007 Legends

License To Kill

Film-to-game adaptations tend to be lousy. 007 Legends is six film adaptations in one. You do the math.

By Drew Toal • October 29, 2012

As I wrestle with the shambling horror that is 007 Legends, I keep coming back to something fellow Gameological contributor Anthony John Agnello said in the Seeds GoldenEye 007 video: “GoldenEye is not a great James Bond game. … It’s just a good game. Its license is incidental. That’s the lesson that anyone making a licensed game should take away.”

Someone didn’t get that memo. It’s not like the bar was set particularly high. Yes, GoldenEye was an accidentally great game, but that was almost despite having a license to use the Bond movie’s story and characters. And I don’t think anyone really expected 007 Legends to equal GoldenEye’s cultural cachet, but at a bare minimum you expect something that doesn’t make you want to throw yourself on your own proximity mine.

Part of the problem has to do with the current status of 007. The last two Bond films—Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace—both starred Daniel Craig as the timeless British superspy. Craig brings a dour stoniness to a role that has traditionally been winking and debonair. While Sean Connery and Roger Moore spent most of their time drinking martinis and scoring exotic foreign babes, Craig takes his job more seriously, is apparently an expert in parkour, and might not even be able to father little Bonds. He’s more of an action hero.

007 Legends

It’s not necessarily a bad change—Craig’s Bond is, after all, more in line with Ian Fleming’s original vision—but the reason there have been 22 (soon to be 23) Bond films over 50 years is that they are so over-the-top unbelievable. They’re filled with cartoony villains and garnished with low-level sex and violence, and there’s never a doubt that Bond will prevail. The formula hasn’t varied much, and there’s comfort in that.

007 Legends seeks some sense of continuity between Craig and his previous incarnations by sticking the latest Bond into settings from previous films—Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Moonraker, Licence To Kill, and Die Another Day. (The soon-to-be-released Skyfall will be available in 007 Legends for free via a downloadble add-on in November). The first mission has Bond going up against the deranged Midas, Auric Goldfinger, who is planning to irradiate all the gold in Fort Knox so that the price of his own precious metal holdings will skyrocket.

007 Legends

Bond is forced to lead an assault on Fort Knox to put an end to this Koch-esque fantasy, but judging by his armament, he might as well be storming the beach at Normandy. As you cycle through various automatic weapons, shotguns, sniper rifles, and the rest of the usual video game shooter arsenal, you wonder how it came to this for the world’s most dashing MI6 agent. The Bond of the cinema rarely uses more than his rakish wit and Walther PPK to subdue Her Majesty’s foes, and now he’s a tea-drinking Rambo wannabe.

The game does make a token effort to introduce more traditional spycraft. Bond is able to use his smartphone to hack computer systems and snap photos. And during an in-game tutorial, you’re told that sticking to the shadows and using silenced weapons will allow you to sneak around undetected. In my experience, though, hiding in the dark recesses doesn’t offer any tangible benefit, and every situation quickly devolves into Somme-level carnage. Ever elegant, Bond even gets a turn strafing hired goons from a helicopter-mounted machine gun, for which there is no silencer.

007 Legends

Another vexing and characteristic problem arose as I started the levels of In Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Here, you reenact the classic ski chase scene from the film. As killers on snowmobiles come after you and your lady flavor of the week, Bond puts her on a snowmobile of her own and tells her to make a run for it. That leaves you to keep pace on your skis—and keep her alive. Weirdly, the on-screen instructions make no mention of how to gain ground speed, without which it’s impossible to keep up.

It’s not a huge omission in itself, but the supposed speed-up button causes no discernible change—Bond’s arms don’t even move to signify his using the ski poles, and the scenery passes no faster or slower. Only after a 30 to 45 minutes of fruitless, truncated chasing did I accidentally stumble on the answer. I find it hard to believe that this basic information was deliberately withheld. Instead, it’s the symptom of a broken game. Where is Bond’s gadget to fix this mess?

We have GoldenEye to thank for making console shooters mainstream, but 007 Legends illustrates the terrible cost. Giving the player a small arsenal and an unending stream of enemies is a formula that works; EA alone has released 10 military shooters in five years. Even if you’re not fatigued by all the face-shooting in games, you should at least take a quantum of solace in the wide variety of superior options out there.

007 Legends
Developer: Eurocom
Publisher: Activision
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Price: PC—$50; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360—$60
Rating: T

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392 Responses to “License To Kill”

  1. Citric says:

    The thing with Bond is that it should make a good game. You’ve got gadgets that can open up gameplay possibilities, the setting is ripe for the kind of shooty-shooty stabby-stabby stuff that apparently all modern games have to do, you’ve got a character that people mostly love and it’s a world that contains many different possibilities and environments.

    So it’s a shame that most of them are bad.

    • Bad Horse says:

      The problem is that Goldeneye set the precedent for Bond as an FPS hero, when he’s really more suited for a guns ‘n conversation type game. Think of the Stolen Memories mission from Mass Effect 2, and you’ve got just about the perfect template for a Bond game.

      • Aaron Riccio says:

        Alpha Protocol’s been unjustly maligned. It has problems — mostly in the gunplay and difficulty spikes — but the actual branching paths, story, and dialogue are a lot closer to the spycraft you’re asking for. 

        • Bad Horse says:

          I’m definitely going to get Alpha Protocol and play it at some point. It’s just such an obviously awesome idea that I’m surprised nobody has tried again.

        • Aaron Riccio says:

          @Bad_Horse:disqus It’s really just that sales tanked so hard that it discourages developers from trying again.


          I bought Alpha Protocol in a steam sale once, I’d pretty much forgotten about it but now you’re making me intrigued to play it

      • Citric says:

        Whether or not Alpha Protocol succeeded, the espionage RPG (as they called it) is a fundamentally good idea.

        • Ack_Ack says:

          It was a middling success – at times frustrating to play, but generally enjoyable, and a good idea.  It sounds a lot more enjoyable than this game, unfortunately.

      • Merve says:

        Alpha Protocol wavers between “good” and “so bad it’s good.” More than any other game, the events of the game reflect the consequences of your actions. On the other hand, because it’s so geared towards choice, both in plot and gameplay, the game’s systems can easily be exploited. Case in point: if you specialize in pistols and martial arts, you can shoot everybody to within an inch of death, then knock them all unconscious, allowing you to go through the game non-lethally.

        I’d say it’s a highly recommended bargain bin title. If nothing else, it’s worth it just to meet the character that Nolan North voices, Steven Heck.

    • BarbleBapkins says:

      What they need to do is make a Deus Ex: HR style game based on Bond. Semi-RPG choices and multiple styles for getting through a level using different gadgets/abilities would be quite neat.

      • Aaron Riccio says:

        Have you played the game Bad Horse mentioned above (Alpha Protocol)? It seems like a lot of people keep asking for something that existed and went unplayed.

        • BarbleBapkins says:

          I haven’t, although I have heard it is quite good if a tad glitchy. It was 2.50 on a Steam Sale one time and I stupidly didn’t pick it up, but I definitely will next time.

    • Captain Internet says:

      No-one Lives Forever 2 is that game, although it doesn’t feature James Bond and is more a generalised pastiche of the camper aspects of the Bond films. But it’s got all the gadgets, stealth and RPG-ness that you could ask for, and holds up rather well for a ten year-old game.

      • Merve says:

        I don’t remember any RPG-ness in NOLF2, but I might have put it out of my mind. The original NOLF is the superior game in my mind, and it’ll give you the closest thing to a female Bond that you’ll ever find. Also, bad guys discussing the complex moral implications of their actions.

        • Captain Internet says:

          Well, I say ‘RPG’ elements- I really mean you can customise some statistics using ‘Intelligence Points’ that you earn from reading messages and completing objectives. It’s a pretty dilute concept these days.

          • Merve says:

            Oh, that’s what you meant. I remember there being an intelligence point system, but I legitimately don’t remember using it to customize skills; I thought it was just a “high score” sort of thing. Considering that I played the game last year, this is kind of alarming. If my memory is like this in my twenties, I shudder to think what it’ll be like a few decades from now.


        NOLF 1 and 2 are some of the most underrated games ever made, in my opinion

        • AHyperkineticLagomorph says:

          No One Lives Forever is easily in my Top 10 favorite games of all times list. A first person shooter where stealth and subtlety is usually the best method but still has great over-the-top-action? Check. Side-splitting dialogue and characterization? Check. Bizarre gadgets and location to use them in? Check.

          The fact that there will never be a NOLF3 is one of the top responses on my list of “Reasons Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.”

    • The_Misanthrope says:

       Yeah, you could say much the same thing for Spiderman or Batman or whatever iconic hero.  Granted, some of these heroes were never going to get their due in the 8-bit or 16-bit era due to processing/graphical limitations.  Really, anytime after that, they’d just have to extract the core of that hero and just let the player have fun with it:  Spiderman should have fluid movement, Hulk should have the ability to wreck shit, etc. 

      Most times, it just comes down to the same problem that has plagued licensed game development since Atari’s E.T.:  not enough time for development.  They get the license and it has to be out in time to coincide with a release, so they just churn out something quick and dirty and slap the license on it.  You’d think developers and those that control these franchises would have learned this lesson by this point, but it still happens pretty regularly.

      Million-dollar idea:  Instead of the open-world punch-up of the Arkham series, wouldn’t it be neat to have a game that actually emphasized the “world’s greatest detective” thing that Batman has going.  The “cases” he solves could either be procedurely-generated or an a la carte selection of downloadable DLC.


        uhhhhh the Arkham games do just that, did you actually play them? (Riddler Challenges anyone?)

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          I don’t think finding hidden objects via unlocked gadgets = solving fascinating criminal cases.  Fun, yes, but not what he was talking about.

  2. boardgameguy says:

    lady flavor of the week?  that was James Bond’s eventual wife!

  3. hastapura says:

    Is it just me or does bringing the older films into a Craig-verse suggest that they all take place within a really short span of time? Cellphones in Goldfinger? So Bond had twenty-two odd massive adventures in time to still look this good?

    Of course it’s just occurred to me that I’ve given far too much thought to a game that exists mostly as a digital billboard…

    • Aaron Riccio says:

      Digital billboard? I always thought of the Bond movies as glorified car commercials and I’ve often wondered why the games emphasized the guns so much more than the cars.

      I see your point, though. Football players ought to stop complaining, right? I mean, if Daniel Craig can play twenty-two straight seasons of far more intense physical activity, well, then, take your lumps and move on.

      Side note: I’d love to see a sport involving parkour. Extreme Off-the-Ground Tag? 

      • Enkidum says:

        Actually, a Bond game that combined a good stealth FPS, spy-type minigames (I dunno, hacking from Deus Ex or whatever), with a kick-ass combat driving game (never played one, but I’m sure they exist) would be fucking awesome. So you could sideswipe people or be pushed off cliffs or whatever, and then once that section is done you have to go be a ninja spy guy. 

        Developers, just send me the money when you’re done.

        • Aaron Riccio says:

          The best Bond-like racing game I ever played was in Stuntman, so I know this component is possible. And sorely underutilized.


        there WAS a Bond racing game many moons ago on the PS1

      • Professor_Cuntburglar says:

         The car levels were always my favorite levels in the older Bond games. Nothing beats racing around a city in a sports car that shoots rockets.


      James Bond is actually a time traveler 

  4. Aaron Riccio says:

    This comment shouldn’t have appeared here, but it did, so I’ve re-edited it now. How’s that for a Bond-like gadget!

  5. Mooy says:

     The thing that exemplified this game best for me was around 1:15:00 in this video:
    They cut the power in Fort Knox for no real benefit other than to have cool green filter, and as they progress you can clearly see that there are almost no lights actually turned off, with every room still well lit.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Wow, that was crap.  I assume all of the guards you massacre there just happen to have night vision goggles?

  6. rvb1023 says:

    So what was the last good Bond game? I remember actually enjoying Nightfire but haven’t touched the series since.

    • Chris Howly says:

       Everything Or Nothing for the PS2 was pretty good, I thought.

    • Bad Horse says:

      I liked Agent Under Fire a lot when it came out, but I wouldn’t speak to it actually being any good in this day and age. It did have this delightful multiplayer mode called Escort that was all counter-sniper action. That was just sustained suspense followed by sudden death.


      Everything Or Nothing was the lst Bond game I played
      it was…..pretty darn mediocre 

    • Professor_Cuntburglar says:

       Nightfire and Agent Under Fire were the last two that I played that were any good. They were pretty ridiculous, but there were a lot of little secret things you could find in the levels using gadgets. Also finding a Bond Moment was always fun.

  7. caspiancomic says:

    Wait wait wait, they put Craig’s joyless automaton Bond in Moonraker? The film that a) takes place in outer space, and b) features a return appearance from Jaws, second most ludicrous Bond adversary after Odd Job!?

    (Full disclosure: I actually quite like Craig’s Bond, but there’s no denying that no Bond has ever needed a martini and a lay quite like his)

    • Bad Horse says:

      I’m 3 Manhattans deep, so I’ll bite on this. I love Craig’s Bond also, but I also hope when he’s done, nobody takes up his mantle. I want Bond to be amoral and psychopathic and with movies to match. Bond being human makes him less challenging as a character somehow. I would have tons of fun with a Bond who was inhuman and a villain who was completely relatable. That shit would be hard to watch, and also amazing.

  8. Dunwatt says:

    I cannot help but slow-clap the last line of this article.


    Unrelated: given Bond’s massive arsenal in this game, it can’t possible expect us to believe that Oddjob is in any way a threat, can it?  Even the generic thugs backing him up in that photo look more menacing, given the fact they have guns, and are not merely tossing around their haberdashery.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      What, you don’t think a dude with a buzzsaw frisbee built into his hat is scary?  Even if he was the World Frisbee-Hat Champion, you could still always…you know…duck or take a step to the side?

      • AHyperkineticLagomorph says:

         The thing is, Odd Job is really only known for two things: Being short and his razor hat.
        Being short isn’t intimidating and since his movie came out, we got Kung Lao in Mortal Kombat, who is a lot scarier with a hat.

        • Dunwatt says:

          If you ask me, the propeller hat is an underused accessory when it comes to villainy.  Just sharpen the blades a bit and voila! Unexpected killing apparatus.

      • Dunwatt says:

         Maybe this new game doesn’t have a control for strafing.  It would be a giant leap backward for the entire genre!  Cut out the word “backward,” and you’ve got yourself a blurb to paste on the game’s box.


    is this really THAT bad? I thought it looked kinda neat, not worth the full price but maybe worth a steam sale grab down the road