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James Bond 007: Blood Stone Review

Review; Mar. 30, 2011; Channels: Video Games; By Kyle James Hovanec
It's no Roger Moore, but it's no Sean Connery either

Your liking of James Bond 007: Blood Stone* entirely depends on how much you liked Splinter Cell Conviction and the last two James Bond films. If you found enjoyment from these two things and you can put up with mediocre graphics, wonky driving controls, and tepid voice acting, Blood Stone might be for you.

James Bond 007: Blood Stone Screenshots
Click the image to view game screenshots

To clarify, despite some criticism from fans of the game, I heartily enjoyed Conviction, and I also enjoyed the newer James Bond films. Blood Stone is very much in the same vein as the newest films and latest Splinter Cell game. For one thing, the storyline is a continuation of the previous two movies, continuing James Bond's mission to find the leader of the Quantum organization before he brings the world to its knees through economic sabotage and terrorism. The game plays very much like Conviction. James must take cover and fire. You can earn the ability to use the “focus aim system” to earn points for each melee take down you use on your enemies. You can then use these points to activate the focus aim system and automatically lock on to enemies and quickly dispose of them. This is similar to Conviction's “mark and execute” system and works just as well here.

One of the major differences from Conviction is the driving missions and close quarters combat. Certain stages will have Bond driving his famous Aston Martin to chase down bad guys or escape from villains in pursuit. Close quarters combat has you pressing a button to take down foes once they get close to you. It's easy to do, but the brutal animations along with the ability to chain take downs with a close group of enemies makes up for it. It feels cool, it looks cool, and feels smoother than pressing a button to haphazardly melee foes with your weapon in hand.

There are some really interesting set pieces as well that help make this game seem like a big blockbuster that missed the big screen. One sequence has you driving the Aston Martin across a frozen river as you chase down a train loaded with smallpox. Another has you using a tow truck to chase down a massive dump truck as it tries to escape through the streets of Bangkok, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. The set pieces are large and over the top, making for an exciting trip through its 4-and-a-half to 5-hour game.

Yet, Blood Stone is filled with flaws that prevent it from being great.

One of the game's largest flaws is the controls. While the on foot and combat sections are fine, the driving controls are absolutely horrid. Driving the Aston Martin feels like it weighs a ton and controls with all the grace of an 18-wheeler. To make it worse, many of the driving stages are filled with pitfalls and instant death areas that are not apparent upon a first play through. It basically becomes trial and error as you fail again and again to memorize the exact layout of the stages. Challenging? Yes. Fun? Absolutely not. It's puzzling that the driving stages are the worst in the game considering that Bizarre Creations, the makers of the Project Gotham series, were also the developers behind Blood Stone.

The second is the graphics. While not horrible, the character models and environments are all low in texture and detail. It makes some of the otherwise cool set pieces look dull and uninteresting. To put it bluntly, there are some first generation launch titles that look better. One plus side though is the animations. Bond looks graceful and powerful as he takes out enemies and slides in behind cover, making for a very real and moving character.

Finally, the multiplayer aspect of this game feels tacked on and isn't very fun to play. There's a team death match and different objective based game play modes which feature generic looking player models fighting with generic looking weapons in a bunch of bland stages. There's nothing here that hasn't been done before -- and done better.

I have to add that while the voice acting comes from Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, and singer-songwriter Joss Stone, all of their performances sounded phoned in and dull. All three sound bored and not emotionally invested in the story at all. I know it's a video game, but the lameness of the voice acting gets to the point of being distracting, and it really takes you out of the narrative when the world is in danger, and Bond sounds like he could care less.

Overall, I enjoyed Blood Stone for what is was: a short but enjoyable third-person action game set in between the most recent Bond flick and the next one. I wouldn't recommend a buy, not at full price, and if you're deciding between this and Goldeneye, then the latter is the better bet. I will say that this game can most likely be found for cheap, and if you can avoid paying the full price, then it''ll provide a few hours of enjoyment to pass the time until the next Bond flick. Given the recent legal entanglements going on at MGM, who knows when that will be.

* There's never really a solid explanation of why it's called Blood Stone, proving once again that Jame Bond titles are as nonsensical as they are awesome sounding.

Comments

rfludwick

rfludwick - May. 12, 2011 at 1:16:37pm

Yeah, I saw that. Disappointed. :/

mcguire82 - May. 12, 2011 at 12:25:45pm

Unfortunately, they cancelled the making of a new Bond movie until further notice. This is all we can get for now.

Review Score
7.2

Teen

Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.

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