Itís Been A While
Thanks to MGMís financial trouble we will not be seeing another James Bond film until 2012, and it has already been two years since Quantum of Solace. Activision and Bizarre Creations have stepped up to fill the void with James Bond 007: Blood Stone, an original 007 adventure penned by writer Bruce Feirstein. So grab your crotch-smacking carpet beater and let us see if Bondís latest venture is anything to jump out of your seat for.
The Nameís Bland, James Bland
Oh dear. I had got my hopes up there. Whilst definitely not being the worst Bond game ever made, Blood Stone is certainly the most disappointing. Up until its release, everything seemed to be heading in the right direction for Blood Stone, and it looks gorgeous to boot. The trouble is no one told Activision to make it a good game.
Blood Stone is heavily influenced by this yearís Splinter Cell: Conviction, which gives you some idea of just how quickly this game was knocked together. Oh sure there are plenty of the usual shooting and driving sections we expect from Bond, but a lot of the game is based around utilizing stealth. There is no problem with this slight change except that it is made nearly impossible to maintain a stealthy approach as there is no crouch function. Yes that is correct, there is no actual way to move quietly in the stealth sections, which means that the only way to perform quiet takedowns is from cover, which you have to get to in the first place.
Also taken from Conviction is the Mark & Execute feature which has been renamed to just, Focus. Developers Bizarre Creations obviously thought that two buttons was wasteful, so Focus ignores the first part of the manoeuvre and only copies the Execute part. You press the button, they die. Simple and skill-free. Bizarre also attempts to copy the Detective Mode from Batman: Arkham Asylum and the sonar goggles from the Splinter Cell series also make an appearance. Whereas Batman and Sam Fisher cover their eyes with their respective devices, Bond simply holds his phone in his hand and somehow manages to achieve the same effect. He is not even looking at the damn thing!
If Looks Could Kill
The one thing Blood Stone does have going for it is the lovely graphics. I do not know what engine is running it, but Blood Stone is certainly good to look at. Granted, Daniel Craig looks like Christopher Eccleston and Judi Dench looks dead, but otherwise if you are looking for nothing more than a pretty spectacle, Bizarre has you covered. No matter how linear, painful or utterly ridiculous things get there will always be a moment that puts you on the edge of your seat. These are the moments that thankfully do not make Blood Stone a complete write-off.
The audio is also very good I must admit, with both Craig and Dench slipping into their roles perfectly. They do a much better job than most A-list actors in videogames at least. The music is similarly excellent, perfectly evoking the scores written by David Arnold in the recent Bond films, whilst similarly not going overboard with the iconic theme tune.
So now that is the good out the way. Do you want more of the bad? Of course you do, when a huge company like Activision slip up, it has to exploited!
Good sound and graphics, can be competent occasionally
Bland design, tightly linear levels, poor story, far too short, Joss Stone