Did you know it’s been seven years since the last James Bond video game, 007 Legends? The final Bond game from Activision was a 50th anniversary Skyfall tie-in that presented the events of Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Moonraker, Licence to Kill and Die Another Day in the post-Casino Royale/Quantum of Solace continuity of Daniel Craig’s 007 — and it was absolutely dreadful, garnering an average score of 45/100 on Metacritic, a sad, sad end to the Bond legacy in video games as of today.
To be honest though, I was never the biggest fan of the Bond games: they always overemphasised the shooting and driving aspects of the films at the expense of everything else. GoldenEye 007 may have been an iconic first-person shooter, but it shouldn’t have been the template for every Bond game: I wanted an entry I could keep instead of rent, where you can truly feel like Bond and wallow in and enjoy exotic locations; gamble, drink, dine and swim at hotels; train with weapons and martial arts at Q branch; or customise watches, pistols, knives, cars, and clothing.
Telltale Games president and co-founder Kevin Bruner agreed, saying in 2014 (a little over a year after 007 Legends’ release) he’d love to make a Bond game if given a chance. "I'm a giant James Bond fan and I'm always frustrated by games that make him a mass murderer," he said. "He's a super-spy, and that's a different skillset. The films make him less of a mass murderer, and there's not much killing in the books – more spying and intrigue."
With their story-based adventure games that emphasised morally murky decisions over shoot-and-run gameplay, Telltale seemed like a perfect developer to bring the spirit of Ian Fleming’s books to games. Alas, Bruner left Telltale in 2017, and the company went bankrupt the following year, meaning there won’t be a Bond game with the developers who made their name a byword for quality storytelling anytime soon. But surely another studio wants to pick up the license?
Perhaps part of the issue is that game developers would rather mimic Bond, often in their own IPs: you can see the series’ influence everywhere, from the action/adventure and globetrotting of Naughty Dog’s Uncharted; to the mission structure and romances of BioWare’s Mass Effect; the stealth and gadgets of Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid; the weapons and vehicles in Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto; the diving in CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt; and the skiing in Ubisoft’s Steep:
Still, is it too much to ask for someone to show Ian Fleming Publications or Eon Productions recent licensed games like Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham trilogy, or Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man? Bond similarly deserves a game that won’t be rushed out to coincide with a film release, from a studio that truly loves and understands the source material, and become widely praised by fans and players as the definitive virtual take on the character.
If nothing else, why hasn’t there been a LEGO James Bond game? Take the most iconic sets from the first dozen or so films — from Blofeld’s volcano base to Stormberg’s aquatic palace — and add the most famous vehicles, characters and gadgets (including every version of Bond), and you’ve got the ingredients for a game worthy of the best LEGO entries. Concerned adults should note there was a LEGO Indiana Jones game, and it’s not like those films didn’t have sex scenes — besides, there’s already a LEGO Bond set. If only Roger Moore were still with us: like Adam West or Stan Lee in the DC and Marvel entries, he’d have been perfect as the hidden character you have to rescue in every level.
Hopefully, we’ll hear more rumblings as No Time to Die’s release approaches and the memory of Activision’s releases fade, further prompting others to ask the question: where is the bloody new game, 007?