Released the same day at the Wii exclusive reimagining of GoldenEye, Blood Stone is an original Bond release that winds up being another basic 3rd person shooter. It is not bad, but it is not spectacular either. It is unknown when the next Bond movie will be released, but Blood Stone acts as a decent fill-in due to the original story and movie-like presentation.
Even though a movie tie-in was not involved, Daniel Craig and Judi Dench make their return as their usual movie counterparts. The story is of typical Bond-fair; 007 is trying to stop some bad guys from using a special weapon that has the potential to do great harm. This plotline requires hand-to-hand combat, a Bond girl, many different locations, gunfights and high speed vehicle chases. Yup, typical Bond stuff.
Bizarre Creations, makers of the popular and highly entertaining Blur and Project Gotham Racing (and Geometry Wars), definitely know how to create a racing game. Strangely enough, Blood Stone’s driving segments are a bigger highlight.
When the player is not driving in a high speed chase, combat is performed Gears of War 3rd person shooter style. The standard cover based mechanic is here – you can cling to walls, pop out from cover to take accurate shots, or can shoot blind inaccurate shots in a general direction. Blood Stone also borrows Splinter Cell: Conviction’s “mark and execute” system. This means for every melee kill that is performed, the player is rewarded with a focus shot that results in an effortless and easy kill. While this focus shot system sounds cool, it really isn’t that necessary as the game has a pretty lenient targeting system to begin with. And thanks to Bond’s health recovery system, Mr. 007 feels almost like a super hero as simply running up to a firing enemy is usually the easiest way to take him down. Being able to run into fire and survive removes a good portion of the game’s challenge and disrupts the balance of gameplay. Only until the last couple levels does Bond get overwhelmed with tons of enemies at once so more care needs to be taken.
Unlike most other Bond games, Blood Stone does not give the player cool gadgets to play with. Instead, a single smart phone is used for just about everything from unlocking doors, entering an alternate vision mode, scanning for intel, and even seeing enemy locations through solid objects. This all-in-one device creates a more streamlined and simpler experience for the player but removes the excitement from using cool items that the Bond series is known for. Apparently, there is an app for everything.
The driving segments in the game standout, but they suffer from being too scripted. Despite having a decent sense of speed, the player is really only allowed to drive within a certain window of proximity. Drive too far behind and you will lose your target and see the restart screen. And thanks to the AI, the player cannot really out drive the enemy no matter how well the driving segment is performed. It just feels like the game decides to end the level and signal the concluding cutscene when it wants too. The driving controls are also a bit touchy and take some getting used too.
Besides the short single player campaign, the multiplayer mode offers only minor replay value. With limited maps and only three modes – deathmatch, last-man-standing, and a CTF style capture point objective, online competitive multiplayer won’t hold your attention for long when there are CoD’s and Halo Reaches to play. Simply put, it is basic 3rd person deathmatch and overall, feels like the multiplayer mode was just tacked on at the end of development. The heavy lag did not help either; it was as if each opponent was using flip book animations for all actions making combat a more random experience.
Blood Stone is a straightforward and plain 3rd person experience and is hard to recommend beyond a weekend rental. But this weekend rental should be an enjoyable one, although shortly lived.
Not As Good As: GoldenEye Wii
Also Try: James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing (GC)
Wait For It: the next Bond movie
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