With financial issues casting doubt on a new Bond film along with dust settling on Activision's claim on the license, Bizarre Creations--known for its proclivity toward the racing genre--was tapped to give 007 an original adventure, starring Daniel Craig.
James Bond 007: Blood Stone breaks free of the "licensed game" curse, crafting an above-average game based on an existing property; however, the game struggles to push beyond this point to give gamers something they haven't seen before.
It seems obvious that Bizarre's strategy when creating Blood Stone was to give players a complete look at what the character is willing to do to get the job done. From the beginning of the game, the adrenaline of "being" Bond is apparent. After boarding a yacht following a base-jump from military plane, Bond tracks down a shady character looking to cause problems at an Athens-hosted political summit. Describing the game's first level outlines the entire structure of the game: third-person, cover-based shooting; one-hit kill, hand-to-hand maneuvers; frantic but functional driving, and more explosions than an action-movie montage. All before the opening credits roll.
For the sake of comparison, James Bond 007: Blood Stone appears to be very much modeled on the core design of Splinter Cell: Conviction. Hand-to-hand combat in Blood Stone earns players a "Focus Aim," which--when triggered--snaps the aiming reticule to an enemy giving Bond a chance at a killing shot. Although there is no real "stealth" mechanic in the game (as in, playing with the light and dark), you can easily bounce from cover to cover without being spotted and take out a room full of enemies with little effort.
The "little effort" part is where the game starts to trip. James Bond 007: Blood Stone is an extremely easy game to conquer from beginning to end. During my playthrough of the single-player, I decided to pick the highest difficulty setting available--the hardest difficulty unlocks after the game has been completed--and rarely ran into sticky situations. A.I. follow preset paths, often forget where you are when spotted, and don't pose any real threat--even in high numbers.
During my playthrough--which was on PC--I had to battle with some of the controls. I quickly opted to use an Xbox 360 controller instead of the awkward (but customizable) mouse and keyboard controls, however, the game still had some issues. The game doesn't recognize what kind of controller you own, for example, and still prompts you throughout the game to perform tasks by giving you the mouse/keyboard icons on screen. Also, in the first level you have to fend off enemies during a speedboat chase but since the controller maps the boat's throttle to the same button as firing a weapon, I wasn't able to shoot enemies and was forced to switch to mouse and keyboard to progress.
When I first picked up the game, I thought the installation process would be longer than the actual adventure. Surprisingly, Blood Stone lasted longer than I anticipated. It isn't going to run you past the 8 or 10-hour mark, but the game continues to press forward. On more than one occasion I thought the game was over, but Bond kept flying to new exotic locales around the world looking for more henchmen to shoot and/or punch--all of whom appear to be clones or, at the very least, related.
In traditional Bond manner, the game's story can sometimes get ahead of itself. Sometimes it makes a lot of sense and sometimes it throws a twist your way without spending time to explain the situation. Bond figured it out, that's all you need to know. What helps smooth things over are the game's legendary characters and some mostly good voice-work from the majority of the cast.
As I said, Blood Stone is completely linear and ridiculously easy to master. The game has some really fun moments and keeps pace flowing but never breaks free and becomes something more. It checks the boxes of an average shooter but shines as something more in the licensed realm. This isn't to say that the game is going to win hearts for not being as bad as the history of licensed titles would have you expect, but Blood Stone is a solid foundation for Bizarre to build on.
There are certain levels I enjoyed enough to want to go back and play again and again. What Bizarre has done here is prove that Bond can have a place in the video game world. It isn't a revolution the way developer Rocksteady shifted minds on the Batman universe, but an evolution for a character that has the potential to take its place in the action video game genre.
This review is based on the single-player of James Bond 007: Blood Stone for the PC, purchased by the reviewer.
Although this review focuses on the single-player, James Bond 007: Blood Stone includes a three-mode multiplayer component. We attempted to play it but were unable to enter any games.
Shacknews cannot comment on the quality of the Blood Stone's multiplayer component.
Interesting, this was completely off my radar - I didn't even know that it existed!
Same here, maybe if they kept posting the games that were releasing each week. That was quite convenient.