To echo the classic tagline, James Bond is back. As a tie-in to this November’s Skyfall – the 23rd feature film in the 50-year old series adapted from Ian Fleming’s espionage novels – Activision will once again be exercising their license to the Bond video game franchise with 007 Legends. Developed by Eurocom – and incorporating iconic (and playable) villains, state-of-the-art weapons and gadgets, and even Kinect support – Legends branches five past films into an overarching narrative before segueing into Daniel Craig’s latest cinematic outing.
Unfortunately, we don’t yet know which films Legends plans to explore (just that Daniel Craig will likely be filling out the tux). That’s why, while Activision lets the anticipation fester to Die Another Day, we’ve taken the liberty of compiling our own selection. There are 22 to choose from; but we figured we’d start with the very first.
1. Dr. No (1962)
“Tell me, does the toppling of American missiles really compensate for having no hands?”
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the film that started the phenomenon, is there any chance 007 Legends snubs the venerable Dr. No? We won’t say no, but it certainly seems unlikely. While it was considered somewhat avant garde upon its debut, Dr. No was a kickstarter for the spy movie genre that – thanks largely to the Cold War – rocketed to pop culture’s center stage in the early 1960s. More importantly though, it introduced a number of core elements that would later become staples of the James Bond franchise: the gun-barrel opening, the ubiquitous orchestral score, maniacal supervillains, fast cars and faster women, exotic yet lavishly detailed locales tailor-made for epic shootouts. There’s no reason for the game to ignore it. Sure, Casino Royale was the first book in the inaugurating Ian Fleming novel series, but you have to admit: Dr. No’s underground, thermonuclear evil-genius man cave would be an awesome opening act for just about any shooter. Daniel Craig would still get a quality limber-up for his quasi-Bourne martial artistry, and the romantic chemistry between Bond and Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) was brilliant – should Legends choose to go there with Craig and/or potential Skyfall romances Naomie Harris and Bérénice Marlohe.
2. Goldfinger (1964)
“Man has climbed Mount Everest, gone to the bottom of the ocean. He’s fired rockets at the Moon, split the atom, achieved miracles in every field of human endeavor… except crime!”
Despite being second in line to Cary Grant before the casting of Dr. No, future People Magazine Sexiest Man of the Century and now-third time 007 Sean Connery was a bonafide star by the time Goldfinger rolled around. Fortunately for the series, the best was yet to come.
Much like Dr. No’s prescription for success, Goldfinger has a killer setting among the gold and granite of Fort Knox. It also has Bond cross egos with franchise alpha-villain, Auric Goldfinger, and one of cinema’s most unabashed double entendres, circus pilot Pussy Galore. Furthermore, we’d be remiss if we overlooked the shifty Oddjob – whose miniature stature and flying guillotine-brimmed Bowler hat made him the franchise’s first indelible evil sidekick (He’d later be known as a multiplayer menace in Goldenye 64 who just might have helped originate the rage-quit). Brimming with action in the air and on the ground, the film is the first to truly kindle Bond’s love with the latest Aston Martin supercars and a host of mindblowing gadgets from Q’s lab. Both are almost a lock for Legends, and neither would feel out of place amid one of 007’s most entertaining adventures.
3. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
“A gun and a bag of peanuts, how original. What will they think of next?”
Starring in his second Bond role, Roger Moore was easily en route to surpassing George “Somebody save me from Sean Connery’s shadow” Lazenby on the 007 hierarchy. Perhaps the liberating vibe was a detriment to The Man With The Golden Gun – many discerning critics found it a bit too cornball, even for a Bond film. Fortunately, none of that matters for its fantastic premise and for what we want to see in 007 Legends. Case in point: world-class assassin Francisco Scaramanga.
Now for most evil villains, having a third nipple would be a secret only known to their soon-to-be-discarded mistress and pet Persian cat. For the eccentric Scaramanga, however, the anatomic abnormality is worn like a badge of honor. With a private tropical island, a gun that fires golden bullets, and a fixation on hunting the Most Dangerous Game, he’s just the right brand of crazy to have a hankering for Bond’s head. The upcoming Skyfall is known to rehash some aspect of M’s past, and it’s not unreasonable for Legends to place Scaramanga – a man of enormous wealth and connections – right in the middle of it (not to mention his portrayer, Christopher Lee, is still in the voice acting business and pretty good at 91). Toss in flying cars, a karate brawl at a Bangkok dojo, and an usurpy midget servant, and TMWTGG is definitely worth exploring. Just leave the sound effects to the pros.
4. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
“The distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.”
For those who already think the Pierce Brosnan era of Bond was far too short-lived, the idea of Daniel Craig taking yet another role from the star can be quite the Martini stir. But then you’d be missing out. Tomorrow Never Dies was a seminal addition to the overarching 007 narrative because it fully embraced the fast-paced action movie conventions of its day to create a hardened, pulse-pounding thrill ride that – much like TMWTGG – passes the Legends test on potential alone.
Beginning to end was a nonstop thoroughfare of explosive Call of Duty-style firefights, chases that blended shooting a la Grand Theft Auto, virtuoso melee fighting/gadget play right at home in Arkham City, and settings like a stealth ship with a nuke in the center that scream Team Deathmatch map. The only downtime in between the action was spent propounding the world domination aspirations of media mogul Eliot Carver, in a backstory imbued with a heap of political tension that could easily trickle over into Skyfall. As far as felonious henchmen are concerned, Ivan Drago-doppelganger Mr. Stamper is the sadomasochist from hell, who’s still looking to break the all-time 52-hour human torturing record set by his mentor, Dr. Kaufman – and there’d be a vengeful aura added to any rendezvous made with Bond. Yes, there was already a TND video game made for the PlayStation back in 1999 – but there’s a reason you’d forgotten about it until we just mentioned it. We apologize. And here’s to hoping Legends gives it the deserved treatment.
5. Quantum of Solace (2008)
“I think you’re so blinded by inconsolable rage that you don’t care who you hurt. When you can’t tell your friends from your enemies, it’s time to go.”
The modernist’s James Bond: Stone-faced. Steadfast. Coldblooded. The quintessential Man on a Mission. Like him or hate him in Quantum of Solace, he’s inexorably tied to Daniel Craig’s persona – meaning that he’s likely not going anywhere despite Sam Mendes taking over at the helm of Skyfall.
You’d be right in thinking that Activision released a game for the film back in 2008, but there’s just one quandary with that particular Quantum of Solace: 80% of it never actually covered, you know, Quantum of Solace. It was essentially 2006’s Casino Royale, with a fleeting realization of the QoS script lasting no longer than the film itself (and we’ll spare mentioning the game’s quality). Thus, it left a heap of untapped potential in what could construct a vital bridge to Skyfall (considering we launched the real film’s “standalone narrative” premise into orbit with Legends’ unveiling). At its fingertips were a) chase scenes with supercars on a winding mountainside, speedboats in a crowded harbor, and a giant cargo plane over the skies of Bolivia; b) the ensuing perilous free-fall from said plane; and c) a highwire rooftop/scaffolding pursuit that turned Bond into Ezio Auditore. Yet the QoS game only fleshed out the latter. And there’s so much room for more. The fact that Craig barely drummed up a love interest would only help the storyline here too – it’d lend a unique layer to Legends to see him evolve a relationship over the six tethered plots.
Even with Goldeneye and From Russia with Love receiving full-fledged gaming adaptions in recent years, there’s a staggering list of Bond pictures to choose from. What films, characters, or vintage settings do you think deserve recognition in 007 Legends? How would you like to see the final game turn out? Be sure to let us know!
007 Legends releases October 16, 2012 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
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