So, while we won’t be seeing a new James Bond movie to fill the gap from Quantum of Solace for a while, what do have in the mean time? We have two Bond games making their appearance this month other then the re-vamped Goldeneye heading straight for the Wii, and for the consoles we have James Bond: Blood Stone. This is the latest creation from Bizarre Creations from the people who’ve brought you titles like Project Gotham Racing, Blur and even Geometry Wars. Their known for creating great games, but is Blood Stone one of them?
If there’s one thing you can at least attest to Blood Stone is that it’s fun though frustrating at times. Blood Stone begins with a terrorist attack at the G20 summit in Greece and you’re immediately jumped straight into the action. You’ll find the talented Judi Dench reprising her role as M and contacting Daniel Craig’s Bond to stop the evil plot. Once Bond moves in things get hairy, a boat chase ensues and you’re off to the races. Blood Stone certainly achieves its goal of giving us the flavor of a modern day James Bond. There’s plenty of exciting car chases and shooting sequences in between to keep the action moving from scene to scene. There are also some colorful locations you’ll visit around the world including Istanbul, Siberia, Bangkok and others as you track down a invisible villain who is trying to either kill a lot of people with said WMD’s or just trying to get a bunch of diamonds, we’re not quite sure anymore after the cliffhanger finale.
Part of the downside on the game is that we have no Bond gadgetry to get excited about, no Q to tell us what we can and can’t touch. All we are left with is a simple blackberry smart phone with the ability to take out motion detection cameras, and scan for incriminating evidence to our faceless villain. As you switch to the phone during the game it alters the games visuals, which will highlight waypoints, bad guys, and weapons. It harkens back to the incredible detail given to Batman Arkham Asylum’s “Detective Mode”. What makes it worse is that it also puts static on the screen due to overuse and is more of a distraction then being helpful.
The other trick Bond has up his sleeve is that you can pull off “Focus Aim” shots as you earn takedowns. During gameplay you’ll have opportunities to perform melee takedowns and are definitely fun to pull off. These attempts earn you Focus Aim points, which are basically just free automatic headshots. It’s a shame really because Bond is so completely powerful and already accurate as it is with firearms that it’s a pointless feature that you’ll barely use. As I mentioned earlier, there are certainly some thrilling vehicles chases and this is where another downside rolls in. I was greatly frustrated with these sequences in the game, as it was never forgiving. You’ll feel the intense speed and sensations but it never feels like you put any real effort into your driving as you pull up to the next cut scene that does it for you. There are several driving sections that were quite maddening including and frustrating memorization of light cracks on an icy river that induced many deaths by drowning.
While it does sound like I’m putting the game down on many points, there are some bright spots. I found Blood Stone to still be an enjoyable 6-8 hours single player campaign and there’s still plenty to do afterwords. After completing one play through on any difficulty you’ll unlock 007 difficulties and there is also online multiplayer. Richard Jacques has delivered an excellent score to the game bringing to life Bond’s infamous theme song and cover song as well. Bizarre Creations certainly got a lot of things right including its cover-based mechanics as well as its melee potential as it is ever so satisfying to watch Bond beat the living hell out of your enemies.
Finally, online multiplayer is included in this package with several different modes to keep you busy. Some of the game types include team death match, last man standing and an objective based mode, and unfortunately it feels helplessly tacked with not much effort put into this area of the game.
Verdict: James Bond: Blood Stone is an entertaining addition to your library but ultimately isn’t worth its current price tag. It’ll only last you a few hours and easily could be completed in an afternoon’s sitting. Both Bizarre Creations and Activision have invested in areas of the game that aren’t even gameplay related which is a shame really as Blood Stone has some potential if given proper development time and care. There is some nice looking environments and locales along with big action set pieces, and a few standout moments but ultimately not enough to keep you around after the end credits roll.