Blood Stone 007 Xbox 360 Review

November 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Features, Reviews, Xbox 360

Publisher – Activision – Developer – Bizarre Creations – Genre –  Action – Players – 1-16 – Age Rating – 16+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3, DS

Due to MGM’s financial woes, the James Bond film franchise was placed on hold, but that hasn’t stopped game licence holder Activision in making games based on the super spy. Indeed, not only has the publisher released a single Bond game, but they released two on the very same day: GoldenEye 007 being a reimagining of the N64 classic for the Wii, while Blood Stone 007 is a brand new third person game featuring the British secret agent.

You could say that, at least for us Bond fans who also play games as well, Blood Stone is sort of filling an empty void that the absence of a film has left. The game stars a virtual Daniel Craig, complete with authentic likeness and the actual voice of the actor, and has a fair chunk of play before the stylish credits sequence kicks in accompanied by an exclusive song performed by Joss Stone, whom also virtually appears in the game as a rich socialite.

Bruce Feirstein’s story is unsurprisingly very Bond-like, although it can be a little hard to follow at times. There are a fair number of characters and plenty of twists and turns, so much so that it’s hard to keep up with it all, although just be thankful that it gives you the opportunity to drive cars very fast, journey across the globe to varied environments and to blow stuff up. My heart was certainly content.

Gadgets are few, although Bond does have a mobile phone which can display the positions and movement of enemies. Said phone can also hack computers and cameras with a simple button pressing mini game.

You’ll be stealthily running about a boat, exchanging lead with enemies, driving a speedboat and finishing up in a car, and all this happens before the opening credits sequence has even begun. Developer Bizarre Creations have certainly gone all out to assure that this does actually feel like an interactive Bond film. Cinematic Bond might be asleep, although virtual Bond is very much awake and, with Blood Stone 007, you’ll certainly know it.

There’s certainly a very fluid feeling in regards to slipping in and out of cover with ease and taking enemies down with not only firearms, but Bond’s lethal body as well. The cover system works a treat: switching to opposite cover with a single button tap, cornering by holding the A button down and the direction that you are wanting Bond to go in, and you also have your more inaccurate blind-fire, which removes the cross-hair and, with it, the potential to overly make use of firing without having to pop yourself out into danger to make yourself a larger target, and what would a Bond game be without a sense of danger?

But we all also know that modern day Bond is a lethal killer, and if you manage to get close to an adversary it’s possible to press a single button to take them down. Some of these animations are just downright nasty: bashing heads against objects, throwing breathing bodies off ledges, breaking limbs and necks with Bond’s skilled body and more. They’re very well animated, but I did wonder why Bizarre couldn’t have implemented a proper fighting system as well. The only time we see Bond have a proper fight is on the cut-scenes, which is rather cruel, but what’s in there is satisfying enough.

The shooting feels just as satisfying, although the enemy AI is at times flaky – they sometimes approach areas where they know you are positioned, allowing you to take them down and they even stand out in the open at times, seemingly asking you to fill their bodies with lead. Those who have played Splinter Cell Conviction will probably find the Focus Aim feature to be quite familiar, it’s certainly very similar to Sam Fisher’s Mark & Execute ability. You earn it in the same way by taking down enemies, although there’s a key difference in that you don’t have to mark enemies before Bond fires off a shot. You basically hold a button down and he’ll automatically aim at the enemy you’re pointing at – holding the button down will allow you to string Focus Aims together just as long as you have enough of them, with it being possible to take down three enemies in quick and efficient succession. It’s a nice feature and a godsend if you are wanting to get rid of rocket launcher wielding villains as quickly as possible, and certainly comes in very handy on the challenging 007 difficulty.

The final facet of the game is the driving. No, this doesn’t feel a thing like Project Gotham Racing if you’re wondering, although driving stages are thrilling and action packed. Vehicles are easy to handle, fast and a joy to drive, although there’s certainly some trial and error in a few of them. There’s a lengthy driving stage in Siberia which I had a little bit of difficulty with, although it’s certainly one of the most exciting portions of the game. Sadly, being the more realistic Daniel Craig era, Bond’s vehicles are without any inventive gadgets and any shooting comes in the form of pressing A when there’s a target across an enemy, which happens in a cinematic manner but is quite unsatisfying as far as a gameplay aspect goes.

Vehicles are varied, although they do all feel pretty much the same to drive.

There’s much to like about the single player mode, although it does have to come to an end eventually and it only lasts about five or six hours. This is where the multiplayer mode for up to 16 players comes in, which can be played via System Link or online. There are three modes: Team Deathmatch, Last Man Standing and Objective. There’s little invention and not really any sense that you are playing a Bond game in any of the modes, although the multiplayer is fun enough for what it is. The major concern is that there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of people playing right now, but I do think that Call of Duty: Black Ops may be the game that a lot of folk are taking online right now.

Visually, Blood Stone looks very nice with its detailed character models (particularly the in-game virtual recreation of Daniel Craig), the massive explosions and the fluid takedown animations. Sound wise, the voice acting is pretty good, although some of Daniel Craig’s lines sound a little off and even as if the actor was a little bored in the recording studio. Richard Jacque’s music, however, is brilliant and wouldn’t be out of place in a modern day Bond movie, matching each scene and adding to the excitement perfectly. Activision have seemingly spared no expense in these two important areas.

Bizarre Creations shooter is a thrilling Bond game with much to like. There’s lots of action, driving and even some quieter stealth sections, it’s just a shame that it all has to come to an end so abruptly and that a little more variety wasn’t thrown in – we all know that Bond is capable of many different things, and in such a game we want to be doing all of these things as opposed to watching them. The multiplayer is also a little underpopulated right now and could have benefited from feeling more Bond-like. But, regardless of these downers and due to their successes with Blood Stone 007, I would certainly very much approve of it if Activision were to give Bizarre Creations the assignment of developing another Bond game.

8/10

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