GoldenEye 007 was over a decade ago. Despite that, fans of the timeless N64 classic still cling to the hope that someone, at some point, will make a new Bond game that can hold a candle to Rare's defining title. Developer Eurocom's had plenty of attempts: it's been making Bond games since The World Is Not Enough on N64 in 2000.
A dozen years and five games later, we arrive at 007 Legends, a celebratory game marking Bond's golden anniversary. The premise is interesting. Unlike previous Bond games, instead of committing to the events of a single movie, 007 Legends plucks scenes out of six: Moonraker, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Die Another Day, Licence To Kill, Goldfinger and the newest flick, Skyfall.
Each film gets its own mission, with multiple scenes in each that will have the nostalgia glands of long-time fans tingling furiously. Sounds great on paper, but this multi-plot setup is the cause for this game's first major flaw. There's simply no coherent plot to follow, nothing ties together.
One minute you're in a bedroom with a girl who appears to have been turned into solid gold, then you're skiing down mountains shooting at helicopters and then you're being airlifted into a complex of ancient ruins. There's no explanation of what's going on and nothing to connect each scene.
So, unless you've got 50-year-old Bond movies fresh in your memory, you won't have the foggiest idea what's happening. If you are a devout Bond fan, you'll despise the fact that Eurocom has recast Daniel Craig as Bond in all the classic films. Blond Bond on Goldfinger's laser slab? This is retconning of the worst kind.
The Spy Who Bored Me
The missions are equally flawed. What set GoldenEye apart in 1997 was that it made you feel like a cunning spy by giving you a variety of objectives and setting you loose in a range of hostile environments to figure things out largely for yourself. 007 Legends completely misses this point. Missions are essentially linear paths, with big white objective markers indicating where the game wants you to go and highlighting whatever button it wants you to press.
The objectives are spliced with 'investigative' scenes in which you're asked to track down secret doors, finger prints or safes to crack, but since these always lock you in a single room, there's very little actual investigating to do before you find what you're looking for and it's back to the Rambo-style gun battles.
The core shooting gameplay can offer an enjoyable standoff or two, but it's an experience that is sadly marred by a string of technical shortcomings. The GamePad offers little to enhance the experience, with a small and all but useless map in the centre of the touchscreen and giant buttons down the left and right that offer slightly more convenient access to weapons and gadgets during shootouts. There's nothing revolutionary and no Wii Remote support.
The AI henchmen show little intelligence or self-preservation. They don't work together and lack general spatial awareness, blindly shooting at walls. Arguably, level textures this ugly do need killing. A levelling system that has players rank up to unlock new perks, weapons and gun attachments as they progress through missions feels out of place, like a shallow afterthought.
Occasional attempts at stealth are ruined by unintuitive level design and the inability to move corpses, which makes staying undercover almost impossible. Since the enemies are short a few brain cells you're always better off charging in guns blazing, while scripted fights are so easy they might as well be automatic.