by Ryan Phillip Hardesty
previewed on X360
Some Serious Talent
Many 007 fans have good reason to be feeling a little down as of late. The next James Bond caper, Bond 23, has been put on hold. The, well, 23rd film in the spycaper series has suffered setback after setback, including production company MGM’s financial troubles and director Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig moving on to other projects. But until that next installment (hopefully) arrives, there’s at least one reason for Bond fans everywhere to rejoice: Blood Stone 007.
Being developed by the UK-based studio Bizarre Creations, the game has started off on a high note by acquiring Daniel Craig to voice the spy himself as well as Dame Judi Dench, voicing her character M, Bond’s boss and the head of MI6, Britain’s intelligence agency. Even Daniel Craig’s stunt double from the films, Ben Cooke, has provided the motion capture for the game. Finally, acclaimed singer Joss Stone joins the roster as Nicole Hunter, a socialite and diamond specialist, while also providing the theme song for the game, “I’ll Take It All”. Hunter will team up with 007 in order to find Professor Malcolm Tedworth, a researcher presumed dead by MI6 but possibly alive somewhere and selling some important bio-chemical technology to the wrong guys. The wrong guys, then, are headed by Greco, a terrorist leader who’s planned a suicide mission against the world’s leaders at a G20 conference. The story itself isn’t being treated as some excuse by a third-rate game writer, either. The script is being penned by Bob Feristein, the man who wrote Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies and The World is Not Enough.
Suave yet Lethal
But with all this star power, the game still needs to include some stellar gameplay. Bizarre, thankfully not coasting solely on Hollywood, seems to be going at this with full force as well. The aspect at the forefront of the game is choice – choice in how you wish to accomplish the goals. Through a third-person perspective, you can decide whether to go in with guns blazing or step back a bit, carefully watching your enemy as you draw out your silencer. The developers have recognized the fact that most gamers, wishing to get the biggest bang for their buck, will take the route that promises the most action. In order to account for that, Bizarre has included the stealth gameplay with a calculated melee system. You’ll sneak up on your opponent and quietly take them down (or out permanently). The takedowns themselves look smooth and manage to fit perfectly within a game of complex and surreal action, and when enough of these maneuvers are executed you’ll unlock Focus Aim, a mode that allows you to do quick headshots. You can acquire up to three charges and, once they’re all spent, you’ll go back to having to perform more takedowns to obtain more of these stylized instakills. The melee mixed-in with the Focus Aim should provide a fluid back-and-forth between the two dominant styles of action, something Bizarre will spread evenly throughout the game.
Fueled and Ready to Go
Not forgetting what is surely an inevitability for a Bond movie at this point, Bizarre will indeed include a number of car chases in Blood Stone. This should induce some serious excitement in anyone who is familiar with the developer’s track record. In the past, Bizarre has spawned a handful of critically acclaimed racing games, notably the Project Gotham racing series as well as their latest production, Blur. For those worried about a possible mishandling when it comes to the integration of racing into an action game, one need only look at Bizarre’s The Club, a revered 2008 action game praised for how smoothly its racing component was mixed in with the rest of the game.
At this point, some may worry that the racing sections will become too dominant, but Bizarre has stated there will actually only be a handful of them in the game. Those chases, however, have been described as “set pieces” by the developers, so even if the racing portions have been scaled back compared to Bizarre’s other games in the past, when it comes time to put the pedal to the metal, it promises to be one hell of a time. One need only take a peek at the chases already included, such as Bond driving an Aston Martin over a partially-frozen river or through a cityscape with a number of goons firing on him from all directions. The racing won’t be restricted to land, either. Bond will slip on his sea shoes for at least one aquatic getaway in which he has to outmaneuver a menacing helicopter after infiltrating a terrorist’s yacht after parachuting in from a plane. It just wouldn’t be a Bond game if it wasn’t for some exaggerated action.
Rounding It Out
With everything noted above, it seems Bizarre truly has a grip on what it takes to create a stellar Bond game. All the racing and gunning mayhem will be spread over five locales: Bangkok, Istanbul, France, Athens and Monaco. Gadgets will also be included in the mix, like a high-tech phone you’ll utilize to search for evidence, weapons and ammo as well as hacking into computers. Lastly, Bizarre hasn’t forgotten about multiplayer: the main focus of which will be a 16-player mercenaries vs. agents mode. The mercenaries will be charged with completing a number of objectives while the agents must do everything to get in their way. While Bizarre hasn’t spoken much on the multiplayer modes, they are aware of how competitive multiplayer has become in the wake of the Modern Warfare and Call of Duty series’, games they’ve stated have forced them to up the ante in Blood Stone. But, given their pedigree and impressive checklist for what makes a 007 game, Bizarre Creations seem like they won’t have a hard time doing so.