A month ago, when publisher Activision announced 007 Legends, a first-person shooter incorporating six of secret agent James Bond's greatest missions (including Skyfall, the upcoming film), the potential seemed endless. People immediately started making up their wish lists and then sat back, fingers crossed, and waited for their dreams to come true.
Cut to this week, when Activision revealed the first of Bond's "greatest hits": Moonraker.
Granted, we can't really expect the makers of Legends to lead with the big guns. They do have to save something for the Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show in a couple weeks, after all. But still…Moonraker? Really?
In an unscientific poll I conducted among my feelings and emotions, Moonraker ranks somewhere between "accidentally sitting on my balls" and "watching puppies get run over." It's a cheesy, stupid film, a low point for the franchise in which the filmmakers tried too late to cash in on Star Wars and ended up with a ridiculous farce in which a maniac tries to eradicate the entire human race with space lasers and replace them with people who look like they were kicked out of the auditions for Blue Lagoon for being too stupid.
Basically, I'm not a fan.
I'm sure the other movies in the game will be better than Moonraker (they'd have to be; science says so), but I have a crazy section of my brain that heard that announcement and wondered what would happen if Eurocom (the developer of Legends) allowed Moonraker to set the pace for the rest of their selections. What I ended up with might be the most terrible licensed game ever made, which is saying something in a world in which Charlie's Angels exists.
Let's see how bad the last four choices can get.
Bad choice 1: Octopussy
Octopussy represents everything that was stale and horrible about Roger Moore's run as James Bond, not the least of which is a title that is impossible to say without cringing unless you have just emptied an entire can of Axe body spray into your mouth. The gadgets are ridiculous, the script contains so much sexism that it feels like the screenwriters had gotten a bulk deal on the stuff, and at one point, Bond puts on a gorilla suit.
That's not a cute nickname for a clever Q device, either. I'm talking about a real-ass suit in the shape of a gorilla.
What I'm saying is that Octopussy hates you for watching it.
Imagine the possibilities in Legends. The developers could use that gorilla suit (and, later, a clown costume; I forgot about the clown costume because it saddens and frightens me) to shoehorn some stealth into the game. Everyone loves a forced stealth level in their FPSes, right? Plus, you could press a button at a key moment and make Bond do a Tarzan yell, because that was another thing that this movie does to its viewers.
Bad choice 2: You Only Live Twice
I like Roald Dahl a lot. I read The Witches so many times when I was in the third grade that my teacher brought it up to my parents at conferences out of concern that I was, in some way, "satanic." True story. Even now, I admire Dahl's clever rhymes and insane characters, even if I couldn't help but notice even at the age of nine that he sure did have a problem with fat people. But still, I liked Roald Dahl and everything he wrote.
That is, until he wrote You Only Live Twice, in which he has James Bond disguise himself as a Japanese person and invents the instantly ridiculous Volcano Lair.
Since Legends takes place from a first-person perspective, it would be hard to achieve maximum offensiveness with Bond's race drag in this one. Maybe when he talks, he could sound like Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Bad choice 3: Never Say Never Again
Yeah, I know. Never Say Never Again isn't even canonical. It stands zero chance of ending up in 007 Legends because EON didn't even produce it. But that's also why it would be perfect for this nightmare version of the game. It's a horrible remake of Thunderball, which is one of the best films in the Bond series. Imagine playing through something that is just enough like Thunderball to make you think of Thunderball, but without all of that quality to make you actually enjoy yourself.
And while we're blatatntly disregarding canon:
Bad Choice 4: Casino Royale
No…not 2006's Casino Royale, which made the series good again after Die Another Day ruined it with its invisible car and unlistenable Madonna song. I'm talking about the 1967 parody, which is still one of the most glorious train wrecks in film history. That movie had 11 screenwriters and nine directors, which works out mathematically to zero jokes. Someone will have to check my work, though; I think an asymptote may be involved.
The premise of this movie is that James Bond, in an attempt to throw off the bad guys, has six other people designated as "James Bond," and that's not even counting Woody Allen's character, Jimmy Bond. Meanwhile, Orson Welles shows up to play baccarat, and Peter O'Toole is HOLY SHIT I'M SO ANGRY NOW.
What would this mean for Legends? To get the true Casino Royale experience, Eurocom would have to let everyone in their office have a go at designing a section of the level, including the disgruntled interns and the guys who only show up when the copier is broken. They'd also have to cram in as many tired jokes as they possibly can in the name of comedy, which means that the harder they try, the worse it will get until they end up with something that makes Duke Nukem Forever look like Portal 2.
I'm still optimistic for 007 Legends; plenty of excellent Bond movies haven't been given the game treatment yet, and I think it's time that they get their due. I just hope that Moonraker is the exception and not a dark harbinger of what is to come.