Developer: Bizarre Creations
by: Jim "txshurricane" McLaughlin
“It feels like I’m playing an early build.” That’s the simplified version of what I told Nick when he asked for my opinion of 007: Blood Stone. It’s not especially awesome, nor especially horrible - it’s just...rushed.
There are a fair number of single player levels, each with their own flavor. Oddly enough, the MI6 agent with the most expensive taste in the world almost never deems it necessary to change up his attire. The campaign story is pretty original, and holds together alright. Events of importance are heavily scripted, so don’t expect any real AI variety. Luckily the prospect of easy melee takedowns takes the sting out of the poor AI. Just like in Splinter Cell: Conviction, melee attacks and stealth kills earn you Focus Aim instakills; the only real difference here is that whereas in Conviction you mark off your targets and let Sam do the shooting, in Blood Stone you hold a bumper button and let Bond do the aiming while you work the trigger.
Melee consists of stealth takedowns and straight-up slugging it out. The animations are slick, and the camera works perfectly to give you a sense of brutality. Blood Stone sports an impressive array of guns for use in shootouts, which aside from appealing to gun collectors’ intrigue also serves the shooting genre well. Bizarre Creations really ironed out the combat before shipping.
Which is more than can be said for the game’s visual effects. Facial animations are akin to something you’d see on a Nintendo Gamecube title. A heavy dose of light bloom helps keep the graphics from being downright ugly, but there were times when I shook my head and reminded myself that 007: Everything or Nothing really was the last great-looking Bond game (and, incidentally, had a co-op mode).
Since the shooting mechanics and melee system work really well - in my opinion - it stands to reason that the versus multiplayer does as well. Up to 16 players can take their rage out on each other, and for all its simplicity it plays just fine. In fact, I rather like it.
Production value is a grab bag: voice acting is spot-on, and the musical score fits perfectly. The opening titles, however, feature an ear-splitting song by Joss Stone and animations ripped straight from the opening sequence of the Casino Royale film.
As with any game based on a film license, there will be those that enjoy it just for what it is: a game that lets you play as James Bond, right down to the silenced Walther PPK. Anyone who isn’t easily dazzled by Daniel Craig’s likeness or the sight of an Aston Martin plowing through Istanbul is probably going to end up skipping this one. For my money, though, 007: Blood Stone is a very fun romp that just plain needed more polish.