Wednesday, November 24, 2010

James Bond 007: Blood Stone

In sort of a strange turn of events, Bizarre Creations, best known for their work with racing titles like Blur, and the Project Gotham series, gets picked up by Activision, who has the license to kill for the James Bond franchise and sets out to create the next game in the legendary series.  Will this one be as good as Goldeneye from days of yore (circa 1997), that happened to also get a Daniel Craig face-lift (sorry Pierce), and re-released on the Wii the same day as it's newer brethren?

If you play it, like me, you'll find a lot to love here.
Daniel Craig in full polygonal action!

We haven't had a Bond movie since Quantum of Solace released in theaters for over 2 years now, so those that are in need of the hero really need to look no further than the latest game, Blood Stone.  While the story doesn't pick up after Quantum, it does star the likeness (and voices) of Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, and Joss Stone as the obligatory female lead, this IS a Bond story after all, so it definitely feels like the natural next entry into the series.  I also love the feeling of the added soundtrack that really puts you in the shoes of Your Majesty's Top-Secret Agent.
It's not James Bond without a pretty lady in tow

You begin the game, as the G-20 Summit is about to begin in Greece (eery timing), and you have to interrupt an attack on the meeting, that leads into a full-on boat chase through the channels.  From here, you're paired with your "partner", a socialite/fashion designer, Nicole Hunter, who you can bet will be the object of Bond's desire, if he so chooses.  She will facilitate the next few missions of yours, and plays a role throughout the rest of the game.  As you chase down your target, a man named Pomerov, you'll globe trot and hop from Athens, to Istanbul, Monaco, Bangkok, and Siberia.  Lastly, you'll end up in Burma, navigating the dense jungle, leading up to a pretty epic showcase of a finale.
Drive fast and see lots of explosions.  Oh Bond

Gameplay is in the third-person, and borrows from the latest in "bullet-point" features.  A cover system is integrated well.  There's even a Splinter Cell: Conviction-like "Mark and Execute" feature, that works more in real-time, rather than setting the mark, and executing it, and letting the pre-set marks go down.  As you take out enemies in hand-to-hand combat, you earn "focus aim" that you can use to basically auto-lock onto an enemy, and provided they're in your line of sight, no matter what weapon you're wielding, Bond always gets his man.  You can queue up to three, and string them together to make quick work of a room before anyone really knows you're there.

The action isn't limited to the sneaking variety either, oh no, there was more than a few times where the enemies in an area just kept coming.  The AI leaves a little to be desired, as you could just duck behind a strategically placed wall, and take them out one at a time.  I was sorta hoping they would try to flank me from time to time, but that didn't happen.  Overall, In usual Bond fashion, there's a lot of action here, and the franchise was ripe for Bizarre Creations to add their own signature to the legacy - great car (vehicle) chases.

Multiplayer is here, and if that's your thing, you'll find the standard fare.  With Activision's other release already taking place - I don't think there will be anyone playing the Bond variety, when they can get their Call of Duty on.

All in all, gives James Bond 007: Blood Stone an 8 out of 10.  Clocking in around 8-10 hours, and filled with hallmark Bond moments, fans of the franchise will find this one worth checking out.  Or those of you who just like to avoid the popular things in life.

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