I like 007. I own all the films. I've read a couple of the books. I'll likely go see Skyfall at the cinema when it's released later this week. I am, therefore, the kind of person likely to be interested in picking up 007 Legends, the new James Bond-themed FPS from Eurocom and Activision.
The opening credits reek of promise. Bond is accidentally shot by a colleague, dropping from his precarious perch on a speeding train into cold water and a deep coma. We sink into his subconscious, drifting into the promise of fresh encounters with old adversaries. It might be a simplistic premise, but it holds together well enough.
Across five missions based loosely on classic films, Bond tackles a variety of different opponents in this fairly traditional first-person shooter. Old favourites Goldfinger and Moonraker are joined by Die Another Day, On Her Majesty's Secret Service and License to Kill (a sixth mission, Skyfall, will be available as DLC shortly after the release of the film). The current Bond, Daniel Craig, reprises his role as Britain's most famous secret agent, assuming the poses first struck by Connery, Moore, Lazenby, Dalton and Brosnan.
Purists (like me) may struggle with some of the changes made to the various narratives. The idea behind Legends has real promise, but the execution of it feels too disjointed. Perhaps they've tried to condense too much content. The plot lines themselves are certainly reminiscent of the films that inspired them, but so much has been cut away and altered to make them fit the Legends concept.
First appearances are encouraging. The graphics, whilst not being particularly impressive, hold their own in a marketplace crowded by similarly styled shooters. The character likenesses are all sound. Pussy Galore looks great, Goldfinger looks greedy and Odd Job looks, well, like... Odd Job. It's a trend that continues right through to the very end, when Michael Lonsdale reprises his role as Drax, and once again we clap eyes on Jaws.
The level design is straight forward, but there's nothing very dramatic going on. It all feels by-the-numbers and calculated. Action rarely strays away from go here, shoot him, scan that, go there, shoot them, repeat, rinse, repeat again. Environments echo locations from the films, but objectives themselves are simplistic, and apart from a few moments of variation such as a zero gravity gunfight and a skiing sequence, there's not much to inspire a replay other than secondary objectives missed during the first round.
Normal gun-led action is complimented by basic stealth gameplay. The stealth itself is passable, sticking to shadows and crouching keeps you from blowing your cover, and there are often multiple routes around the environments. But there wasn't enough of it, and the level design didn't feel suited to that particular style of play. Short-sighted troops and simplistic implementation detracted from some promising ideas.
One positive element is the way that it's possible to recover from a mistake when sneaking around, should the need arise. It doesn't work all the time, but often if you stumble upon a patrol, acting with deadly speed can mean taking down opponents before an alarm is raised. In these heart-pounding moments 007 Legends is at its best. It's a shame, then, that these moments are all too fleeting.