Blood Stone 007

Rough Stone

Perhaps most ironically, a lack of soul is what keeps Blood Stone 007 down.
Author: Parjanya C. Holtz
Published: November 12, 2010
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The semi regular release of James Bond games has been somewhat of a small tradition within the industry for some time now. Gems like GoldenEye on the N64 or the more recent Everything Or Nothing on the PS2, Xbox and GameCube have proven that there is a lot that can be done with the license.

That history, coupled with the knowledge that Activision tasked british studio Bizarre Creations with the development of its new 007 game Blood Stone was enough to give us, as we were convinced, good reason to believe that the license was in capable hands. After all Bizarre not only made excellent racing games like the Project Gotham Series or the more recent Blur, but were also responsible for the decent, and by many underrated action shooter The Club as well as Geometry Wars on the Xbox 360.

In typical Bond fashion Blood Stone makes the British MI6 agent (Daniel Craig) jet across the globe from one expensive tourist trap to another, while throwing spectacular explosions, by comparison pale looking villains and a soul singer-turned-Bond girl into the cocktail shaker to generate the typical Bond adventure. The result however is less than satisfactory as Bizarre's latest title suffers from an identity crisis, which in part can be blamed on a combination of missed opportunities in the form of a lackluster presentation and merely decent but never very original gameplay.

With its proven talent for making games that include fast cars, one would expect to get a Bond game that is somewhere between Burnout and Stuntman, flavored with a fun little story, and spiced up with a few on-foot action sequences. Instead, Bizarre came up with a game that is mostly a third person action-stealth shooter in the wake of titles like Uncharted or Splinter-Cell, while never managing to come close to the sources of inspiration it so evidently borrows from.

Not only is it a mystery to me that the game places such a large emphasize on something it clearly has not nearly enough experience in to build its core upon, but the driving sequences, aside from being few and far in between, are little more than pretty looking trial and error mini games. Success just too often depends on memorizing scripted events and corners to look out for in order for any real fun to be had with these parts of the game. They certainly provide a minimal degree of entertaining distraction from the rest of Bond's on-foot adventure, yet are lacking of any form of real gameplay depth.

Blood Stone is a good looking game, as long as Bond is behind the wheel that is. As soon as he gets out of his Aston Martin he steps into a bland and uninspired looking world that could have used some form of creative detail.

Much more irritating however is that the technology used to animate each of the character's faces is quite weak, making it tough to care about any of the lines virtual Craig and Stone are delivering. And while Stone really pours her heart and soul (see what I did there?) into her performance, Craig often sounds bored and distracted. In fact, it seems like Bizarre had to rely on a voice double for some of Craig's lines, as occasionally it just doesn't sound like him.

Whether they had to do more recordings after Craig was no longer available, or he simply had a bad cold halfway through the recording sessions will remain a mystery for now. Either way it distracted me and kept pulling me out of the experience. It gets a little better the further you progress in the game, though, so it's not all bad.
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