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007: Blood Stone (X360) Review

I have no connection to the James Bond series. I’ve watched a few of the movies but never enjoyed them that much. So the thought of a James Bond game was largely something I had no interest in, granted I did enjoy Goldeneye on the N64. Bizarre Creations, the developer of 007: Blood Stone are mainly known for their racing games, namely the Project Gotham Racing series (which I’ve always adored). My main attraction to 007: Blood Stone was to see if Bizarre could make a solid shooter with a bit of driving. It seems a James Bond game was almost the perfect fit.

In 007: Blood Stone, you’re James Bond. That’s pretty much all you need to know. Of course, you’re having to take down some big boss man, but he’s mostly forgettable, similar to the rest of the story. If you came to 007: Blood Stone for a great Bond story, you’re in the wrong game. The plot is mostly nonsense stacked upon nonsense and serves mainly as a stepping stone to the many ridiculous and fun sequences you find throughout the game. The characters (except for Bond himself) are never that fleshed out or interesting in any way. You’ll find yourself counting down the seconds to the next gameplay section in almost every cutscene. All of this is topped off by one of the most random, unexplained plot twists I’ve ever seen. It literally made me burst out into laughter.

The voice work isn’t much better. Everyone has a painfully monotone voice and will sometimes deliver their lines so poorly you won’t be able to understand what they’re saying. This is largely surprising due to the fact that there are some big names in the voice cast. The worst of the main three characters, Nicole, is voiced by Joss Stone and is the main culprit for my previously mentioned not being able to understand what the character is saying complaint. The only really well done voice was Judi Dench as M. Daniel Craig surprisingly voices James Bond here. At times, he sounds really well, and at other times, I wasn’t sure if I was really listening to Daniel Craig or if the game was playing a trick on me.

 

007: Blood Stone’s look is actually decent. Very rarely does the framerate dip and all the character models and environments look really well done. There are tons of explosions, as expected, and all of them look fairly destructive. My main issue is with the fact that there isn’t any blood. I’m not a blood craver or anything but when you’re shooting a man at point blank with a shotgun, only to have him fall backwards with no blood, you kind of say to yourself “awww.” And on top of that there isn’t an impact when you do shoot someone. It’s the same sound whether you hit a wall or hit an enemy which can be rather disorienting in spots.

The place where 007: Blood Stone really steps up it’s A game is the combat. There really aren’t a wide variety of weapons, and they mostly sound the same, but it’s just plain fun to duck in cover, navigate around, and finally shoot an enemy without him ever noticing you were there; the responsive controls make this feeling even stronger. Since it is a James Bond game, there’s a fair amount of stealth in Blood Stone, all of which is impressive. The aforementioned controls add to the experience and make every kill slightly easier, yet tons more fun.

There’s also a system in the combat called Focus Aim which, at first, seems to be a dulled down version of Bullet Time that you’ve seen in many other games before. After a while, you realize it’s more of a combination of Bullet Time and the Takedown system in Splinter Cell: Conviction. You increase your Focus Shot meter by doing a takedown (a CQC execution which is done by pressing X) and once activated, the world around you slows down and you then auto-lock to the nearest enemy, and normally kill them in one shot. While most of the time this mode is used as an easy way to get one kill, in the later parts of the game you start to string together takedowns and Focus Aim kills which can look really cool and make you feel like a straight up badass.

While I’m not the biggest James Bond fan, I know that there are tons of “holy shit” moments in the movies. Be it a car crashing through a window onto something or James Bond almost dying then miraculously coming back and killing the enemy. 007: Blood Stone does not shy away from these moments, in fact, you get multiple set piece moments like this throughout each level. An example being: You’re in a cave, getting chased by an oversized drilling vehicle, running away, and at the end, you hop through something (a window, a door, etc.) and everything is OK. It’s intense, exciting, and hectic in all the right ways.

 

Since Bizarre Creations is known mainly for their driving games, it’s no surprise that there is driving in 007: Blood Stone. What is surprising, however, is that it isn’t very good. All you’re ever doing is chasing someone/being chased which isn’t a bad thing exactly, but you’re constantly running through streets instead of open places and the floaty driving controls don’t lend themselves well to the environment you’re normally presented with. You’re constantly crashing into random cars, running off the road and failing the mission, or just having no idea where to go. One situation that annoyed me was a section where you’re driving on ice. You’re in an open area so at first, I was fairly excited about it, until I realized that the game wants you to swerve back and forth to try and avoid holes in the ground. It seems like they took the frustration from the normal driving on roads and decided to multiply it by two in this part of the game.

Something that came as a bit of a shock to me in 007: Blood Stone (apart from the fact that I actually liked it) was the multiplayer. You’re presented with a leveling system and three modes, the modes being Objective, Team Deathmatch, and Last Man Standing. The most fun of the three is by far Objective where one team is attacking and one is defending. The attacking team will go through multiple objectives like busting through a wall with C4, setting off a rocket, etc. all while the defending team fights them off. It’s similar to the modes in Battlefield: Bad Company. Since 007: Blood Stone’s combat is actually pretty good, multiplayer can be occasionally thrilling, though dulled a bit at times by people running around doing one hit kill melee attacks. This is biggest killer of the experience, not lag, not a poor map selection, but the fact that melee attacks kill you in one hit. You can unload around 3 shots from a shotgun into a man but have him walk up to you, whack you with the butt of his rifle, and you’ll be out like a light. It’s nothing extravagant by any means but 007: Blood Stone’s multiplayer works and can be fun to play if you’re playing with the right people.

007: Blood Stone was made not for just James Bond fans, but for everyone. It has its own share of issues, some more apparent than others, but it’s definitely worth checking out. No matter if you’ve been a fan of James Bond for 50 years, or you’re just now taking a liking to the mysterious and risky agent.

Rating
8.0

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