I have been a staff writer for This Is My Joystick for almost four years now, and during that time I have been fortunate enough to receive review copies of some superb games. Some of these have been traditional big hitters that have saved me a purchase, such as FIFA or PES, while others have been games that I would otherwise never have played and that in many cases have been a pleasant surprise.
I consider myself incredibly lucky not to have received anything for review that is truly awful, that is until now. 007 Legends is, without question, the worst game I have reviewed to date. In fact, it is very high up on the list of worst games ever. Here’s why.
Happy birthday, James
Rather than following one of the many great storylines that the Bond franchise has produced over the past fifty years, or even take the world and characters to produce a new story to celebrate and show off all the things that makes Bond so loved, developers Eurocom have taken, arguably, the easy option by choosing one mission from each of the actor’s eras.
The idea here is clearly to give fans of the Secret Agent the opportunity to tackle some of those iconic moments we have grown up with. It’s a great idea in theory and there have been plenty of great moments down the years that could have been included; the problem is it that the game feels quite fragmented as a result.
Shoot by numbers
So, we’ve all played COD, right? Any FPS? Ever? 007 Legends is about as generic as they come, from the basic controls to the weapon upgrades. You can carry up to three weapons at a time with these being covered by sidearm, rifle/shotgun and machine gun. Weapon upgrades come in the standard category of sights, barrels and under carriage which in truth don’t make a huge amount of difference to how the weapons feel or sound, with the exception of the red laser sight or the silencer.
In addition to this, Bond will have a smartphone and his watch (with all the mod cons) to aid his progress, and a tranquiliser pen becomes available about half way through. When selected the watch will show you the vicinity of your enemies as red dots and can be also be used to disarm security cameras with a laser beam. The phone is your go-to device, much like in real life, and allows you to hack systems or search fingerprints as well as take pictures. Mind you, the latter can only be done when the game wants you to in order to progress the story.
The hacking is just one of the many little mini-games that serve to break up the action and they soon get very repetitive. When you find the system to hack you hold X and the phone screen brings up two vertical bars with a coloured chunk moving up and down on either side. To complete the hack you need to hold the RT and LT buttons to hover icons over each, turning them blue. This is on a par with the lock-picking which sees you line up broken circles on your watch face for sheer simplicity and boredom, but nothing quite lives up to the boss battles.
There’s no pattern to work out. You don’t have to try and target and hit them from distance; you don’t even have to duck into cover or defend. In 007 Legends a boss fight sees a scripted punch up that has you flicking the left and right analogue sticks up and down at a specific time (highlighted by an icon on-screen) to hit your enemy. In fact, boring doesn’t even come close to covering it; the fight sequences in the NHL games are done better.
The mini games come fairly regularly to break up the otherwise bog-standard shooter fare that’s on offer here. Enemies will attack with little or no regard for their own life, and to help make things even easier for you there is an auto target system that means a quick pull of the LT button snaps the target to the nearest enemy. Well, that’s the idea. Unfortunately this doesn’t always seem to work, and when it does snap to an enemy it isn’t always the one directly in your line of sight or even one that’s still alive. So you’ll be getting shot at as you repeatedly tap the button to try and get the relevant target in the meantime.
Other features of the game include some stealth sections that ask you to remain hidden, despite there being a lack of a proper cover system. You can walk up to a wall or other such object to hide behind it and Bond will go into cover by lifting his gun. You don’t really stick to cover though, and moving between is just a case of moving as normal. There are also some collectibles to go after in the form of character bios and organisational intel. The intel comes in the form of a folder, while the character bio items could, quite literally, be anything, from a picture on the wall to a model in the villain’s office.
Each level also has side objectives outside the main target which will include finding all the collectibles, finishing it in a set time or achieving a target bonus. Again you don’t get a lot other than XP for any of it, so it will hardly draw you into the world.
There are also some driving sections which are about as enjoyable as going for a joyride with that old girl who failed her test about a hundred times, blindfolded. There’s a run through the hills on a ski-doo and you’ll even get a flight on a helicopter where you unleash a rail-gun on a wave of enemies, but they all fail to capture any imagination as they look bland and feel pathetic.
In need of a facelift
The label of ‘last-gen’ is used a little too freely in my opinion, when criticising a game’s visuals. With 007 Legends though, I’d actually go as far to say that it would be a little unfair on the last generation of home consoles. I am not joking when I say I have seen better looking games on the MegaDrive!
The overall level design in itself isn’t that bad, but the colours and textures are truly embarrassing. Walls look like they are made from paper mache rather than stone, while the effects like rain, smoke and fire are just laughable. On the very first level, Bond walks into a compound and sets off a device that triggers the explosion of around ten fighter planes. A sort-of lightning bolt linked all the jets prior to the explosion, and I literally fell off my chair laughing at how bad this looked.
It doesn’t stop there though. The front end presentation wouldn’t look out of place on a Commodore Amiga, with the unlocked character bios giving you either a fairly bland-looking dossier or a picture of the character looking like they were drawn by a blind five-year old. Then there’s the glitches; enemies are scripted to appear in set places as you reach a certain point, and unfortunately there isn’t always a doorway for them to appear from so they just seem to teleport in.
I’ve also seen weapons run around the map on their own as the NPC wears some sort of magical camouflage, and the tutorials, though almost definitely by design, look like Tron with cardboard cut outs.
Dum de de dum, dum dum dum…
Vocally there is absolutely no improvement either. Sure, there is the famous Bond riff and you’ll recognise some theme tunes, but the voice acting is shoddy despite having the Bond license and some recognisable names on the cast. Bond himself is voiced by Timothy Watson who does a reasonable job of Daniel Craig, but the scripting is pretty poor so the conversation often appears quite random.
However, compared to the sound effects the voice acting is actually Oscar-worthy. I cannot think of any game, on any system, that has had such pathetic sounding weapons. The guns can be summed up by the fact that the machine guns sound like cap guns, and the rail gun immediately made me draw a comparison with my nephew’s whoopee cushion! This extends to the grenades, which detonate with as much ground-shaking force as someone bursting a balloon.
007 Legends has plenty of multiplayer modes to be enjoyed/endured over XBox Live or via split screen. Some of them are even relatively well conceived, such as the Data Miner option which requires you to retrieve and download a data file without dying and while preventing other players from doing the same.
The maps for these multiplayer levels are also reasonably well designed (all be it that they still look bloody awful). There’s some decent variety, from cliff sides that include caves and tunnels, to the more enclosed Fort Knox, which despite being closed-in has multiple levels. The big problem is that outside of the standard Team Conflict (read Deathmatch) you’ll do well to get more than three or four people in a game, if you can get a game at all. Even the Team Conflict mode has its moments of taking a while to find a game or having less than half the allowed numbers.
In addition to the rubbish sound and visuals from the single-player campaign and the low numbers you also have to deal with some fairly regular slowdown. How?
Maybe I was being a bit naïve but I was expecting at least an enjoyable, action-packed shooter out of 007 Legends. How wrong was I! This is the worst advert for the video-game industry I have ever seen. A bland, dull, boring game which has been released purely to cash-in one of the movie industry’s most iconic characters.
It does nothing for the franchise and even less for the developers, who should be ashamed of themselves for letting this anywhere near release. Not only should you not buy this game; if someone offers it you for free you should slap them in the face with a cold wet fish.