Review: James Bond 007: Blood Stone
James Bond 007: Blood Stone is the next entry in a ridiculously long list of 007 titles. The franchise is in desperate need of a kick up the backside, but is Blood Stone the game to do it?
- Worth The Time?Yes, to Bond fans, although it probably won't give you more than an afternoon or day's worth of play.
- Things LovedThe power of Danny Craig, the flashy and awesome takedowns, the various exhilerating action sequences.
- Things HatedThe graphically under-par cutscenes compared to the rest of the game, the extreme repetitiveness, the very limited gameplay and tacked on multiplayer.
- RecommendationThere is definitely fun to be had here, but at the end of the day even the Bond fans probably won't get more than an afternoon or day's worth of play out of this one. Avoid paying full price for it. If you're interested, go for second hand or the bargain bin.
- Name: James Bond 007: Blood Stone
- Genre: Third Person Shooter
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: Offline LAN, Online (16 players)
- Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox360, DS
- Developer: Bizarre Creations (PS3, 360), High Moon Studios (PC)
- Publisher: Activision
- Price: R546-599 (PS3, 360), R364-399 (PC)
- Reviewed On: PC, PS3
Blood Stone is a James Bond title that has chosen the high road, in that it’s not tied to any movie, but has instead taken the liberty of becoming a stand-alone game with only the faces of Danny Craig and M to keep things in the business of Bond. It’s one of the very few Bond titles to have an original story, and perhaps this is what may draw fans to it beyond the unstoppable Danny Craig and 007 name tag. Essentially, before going any further, it must be understood that Blood Stone has no tie-ins with any previous games or movies, as it’s a completely original game.
With regards to the story, it’s more or less what you’d expect from James Bond, except the unfortunate part is that it doesn’t contain the same vigour or level of excitement as the movies. The reason being is that there are no fancy gadgets, no eccentric or memorable main villain and in all honesty there isn’t much room for being a secret spy, but there is more than enough time for being the war machine we know Danny Craig to be. However, in Blood Stone’s defence, the game does contain a number of exhilarating and tense action scenes, but there are too few of them and they’re all buried beneath redundant and overly basic gameplay, and wave after wave of retarded enemies, because the game chose to adopt the Space Invader’s mentality, over and above the concept of a one-man army, when it comes to your enemies.
As for what the story really is about, it’s nothing overly spectacular, and you’ll basically be pursuing terrorists, who possess biochemical weaponry, across the globe. Your journey will be filled with gun fights, sneaking around, action packed chase scenes, ducking behind cover so that your health may regenerate and using your smartphone to scan objects in the environment, hack security terminals and highlight objectives, enemies and weapons in the area. It’s basically like detective mode from Batman: Arkham Asylum, except the game discourages you from keeping it on permanently by turning the mode off when you use your weapon or causing your screen to distort if you’re running while it’s equipped. The smartphone is unfortunately as close to a gadget as you’re going to get, because the only other tools Bond has available are guns – and his fists. Essentially, going back to the story, despite it containing the ingredients for an action-packed Bond film, it only manages to capture very little of the spirit of the franchise, and this is perhaps due to the lack of usage of the Bond theme, the repetitive and somewhat dull nature of the game and the absent fan service.
Gameplay wise, Blood Stone is your very basic third person cover shooter, and there is nothing here that you won’t be familiar with. Basically, through the roughly six hour main campaign, the majority of your game time will be spent taking down armies of enemies, separated only by few vehicle and platforming sections, cinematic moments and, if you wish it, stealth gameplay, which is fortunate as it allows for a little diversity apart from run and gun rambo tactics. From this you can already conclude that Blood Stone does little to set itself apart from the other generic shooters out there, but of course it does have the name of Bond in its favour. However, it really sticks to the bare minimal, and even paves way for the cliched explosive barrels that litter many environments and almost seem to magnetise your enemies towards them, as they’ll be the first objects your rather stupid foes will run to for cover. The gameplay structure does not change throughout the game, and what you do in the beginning you’ll still be doing at the very end.
One thing to love about Blood Stone are the flashy and brutal takedowns in melee combat. There are a good variety of them, which avoids them becoming repetitive or old, and they fully capture the feeling of being a hand-to-hand combat master, in looks, feel and sound. They are also context sensitive, which means Bond will perform a different animation based on what’s around him in the environment, although admittedly these are limited. These takedowns aren’t just for quick kills, however, as they also serve to build up the Bond adaption of bullet time, named Focus Aim. It’s nothing new really, as each takedown you make gains you a focus kill point, of which you are limited to three, and by utlising these focus points, you’re able to slow down time and speedily pick out enemies in quick succession. It’s not exactly innovative, interesting or essential to the game in any way, and it will practically end up just being a feature you’ll either forget or simply use when available to quickly take out enemies you don’t wish to overload with lead.
As mentioned before, the incentive here to play Blood Stone is naturally the Bond flavour, and at least you’ll be getting that with some of the gameplay, if not in spirit or story. Blood Stone does, however, capture the feeling of being Danny Craig, because you won’t find much difficulty in carrying out your sole purpose of existence in destroying all things even remotely human, even if they have machine guns and you have only your fists. The highlights of the game are definitely the exciting chase scenes and odd chaotic level, but as mentioned before there are far too little of them, and in the end perhaps the real reason they stand out so much in the experience is because there just isn’t much else in the game. It’s a sad thing that the game is so limited, because there is actually enjoyment to get out of it in its current state, and it’s clear as you play that there really could have been so much more to this game that could have made it a lot better.
Blood Stone features a multiplayer component, and it’s a curious addition to the game because, while you can have some fun with it for a short while, it feels like it was just tacked on, as if it were a last minute decision. The game has offline LAN, and also online multiplayer, where up to 16 players split up on either the side of M16 or the Mercenaries and then proceed to engage in fisticuffs and gun battles in order to kill each other. Online, you’ll be able to play ranked matches, create your own private game, view your profile stats, check the online leaderboards and customise your agent’s weapon loadout, choosing from a range of pistols, shotguns, SMGs, rifles and snipers. There are quite a number of weapons to unlock, and you’ll have to earn experience in games in order to level up your rank and acquire them.
There are only three modes to play online, all of which are team-based, namely Team Deathmatch, Objective and Last Man Standing. The Objective mode just has two teams against each other, one as the attackers and the other as the defenders, and there are a set of objectives to complete in order to win. Last Man Standing is basically Team Deathmatch except everyone only gets one life, so once someone dies they’re out for the rest of the round. It’s pretty standard, and there isn’t much depth or excitement with the multiplayer, which will most likely lead you to throw this game away after an hour or two of it. It’s a greater pity that the vehicles were not incorporated into the multiplayer to make for any exciting modes, and all you’ll be getting are more gun fights, of which you get more than enough of in the main campaign.
When it comes to graphics, Blood Stone can actually be pretty decent, but unfortunately is overall a mixed bag. There are some impressive sections in the game, visually, especially during the intense vehicle chases, but for the most part the game will be bland and under par compared to the standard of today. The sore point is perhaps the game’s cutscenes, which look considerably worse than the in-game graphics. The game is functional, and doesn’t have much wrong with it on a technical level, but it does become the victim when it comes to audio and theme. The reason is because the Bond theme isn’t used all that often and aside from the signature intro the game doesn’t really go out of its way to be a James Bond experience, but more like a standard action game. However, the voice acting is good and the sound work is of a decent standard, but it’s just that the theme of Bond wasn’t realised as much as it could have been in the game.
James Bond 007: Blood Stone is not a bad game, but in the end it just feels as though it could have been a lot more than it is right now, and what it is right now is solid, but uninspired. Fundamentally, there is not much that is majorly wrong with this game. It’s just content with being overly basic, extremely limited and simply unremarkable. To put this into perspective, it sticks to playing it safe, only repeating what countless games have done before and have done better. It’s fun and Bond fans will enjoy it, but it would be best to avoid paying the full price for it.