James Bond 007: Blood Stone review
With his future on the silver screen looking uncertain, Blood Stone is this year’s only outing for international secret agent James Bond. The story is completely original, taking 007 across the globe to stop terrorists from creating a deadly biological weapon. The opening credits sequence and theme song provide an authentic 007 experience, as does the excellent voice acting from Daniel Craig and Judy Dench.
The storyline is familiar Bond territory, filled with exotic locations and plenty of explosions. Like the latest films, gadgets from Q Branch are more realistic than the jet-packs and ejector seats we’ve come to expect from previous Bonds. Your smartphone highlights enemy patrols and points out clues to the plot, but otherwise you’re left to your own devices. Fists and firearms are the order of the day, but unfortunately the run-and-gun gameplay falls flat.
Most levels begin with Bond sneaking in undiscovered, leaving you the choice of continuing on stealthily, taking down enemies without being spotted, or running in all guns blazing and alerting the guards. The corridor shooting is rather uninspired, as even on the harder difficulties you rarely get overwhelmed by enemies once you set off the alarm. An over-zealous auto-aim system makes gunfights far too easy and the regenerating health system is very forgiving.
For those taking the stealthy approach, each close range attack is an instant takedown that reward you with a Focus kill - a momentary bullet-time effect that slows down enemies, letting you line up a perfect shot. However, because enemies dip in and out of cover in fairly predictable patterns, these are rarely needed to clear a room.
Driving sections break up the gunplay, putting you behind the wheel of Bond’s Aston Martin and several other high-speed vehicles. Developers Bizarre Creations are well known for the Project Gotham series, so it’s surprising that Blood Stone’s driving levels aren’t much fun to play. Each section usually involves chasing another vehicle through a pre-determined route, and regardless of your driving skills it’s impossible to catch your target until you reach the end point of the section.
The campaign is over rather quickly, even if finding every piece of intelligence provides a small amount of replay value. There’s a fairly limited multiplayer mode, but it feels like a token inclusion that can’t compete with other, more complete online experiences such as Gears of War and Call of Duty.
Blood Stone is a functional game, but take away the 007 brand and there’s very little here that hasn’t been done before. While the storyline is true to form, both the on-foot and driving sections fail to live up to the action we expect from a Bond title.