Poorly shaken and not stirred
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 23:10
My dad introduced me to the wonderful world of MI6 agent James Bond when I was around 11 years old. We’ve seen seven or eight of the series’ 22 movies together (soon to be 23 with next month’s “Skyfall”), but my favorite remains one of the most classic Bond films of all, “Goldfinger.”
The story of Bond crossing paths with Auric Goldfinger, whom he prevents from nuking Fort Knox and irradiating much of the world’s gold supply to become a billionaire, always gets me. There’s the striking death of Jill Masterson, who dies covered in gold paint; the golf scene, which showed Bond’s cunning as he wins a bar of Nazi gold; Bond’s final fight with Oddjob, the hat-throwing assassin. It’s classic spy fiction, and with Sean Connery’s help, 007 became one of the world’s most iconic heroes.
Fast forward to Tuesday, when Activision released “007: Legends,” their latest 007 release timed to coincide with “Skyfall.” The first-person shooter begins with Bond being shot and falling into water (which you might recognize from the “Skyfall” trailer). As he lies in the water, his life flashes before his eyes, and by life I mean the plots of five James Bond films: “Goldfinger,” “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” “Moonraker,” “License to Kill” and “Die Another Day.” A sixth, “Skyfall,” is supposed to be released as downloadable content, which hurts the game from the outset. Releasing “Legends” without a section makes it feel unfinished.
That warning sign is a large red flag, and for good reason; the game just doesn’t respect the James Bond license. In the version of “Goldfinger” I played through, I went from feeling excited to relive my favorite Bond film to absolute disgust with the treatment the game gave it. Bond is supposed to be stealthy; he’s a secret agent spy. Problem is, the game’s stealth system absolutely does not work, which turned most of “Goldfinger” into a “Call of Duty” ripoff where Bond leads an Army battalion across Fort Knox.
For those of you who haven’t seen “Goldfinger,” I should probably emphasize that at no point in the film does James Bond, a British spy, lead an Army battalion across Fort Knox. He’s a British secret agent, not a general in “Call of Duty,” and the game’s developers forgot this important fact. The game plays almost exactly like “Call of Duty,” which is infuriating. In the last generation of Bond games including “Nightfire” and “Everything or Nothing,” the games were cohesive. Stealth and action had their own separate aspects, and they combined well to create a fun experience. Instead, “Legends” blatantly copies the popular games of today instead of taking a chance with an original idea.
In “007: Legends,” the developers have taken a “Call of Duty” shell and tried to apply stealth to it. But when developers are aping a popular game that doesn’t account for stealth, the game won’t react well as it was never intended to account for stealth in the first place. This kind of mismatch happened with 2008’s “Quantum of Solace,” which was a “Gears of War” clone. But “Legends” is a much worse misstep for the franchise than that one; it feels old, bland and an inferior clone of a superior product.