James Bond 007: Blood Stone Review
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Blood Stone puts the world's favorite spy in a series of action and chase sequences that are exhilarating, but sadly they aren't enough to save this otherwise flat title.
- Huge Hollywood-style action sequences
- Driving can feel exciting
- Bond has some brutal takedowns
- Overly formulaic and choreographed segments
- No real gadgets
- Tacked-on multiplayer
More than fifty years ago, Ian Fleming created a fictitious spy who has graced countless novels, movies, and video games. The name 007 conjures up thoughts of bombs concealed inside of pens, ultra-fast sports cars, shaken (not stirred) martinis, sexy Bond girls, classic British actors, and of course, one of the greatest games of all time—GoldenEye 007 for the Nintendo 64. There’s a remake of sorts for that classic game, but it’s only available on the Wii. Instead, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 owners got their semi-regular helping of 007 action in the form of James Bond 007: Blood Stone.
Bizarre Creations’ take on Bond is in line with the modern movies, starring a brutishly-charming Daniel Craig as Bond and Judi Dench as M. Players are drawn into what appears to be a game based on a movie (although there is no actual movie tie-in), and in true Bond nature, you’ll silently take down waves of enemies with a silenced gun, speed through busy streets as cars explode and helicopters try and shoot you, and use your brute force to smash mindless combatants’ heads against the wall. The concept is familiar like pumpkin pie, but is executed like pumpkin sorbet—while it tastes odd, you can’t help but give a little credit for trying.
The game kicks off in true Bond movie style. M discovers an attempt to kill leaders of the G20 Summit, and Bond is immediately in pursuit. He lands on the terrorist’s yacht, and after learning the game’s basic mechanics—duck and cover, slowly taking down enemies with stealth moves—you have to pursue the “boss” in a boat. Predictably, the chase ends with big explosions and the world's leaders safe. The game should be over here, right? Nope, there’s another eight hours or so in the single-player campaign that mindlessly take you across the world looking for some super boss. At the end of each level, you think you finally caught the big bad guy, but as it turns out your princess is in another castle. And so, you truck on.
For a third-person stealth action game, Blood Stone isn't terrible, but it's certainly not unique. But the game has more than just stealth combat; it’s filled with chase sequences that are equally thrilling and extremely frustrating. How can driving a fast car or boat in pursuit of an enemy be both thrilling and frustrating? Simple: each sequence is filled with epic explosions that make you feel like you’re at the cinema, while the actual execution is excruciatingly difficult at times. The folks at Bizarre Creations know a thing or two about racing games—see Blur or Project Gotham—but that doesn’t mean it’s handled here in a way that is entertaining. Because these driving events are so choreographed, they end up feeling like a chore, almost like you must memorize every little detail, every little rolling car or exploding truck, in order to finally reach your next checkpoint. And, what’s even more frustrating, after you wasted a good 30 minutes trying to memorize that specific course, the boss you were chasing gets away. Moments like these keep Blood Stone from shining.
Driving isn’t the only part of the game that feels overly choreographed. For most of the game you’ll sneak around, ducking behind different scenery objects, quickly and quietly eliminating enemies. But there are moments in the game where sneaking around just won’t do, and you’ll actually have to let the lead out. Just as in the driving segments, these moments of high action seem to require very specific reactions from the player; there is very little flexibility in execution. Sure, you can say many games fall victim to this linear model, but for a setting so immersed in awesomeness (after all, the game looks like a Bond movie), we’d expect more ways to eliminate enemies, new tactics at each level, and a little freedom to snap a neck or two, or use some freaky spy tool to blow ... (continued on next page)
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