levels show a similar dearth of inspiration. For every towering bio dome there's a generic loading bay or industrial complex (what, by the way, is the difference between a refinery and a smelting room?)

007 Legends copies concepts without asking why. Her majesty's finest is a spy, not John Rambo, yet the game steals Call of Duty's template wholesale, abandoning the pretence behind short sections where you'll use your smart phone to highlight recent finger marks on a security panel, or hack into mainframes with pressure-sensitive trigger presses, in favour of killing everything in sight, whether down a mountain, or on a snowmobile, or in a cable car, or in space, or in a quick-time-event, or a turret section, or a run-away-from-collapsing-base bit. Admittedly varied but dunderheaded all the same.

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This is not Bond. Bond's about cold style, about playing mind games with the man across the casino table, about infiltration and subterfuge and the odd lame pun. Yet all 007 Legends borrows from 50 years of Bond is the part where he loads a gun.

It wouldn't even be a negative if the shooting here was any good, but it's not. In fact, it's one of the limpest FPSes this generation, rendering devastating weaponry laughably lightweight and somehow managing to make firing an Uzi like squeezing off a few spongy rounds from a Nerf rifle. It's aiming for Call of Duty when it needed to take lessons from Hitman.

Stealth is possible, and pop-ups hint when you're in a compatible area (signified by enemies who all conveniently have their backs turned), but with the basic inability to hide bodies, and hive mind guards where if one spots you, they all do, it's not encouraged. There's zero tension when you know at any minute you could whip out a fully automatic and go to town.

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The CoD comparison stretches into personal challenges - get 20 headshots with an AK47, sprint a mile, snap 10 necks - which reward with XP used to buy perks and weapon attachments, and standalone missions resembling Modern Warfare's Spec Ops mode. There are four: defence (fight off enemy waves), infiltrate (get into a base undetected), assault (shoot everyone) and escape (escape). None are particularly fleshed out, repeating scenarios from the campaign.

EVERYBODY DOES IT BETTER

Multiplayer at least shows some hallmarks of originality. Each Bond legend has their own unique trait. Odd Job, of course, throws his steel-lined hat for a one-shot kill; Zorin's grenades, like the man himself, have a short fuse; Pussy Galore can sprint indefinitely thanks to her 'extreme fitness'; and Dr No has bulletproof arms.

It shows flashes of what Bond meant to gamers when Goldeneye reined supreme in bedrooms and dormitories, and four-player splitscreen with cheeky modifiers including paintball, golden gun and tiny player mode boost make the nostalgia factor all the more potent, but, falling at the first hurdle, a lack of bots make the chances of lone players enjoying the competitive game post launch weekend are slim.

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Eurocom's first mistake is that it hasn't made a Bond game. Its second mistake is not even making a good stand-in. From its bafflingly hotchpotch narrative and a campaign which schizophrenically leaps from one out-of-place scenario to the next, to blatant rip-offs of CoD's perk system (which includes 'last stand' and 'radar camouflage'), weapon attachments, custom load-outs, and even prestige mode, there's little reason to play this rather than the real deal. 007 Legends is, as M would say, a dinosaur. A relic.

The verdict

More CoD than Bond, 007 Legends spectacularly betrays a 50-year film franchise and breaks several intellectual property laws in the process.

  • Playing as iconic Bond villains.
  • Varied, scattershot mission design.
  • A blatant and incompetent CoD clone.
  • Brainlessly shooting everything, everywhere.
  • No Connery, Moore or Brosnan.
  • Daniel Craig in space.
4
Format
Xbox 360
Developer
Activision
Publisher
Activision
Genre
FPS

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