Gamescom 2010: James Bond 007: Blood Stone Hands-On PreviewBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Sep 02, 2010
What We Know:
James Bond 007: Blood Stone, the third-person action/driving hybrid title from Project Gotham creators Bizarre Creations, brings to the table an original Bond tale, bone-crushing hand-to-hand combat, and blockbuster-sized driving sequences, all designed to give players the chance to step into the physically fit shoes of Daniel Craig’s interpretation of the world’s most famous spy.
What We’re Seeing Now:
Bizarre Creations has made it a point to make Blood Stone fit comfortably in the Bond universe (exotic locales, gorgeous women, flashy cars, etc.) while at the same time giving it a gritty, contemporary feel in keeping with the brawnier, less nuanced, Craig-era Bond. And it didn’t take long to see this directive in action.
The second level of the game opens with Bond in Istanbul having tracked down a lead to a construction site above an ancient catacomb. After lying to a guard to gain access, Bond whips out his primary gadget (primary since Craig’s Bond isn’t much a tech guy), a high-tech smart phone, which players use to gather evidence, and find other points of interest in the levels via an augmented reality display, and gets to work.
We make our way to a nearby trailer, and once inside, we scan a laptop to collect some relevant information. Unfortunately, a guard was standing in the doorway when we did this, cause mass panic, and alarms to be triggered. Someone yells, “He’s trapped!” and before we know it, a giant claw has picked up the trailer, holding it precariously over a deep hole. Bond sprints for the back door and leaps out onto a cable hanging on the crane, just as the trailer falls into the hole. Bond zips down a cable, and lands out of sight from the patrolling guards.
At this point, we get our first demonstration of the game’s new takedown mechanic. These melee moves are fast and brutal, and because the developers had Craig’s film stunt double motion capture 67 unique moves, and because the animations are contextual, the takedowns look and feel a bit different every time. So one second you could be knocking some dude out with a combination of punches to the kisser and a boot to the gut, the next, you’re smashing a guy’s face into a stack of wood and tossing his limb body to the ground.
Whenever you pull off a melee takedown, you earn a Focus Aim, which acts as a one-shot kill. It’s essentially the mark and execute system from Splinter Cell: Conviction, and it’s equally effective and satisfying here. After clearing a section of the construction site using melee and focus shots, the developer guiding the demo played through the same section again but this time with guns blazing. Thankfully, Bond has a healthy arsenal at his disposal, and, as always, baddies love hanging out near explosive canisters, so it didn’t take long to clear the area.
From there, Bond moved down into the catacombs. After getting an update on the position of our target, Bond climbed some scaffolding leading further into the tunnel, until suddenly, the gigantic drill that had previously been lying dormant behind us at the head of the tunnel roared to life.The massive cone-shaped drill proceeded to rip apart the rock walls as it crawled its way towards the now much faster moving Bond. Jumping from beam to beam, narrowly avoiding being crushed by the drill tearing apart the scaffolding we were just standing on, Bond managed to outrun the death wheel, only to find himself behind a wheel of a different kind.
Bizarre has done a lot of work to ensure the transitions between on-foot combat and driving sequences is as seamless as possible. As a result, load screens are virtually nonexistent. Once behind the wheel of Bond’s signature Aston-Martin, Bizarre took us through two spectacular driving sequences. The first was rather brief and played out in city streets, complete with café patios turned to splinters, pedestrians diving for their lives. Then we jumped forward to a sequence sometime later in the game in which Bond must race through an exploding refinery while maneuvering around all manner of fiery obstacles and obstructions in pursuit of a Russian oligarch in possession of biological weapons who happens to be traveling by train.
The chase is wall to wall mental in every respect. Swerving in between obstacles and detonations felt solid thanks to the vehicle’s weighty yet responsive handling. There were times when there was so much happening on screen that I couldn’t see where I was going, which gave the sequence an added sense of tension and danger. As did the transition from exploding factory to frozen river, which came about halfway through the chase. This portion was all about swerving around and outrunning the splintering ice sheets and eventually jumping your car onto the speeding train. Fortunately the developer was able to successfully navigate this sequence, because I only had once chance and failed miserably (But had a blast doing it).
Bizarre is definitely doing everything it can to ensure Blood Stone stays true to the Bond model, while also making sure the game stands on its own. If the final product can sustain the intensity and visceral thrill demonstrated thus far, then it should more than make up for the fact that Bond fans won’t be getting a feature film in 2010.