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007 Legends Preview [E3 2012]

2012 could be one of best years for the suave spy that is James Bond since we’re not only getting the third Bond film starring Daniel Craig but we’re also receiving 007 Legends, the latest Bond video game which takes classic era Bond and has it retrofitted to fit today’s modern sensibilities.  

Featuring five classic Bond films retold with a modern touch, 007 Legends could be the closest James Bond fans get to seeing classic Bond films remade while still retaining the personality that made them so unique in the first place.  Being the Bond mega fan that I am I decided to venture over to Activision’s gargantuan E3 booth to check out 007 Legends and see if it has the makings to be a truly great 007 video game.

Just like many of Activision’s core titles for 2012, 007 Legends was at E3 in a non-playable capacity since Activision just likes to roll that way. I honestly don’t know why Activision didn’t present 007 Legends in a grand way since what I saw of the game looked good as it has the potential to be a key 2012 Holiday title.

Presented to me and other members of the “esteemed” gaming press was an extended hands-off demo of the Moonraker stage, the first mission in 007 Legends.  Like I said earlier there will be five classic Bond films included in 007 Legends which will be presented as individual missions comprising of around three to four levels a piece.  With each mission taking around two to three hours to complete we’re looking at a steady ten to twelve hour game depending on what difficulty setting the game is played at and how many bonus items are initially procured.

With that tidbit of info out the way I guess I should get to the meat of the topic and talk about what I witnessed during the Moonraker demo.  Right from the get go I was impressed with how Eurocom adapted the general Moonraker style (spaceships, “realistic” sci-fi galore) into a setting that wouldn’t seem too outlandish for the Daniel Craig era Bond. Starting off with a small sneaking mission, I saw Bond take out a series of guards with his nifty pen gadget which shoots a tranq dart, once again living up to the mantra that the pen is mightier than the sword.  The pen gadget in the game may sound a bit excessive compared to the Craig era Bond in which he simply beats people with his fists or shoots them, but the game does have a slightly grounded tone up until a point I’ll get to later.

Generally speaking on an aesthetics front the game is visually pleasing and stylistically it has that grand 007 feel to it as the installation Bond was infiltrating has a bit of sleek sci-fi to it but still felt like it could be an actual industrial facility in the world, albeit one that was created by a billionaire mad man.

Once Bond decided to throw sneaking out the window in favor of shooting stuff up the game did feel a bit familiar in the sense that it was basically similar to what Eurocom did with GoldenEye: Reloaded.  Basically amounting to something that could be described as Call of Duty: James Bond Edition, 007 Legends still retained a sense of Bond personality since shooting bad guys in orange jump suits with laser guns is kind of nuts. Yup, there are indeed laser guns in the Moonraker stage which are of the blue laser colored pew pew variety.  Suddenly seeing Bond pick up a laser gun and shoot baddies with it was a bit awkward at first but this is James Bond and Moonraker we’re talking about here. Out of all the things Moonraker is known for it’s perhaps the most infamous for having a grand action finale set in space which has dudes shooting laser guns so such an inclusion could be considered a homage in a sense.

The rest of the action in the Moonraker stage did seem rather fitting for a Bond tale as it included shooting up a bunch of dudes, piloting a gatling gun on a helicopter, and even doing a brief battle with Jaws.  It makes sense that Jaws would be included in 007 Legends but it the boss battle felt a bit random. I don’t know if it was merely because of the section that was being shown, but Jaws literally showed up out of nowhere and the game suddenly went into a brief QTE based boss battle that lasted just around a minute.  Seeing Jaws was cool and all, but the battle did leave a bit to be desired and came across as nothing more than fan service.

I’m far from being the biggest fan of Moonraker but from what I saw of 007 Legends the game looked good.  Eurocom may be retaining a lot of the core attributes from the past Bond games such as the gadgets and how they’re used in the level and even the action seemed familiar to what we’ve already seen in GoldenEye: Reloaded.  Though the elements may be familiar, there was nonetheless a cool charm in 007 Legends demo since the game seemed thought out and seeing Moonraker retold in a non crappy late 1970s way was intriguing. 

I’m still a bit skeptical about how certain elements of the game will be in the grand scheme of things and how fleshed out the Skyfall inspired mission will be seeing as how it’ll be post-release DLC. But if everything gels in the end and each James Bond film is retold in a way that makes sense and makes for a fun gameplay experience I think it’ll be hard not to be amazed with 007 Legends as it could be the perfect video game love letter to the James Bond franchise.