Fueled by Daniel Craig's no-nonsense take on the British secret agent, Blood Stone's 100% Bond. Unfortunately, forgettable gameplay reduces it to an average third-person shooter with a pretty 007 paintjob.
- Cinematic action worthy of Bond license
- More gritty Craig than gimmicky Brosnan
- Gameplay is more shallow than a shaken martini
James Bond 007: Blood Stone Review:
While 2008’s Quantum of Solace was the first double-0 outing to feature actor Daniel Craig, developer Treyarch's sub-par third-person shooter failed to capture the essence of his badass take on Bond. So, as a huge fan of the world-saving MI6 agent, I was relieved when Activision turned the tuxedo-sporting super spy over to Bizarre Creations for a much needed reboot.
Given their Project Gotham Racing, Blur and The Club pedigree, I eagerly anticipated the opportunity to renew my license to kill. Sadly, my expectations may have been set too high, as James Bond 007: Blood Stone, while an improvement over QoS, falls short of the brand spanking new Bond I was hoping for.
Bond. James Bond.
There’s no question the game captures Craig’s brutal, simmering style. Complemented by motion capture work by the actor’s stunt double, Craig’s voice-over, and a convincing character model, the on-screen spy looks and sounds like the real deal. The fast-paced gameplay, supported by highly cinematic action, further puts you in Bond’s globe-trotting shoes.
Shooting and melee is blended seamlessly, allowing players to snap necks and unload clips in the blink of an eye. Additionally, a decent duck-and-cover system fuels the action with cornering, switching, blind-firing and vaulting moves. Stringing together combat take-downs, shooting, and cover maneuvers at break-neck speeds definitely puts you in control of Craig’s more relentless, brooding Bond.
However, when this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pace isn’t executed or called for, Blood Stone’s shooting and fighting mechanics reveal their true blah-over-boom nature. For starters, the variety-starved weapon selection lacks weight and balance, and wimpy gunshots barely register above cap gun range. A Focus Aim feature, similar to Splinter Cell: Conviction’s Mark and Execute, injects some variety, allowing players to effortlessly drop multiple goons without breaking a sweat. But despite its slo-mo, cinematic flair, it's really just a style-over-strategy mechanic.
Slick fighting animations are similarly worthy of the silver screen, but also lack any gameplay depth; simply hit the attack button when close to a baddie, and Bond breaks their bones like peanut brittle. Sure, it looks cool, but seasoned action gamers will no doubt miss the refinement and nuance of more sophisticated fisticuffs. Blood Stone's flying elbows and bullets yield plenty of surface seat-of-your-tuxedo-pants thrills, but ultimately feel pretty shallow under their flashy facade.
When you're not busting skulls or popping evildoers like ducks in a shooting gallery, you'll be exercising Bond's notorious lead foot in the cockpit of the expected sporty rides. Given Bizarre's previous pedal-to-the-metal-pleasing efforts, I expected Blood Stone's driving segments to shine brighter than a crotch-aimed laser. But sadly, the behind-the-wheel action similarly suffers from a lack of substantial gameplay.
Beyond holding down the accelerator and occasionally pulling the hand brake, you'll do little more than race through linear paths, hoping to hit the next checkpoint before dying. Set pieces and explosive effects that could put Bruckheimer out of business keep things visually exciting, but it'd be nice to have our thumbs engaged as well as our eyes.
You Only Live Once? Twice?
Blood Stone's presentation is anchored in all the familiar Bond tropes; exotic locales, hot cars, hotter woman, and villains who want to rule the world. This is hardly a criticism. On the contrary, I expect and want his from a Bond-starring action-adventure. Combined with an accurate portrayal of Craig's take-no-s*#t secret agent, and a non film-tied narrative, these elements successfully deliver a playable chapter in the long running espionage film series.
Unfortunately, the developers have taken the interactive movie concept too far, offering plenty of popcorn thrills, but little in the way of satisfying gameplay. Blood Stone's six hour campaign will surely scratch your Bond itch, and its entertaining multi-player modes might even pull you from Halo's and Call of Duty's frontlines for a weekend. But like a pea-shooter painted gold, Blood Stone's more style than substance.