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James Bond 007: Blood Stone


The likeness of Daniel Craig is having a heck of a week in James Bond's games. Over on the Wii, he's booted out the likeness of Pierce Brosnan to take over the lead in Goldeneye and he's got his own original adventure over on the XBox 360, Playstation 3 and PC in the form of James Bond 007: Blood Stone. There's no specific tie-in into the events after Quantum of Solace, basically an entirely new adventure for Bond to race though guns blazing. The narrative is centered around the threat of a possible biochemical terror attack and takes Bond to various locales around the world. Daniel Craig lends his voice to Bond (of course) and Judi Dench returns as the always informative M. Joss Stone (popular vocalist) voices the main Bond girl in the game as well. The developer is Bizarre Creations, makers of the Project Gotham Racing series, thus I have high hopes for any racing interludes in Bond's favorite Aston Martin.

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At the core, this is a third person shooter without all the fancy Bond gadgets to distract you from the fast paced action. It's very much like Casino Royale (in relation to stripping the crazy gizmos away from the character) and you can see the influence of that movie in the occasionally slower pacing of the story. The game uses a cover system to travel though the levels. You basically move Bond from cover spot to cover spot and pop out to take out the angry henchmen. There's a focus system in place that allows you to take multiple head shots in succession and this meter is replenished as you travel through the levels. If you are good with aiming, try upping the difficulty setting and the auto-aiming function will be reduced greatly.

One area of the gameplay that disappointed me was the scripted nature of the car chases. It's odd that Bizarre Creations would do for scripted events during the chases rather than allowing a more free form approach from their PGR days. An approach of guess and check is required to get through the chases as the level doesn't change on multiple playthroughs. It's disheartening that the developer didn't give enough credit to the competence of the player to allow them to take the car off jumps or decide when to zip between speeding traffic safely. However, the car chases definitely up the intensity of the story.

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Bond has a super spy mode that he can turn on, very similar to Bruce's inate detective abilities in Batman: Arkham Asylum. You can spot upcoming enemies with this vision mode, very helpful for figuring out what's around the next corner. You can also determine the current status of the enemies, figure out your next objective point or scan objects for more intel. Bond's smart phone is the only gadget that you will be carrying around through the levels. Otherwise, you will be switching between an assortment of arms including pistols, machine guns, shotguns ans assault rifles. Enemy A.I. isn't particularly tough to take out, but there are moments where Bond feels slightly outnumbered.

Beyond the single player campaign, there are a few mutliplayer modes to check out complete with the leveling system made popular in the Modern Warfare games. You can complete in standard deathmatches or team deathmatches as well as an objective mode that pits spies versus mercenaries. There's nothing here that's particularly innovative though and the online player base is pretty small at this point. That being said, the matches that I did participate in were without any major lag issues.

james bond blood stone car chase

Graphics

  • Visually, the graphics seemed to be a step behind most current third person shooters. While the engine will scale nicely on older computers, there's not a ton of eye candy to be found in the game. However, the car chase sequences definitely looked good in high definition, exactly what you would expect from Bizarre. Some of the more exotic environments are really quite detailed as well; there's just little time to take a look around when you are escaping gunfire. I didn't have any framerate issues on my PC or my 2 year old laptop (although I did scale back on the resolution a bit). I also didn't run into any problems with clipping or object detection when firing my weapons either.

Audio

  • Again, you can hear the influence of Casino Royale in the musical choices. The low key orchestral music not only nails the Bond theme, but the general feeling of Bond's journey. Bizarre Creations and Ricard Jacques did an excellent job with the pacing of the music during the appropriate breaks in the action. Joss Stone's "I'll Take It All" as the main Bond theme wasn't my favorite Bond opener, but it was up to par with some of the Brosnan theme openers. Craig's voice work didn't seem particularly energetic, but Judi Dench's M was spot on as usual. The sound effects worked as well, nothing overly exciting though.

Conclusion

One of the biggest problems with the game is its length, clocking in at about 4 to 6 hours depending on your difficulty preferences. Mix that with a minimalistic multiplayer mode and we have a recipe for a weekend rental rather than a purchase, even though the fact paced action and naturally entertaining story are worth a playthrough for any true fan of Bond. I really enjoyed the ride while it lasted, but anyone that shells out full MSRP is going to feel jilted after the credits roll. Also, those that are looking for a more outlandish Bond experience is going to be disappointed with the more straightforward, realistic approach of Blood Stone.



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