Will 007 Legends be the forgotten FPS of 2012?
In an FPS-heavy 2012, not every shooter will be able to dominate the limelight in the way their respective developers & publishers would hope. With Halo & Call of Duty both looming on the horizon with new releases, we take a look at Eurocom’s upcoming James Bond shooter 007 Legends and discuss what could be one of this year’s most unique but overshadowed FPS experiences.
This year, the gaming industry is set to unleash a huge roster of upcoming shooters upon the world. Twenty-twelve sees the first chronological sequel in the Halo series for five years in the form of 343 Industries’ Halo 4, as well as the much anticipated ‘role-playing shooter’ sequel Borderlands 2 from developer Gearbox. We’ve got the obligatory annual Call of Duty instalment in the guise of Black Ops 2 and the much hyped new IP Dishonored from Arkane Studios. These four titles alone have fans frothing at the lips with glee, but will their dominant presence overshadow the release of other fellow shooters?
One such title that’s struggling for air against this tide of AAA behemoths is Eurocom’s new instalment to its Daniel Craig-centric James Bond FPS franchise 007 Legends. The sequel to 2010s Goldeneye 007 (and it’s much prettier HD version Goldeneye: Reloaded released on Xbox 360 & PlayStation 3 a year later) will combine six classic adventures from Bond’s fifty years on the silver screen as well as seventh mission based on the new Bond flick Skyfall. Like its predecessor, 007 Legends will drop the original versions of 007 in favour of a modern reimagining with Daniel Craig as the iconic superspy.
A History of Espionage
Since Rare’s fondly remembered Goldeneye 64, James Bond appearance in video games has been something of a downward spiral. After the ultimately broken third-person shooter Tomorrow Never Dies & the mixed versions of The World Is Not Enough on PlayStation One, EA revived the licence back on the PlayStation 2 with Agent Under Fire & Nightfire; both of which kept the FPS format but opted for new, original stories rather than adapting a current or classic film. With 007: Everything & Nothing in 2004 developer EA Redwood Shores managed to surprise everyone with an authentic, well balanced third-person action adventure that not only had a full voice cast but was a fun & engaging original story for the franchise.
Sadly the licence took a turn for the worst when EA decided to cash in on the nostalgic popularity of the Goldeneye name. Dropping everything but the name, Goldeneye: Rogue Agent let you play as a mercenary with a ‘golden eye’ (geddit?) who is drafted into a mini war between the classic 007 villains such as Auric Goldfinger and Dr No. Whilst the actual gameplay was actually pretty sound, the clear bastardisation of the licence and the significant lack of James Bond himself made this an aborted bad taste in the mouth of FPS gamers and Bond fans alike.
“Deciding to bravely (read: somewhat crazily) attempt a remake of the now thirteen year-old Goldeneye 64, publisher Activision hoped to recapture some of the magic surrounding that much-revered name”
On the current gen of consoles things have been a little brighter. Treyarch’s Quantum of Solace may have boasted a broken multiplayer experience but its full voice cast, use of third-person cover mechanics and intense FPS action made the single player campaign a genuinely fun Bond escapade. James Bond Bloodstone 007 may have done the usual third-person switcharooney in 2010, but it gave players a competent mix of melee attacks and shoot-out mechanics. Coming from the late great Bizarre Creations the driving sections were also a break-neck thrill ride but were sadly few and far between in the story. Again based on an original story, Bloodstone was a clear attempt to emulate the success of ultra-violent titles such as Splinter Cell Conviction and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Sadly whilst it was a slick looking package, the games cover and shooting mechanics were nothing special and it performed woefully in sales.
The Eurocom Years
With MGM in financial meltdown and the Bond franchise itself now in forced hiatus, Activision decided to still use Daniel Craig’s contractual obligations to the franchise to develop another Bond-based video game adventure. Deciding to bravely (read: somewhat crazily) attempt a remake of the now thirteen year-old Goldeneye 64, publisher Activision hoped to recapture some of the magic surrounding that much-revered name.
“The slick game engine from Goldeneye Reloaded returns with a tune up and in places 007 Legends looks better than Activision’s upcoming cash cow Call of Duty Black Ops 2″
To set themselves apart, Eurocom decided to a) reimagine the storyline in a modern setting and b) release it as a Wii exclusive. Despite releasing on a non-HD console the game was still a fun shooter with a decent enough update of the original narrative to create a nostalgic mix of classic set-pieces and new locales. Even with a ‘gold’ controller to boot the Wii version sold respectfully enough to warrant a HD rez-up onto the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. On these FPS-heavy consoles Eurocom’s Goldeneye Reloaded (as it was fashioned) was a great looking shooter with a recognisable franchise. But with the presence of Battlefield 3, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 & Halo Reach, Goldeneye Reloaded was a decent shooter lost to a crowded genre of louder and more refined comrades.
History Repeating for 007?
So after over two years of development can Eurocom & Activision do enough to stand out in a genre thick with established franchises and powerful new comers? 007 Legends looks and feels like a real step forward for Eurocom and its vision for a modern James Bond shooter. Splitting the game into separate missions with distinctive feels, tones and environments will help 007 Legends avoid the common mid-campaign slump that affects every shooter from Halo to Mirrors Edge. The slick game engine from Goldeneye Reloaded returns with a tune up and in places this game looks better than Activision’s upcoming cash cow Call of Duty Black Ops 2.
Whilst Eurocom have kept details and access to 007 Legends multiplayer under wraps, it will need to be a solid and more importantly fun experience. The multiplayer modes for Goldeneye Reloaded were competent but the maps had a serious last gen look whilst the character models were stiff and characterless, looking and handling more like Counter Strike Source than Call of Duty 4.
To ensure it doesn’t disappear into the background this winter, Eurocom need to deliver an FPS experience that doesn’t use the James Bond licence like an excuse for uncreative or mediocre gameplay. If 007 Legends can sync its single-player campaigns and its multiplayer component into one cohesive package that entices and rewards gamers in the right way then it might just rise out of the ashes of its predecessors and give its fellow 2012 shooters a run for their money.
Will you be picking up Eurocom’s new Bond shooter or are your preorders for Halo 4 & Medal of Honor: Warfighter already ready & waiting? Let us know in the comments!