While fans of the classic GoldenEye fawn over its remake on the Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners are duking it out on another James Bond game. 007: Blood Stone allows up to 16 players to go online a crack each others' skulls.
I took a break from the single player campaign earlier this week to see if there was anything worth fussing about. Immediately I noticed the ranking system, which is pretty much standard fare these days. By ranking up you can unlock player skins and guns.
There are five classes of guns to use in multiplayer: pistols, submachine guns, shotguns, assault rifles, and sniper rifles. You can carry your choice of one pistol and one other type - a primary weapon, if you will. To change your primary weapon in-game, you can simply swap what you have out at a crate that corresponds to the type that you want. It's very straightforward, with holographic signs hovering over the crates for easy reference.
The multiplayer controls are an exact clone of single player, which means you have the opportunity to melee attack if you get the drop on someone. Just like in the single player campaign, melee beatdowns give you Focus Aim tokens (you can have up to three of these)...these allow you to make insta-kill shots. In multiplayer, however, you don't get the slow-motion effect...just a satisfying POP and some XP.
I was very pleasantly surprised with how simple and polished the versus mode was. Finally, someone has latched onto the style of gameplay that made Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow for the PSP so much fun. After playing the demo for The Club, I'd been hoping that Bizarre Creations would make something good of the James Bond license. There's something delightfully simplistic and fluid about the way their games control.
Blood Stone is no exception - when it comes to multiplayer, at least. An MI6 team is pitted against a mercenary team; no grenades, no rocket launchers, and no vehicles. Just 16 players sneaking around and shooting at each other. There are objective modes available, but so far I haven't delved into them. If team deathmatch is anything to gauge by, I can see a lot more team-based cooperative opportunities.
My first round was a no-holds-barred match where only the guys with the best guns were getting high scores. After seeing them consistently take up shelter at their favorite spots, I quickly made my way back to their spawn. What little resistance I ran into was taken care of with a lightning-fast melee attack. Three casualties later, they finally got me.
This opened the door for two other teammates to take up covering positions while I started another rampage behind enemy lines. The maps in Blood Stone are fairly simple; they favor multiple verticle levels and a couple of choke points. It's very easy to get caught with your pants down while you're holed up or engaged in a firefight. Having two goons to move with you can increase your risk of being seen, but can also distract potential targets. Plus, it just plain beefs your confidence and your offensive pattern. Very little area is left unconvered when even a small handful of operatives run together.
Communication is key when playing co-op games or team-based competitive games. However, I contend that if the gameplay is simple enough a team can manage to find a common thread even without too much mic chatter. A perceptive teammate can watch what is happening and take up their role on their own. Blood Stone's super simple approach to player classes, objectives, and near-flawless "point, shoot, kill" gameplay hearkens back to the original SOCOM...which is a good thing in my book. It's safe to say that in a gaming age where some of the best sellers are nostalgic arcade games, simpler is better sometimes; and 007: Blood Stone provides that solid, simple experience that frees up the mic in trade for cooperative instinct.