After last year's excellent "Goldeneye Reloaded," Activision and the developers at Eurocom have stepped into James Bond's past with "007 Legends," a game featuring events from earlier Bond films. However, after playing through it, we can't help but think this poor spy got left out in the cold.
The game starts with an event from the upcoming "Skyfall," where Bond is shot in error by a female sniper. He falls into the water below, only to start having flashbacks from his previous adventures – with current star Daniel Craig oddly replacing the actors who played Bond in previous films, including Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan.
These stages – inspired by "Goldfinger," "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," "Moonraker," "Licence To Kill" and "Die Another Day" – are loyal to each film's content. "Goldfinger" has the classic laser sequence, while "Moonraker" has ridiculously orange space suits and the option of shooting enemies in zero gravity.
However, "007 Legends" is filled with inconsistent gameplay. One minute you're frantically shooting through the snowy headquarters of Bond's arch-enemy Blofeld while being prompted to hurry. The next, everything stops completely while you search for clues in Blofeld's office, using functions on your smartphone. You're also required to do stealth in spots against guards who are completely ignorant one minute and super-alert the next.
What's more, the controls are terrible at times. Fistfights with enemies – which shouldn't be necessary, since you carry a small arsenal – require you to push your controller's analog sticks in certain areas, or press shoulder buttons to dodge incoming attacks. It's a sloppy system.
And when it comes to finishing an enemy, it's handled automatically. During your fight with Goldfinger's right-hand man, Oddjob, you don't even get the satisfaction of frying him with an electrical cable – it's done for you.
So control is either lacking or not present at all.
The single-player campaign takes a few hours, after which you can either log online or jump into four-player split-screen mode to battle friends. This is actually the best part of the game, though it's just a repeat of what last year's "Reloaded" had. If you have that game, there's hardly anything worth upgrading to here, aside from some new levels.
"007 Legends" also suffers from many glitches. The frame rate jumps around madly, and there are times when enemies barely react to getting shot – even with a rocket launcher. There's also very little notification of what to do in certain stages. In one, you're asked to bring down a laser-shooting tank but not given any idea where to find the rockets, beyond stumbling across one in a random area.
Activision also made some odd choices when resurrecting characters. Carey Lowell returns to her role as an ex-CIA agent from "License To Kill," and Richard Kiel reprises the metal-toothed Jaws from "Moonraker." But Halle Berry, who played Jinx in "Die Another Day," has been replaced by a different actress. At least Craig, who with "Skyfall" has done three Bond films, is represented well in the game, as is Judi Dench, portraying Bond's boss, M.
Perhaps the worst mistake of all is how suddenly the game ends. It's supposed to include stages based on "Skyfall," but Activision won't be releasing those (as a free download) until shortly after the film's release. They would've provided a better conclusion to the game – rather than just a sudden one.
Not much makes sense in "007 Legends." Between the multiple gameplay problems and the technical screw-ups, it's a wonder this super-spy didn't turn in his resignation beforehand. Let's hope the next Bond game gets back up to the spy's usual standard.