I guess there’s a Bond in all of us, only we might play it a little safer than 007 – who doesn’t enjoy putting their foot down and speeding when nobody is around, or vaulting over walls when you’ve had a few pints on a quiet night out? We are all miniature action heroes, ducking and diving when the time calls for such behaviour, punching our friends in the neck to take them down if they misbehave, and sneaking away from such a crime scene when you realise you don’t know your own strength – we’ve all been there, right? Sure, it’s not double-oh-seven, it’s not even close, but deep down, deep deep down, there’s a tiny fragment of Bond in all of us.
So it gave me great pleasure to take a look at the latest Bond instalment from Activision; it’s no movie cash in, it’s a complete separate Bond story with an all-star cast including Daniel Craig as Bond, Judi Dench as Q, and JossStone as ‘The Girl’ who also lends her soulful voice to the Blood Stone theme tune which provides a nice backing to a very suave 007 opening sequence, stylized just like you’d expect any Bond movie to start. First impressions count, and this game far surpassed mine.
In fact, Blood Stone plays through very much like a movie. For starters, It’s got a fantastic narrative with sublime dialogue and voice acting; combined, this really brings the whole experience to life, and it’s safe to say that Bond fans will love the content found within, especially the graphics, with beautiful cut scenes and really nice environments to walk and drive around in. Continuing with the movie feel, there’s never a dull moment on the gameplay front, one minute you’re chasing a lead in an Austin Martin, the next your car is in flames and you’re on foot, taking down a gang with a silenced pistol, before jumping onto a speed boat and speeding off into the distance. It’s so fast paced that even a Cheetah, the fastest creature on Earth, would have trouble getting bored with the action here. That is, of course, if a Cheetah could play the Xbox, PS3 or PC.
In addition to the fast paced action, 007: Blood Stone showcases a lot of those slow motion style Bond signature moves that you always see in the movies. Whether it’s a bullet heading to a tank of explosives along with the aftermath that follows, or a car flipping over and shattering to pieces causing a pile up on a busy road, these action sequences are noticeable thanks to the slow motion, and also entertaining to watch.
Without sounding too much like a killjoy, while game is very much like a movie – has it yet occurred to you that a movie is not very interactive? You sit there, and are entertained, amused, tickled and tantalised. But when it’s over, you stand up and leave as the credits roll. I’m not accusing Blood Stone of being something you simply watch, but the game is so linear that even a beginner to the world of gaming could succeed with what is on offer, so at times it feels as if you’re pressing forward and squeezing the trigger just for the sake of uncovering a highly compelling story.
There’s no exploration; down a corridor of closed doors, none of them will swing open, and walking through the gardens of a villa, you cannot enter the swimming pool you are forced to walk around – you simply have to push forward. On a speed boating level, you have no control over your gun, you merely have to steer the boat and press a button to fire you gun when prompted, it’s all very limited, whether intentional or not, it doesn’t make for a great gameplay experience.
Having said that, when you’re on foot, sneaking around, ducking and diving for cover and taking lives with your silenced pistol it really does satisfy that little bit of Bond inside you. Gunning villains down will always be a high point, along with hand to hand instant take downs, and the reward given for taking somebody down with your hands – Focus Kills, which allows you to take one bad guy down instantly with one shot without having to aim – are pretty handy when there’s plenty of people around. As Bond you will have to also use a smart phone to acquire data on the enemy to send back to HQ so you know where to go next – a nice touch, only the game is so linear that you’re practically led straight to the data that needs discovering, only to be led to the next checkpoint and so on and so forth.
If you’re sorely missing Bond in his movie appearances, then this really is the next best thing as far as story goes. You’ll be entertained by all your favourite Bond voices, and the graphics that go with them will sit nicely with your eyes, it really is a treat for any fan. The gameplay, while fast paced and action packed, is awfully linear and restricted, and any seasoned gamer will find the whole experience a walk through from start to finish. It’s good while it lasts, but if you like your games with added depth and you’re not too fussed about the world of Bond, then your cash is better spent on Vodka Martinis and loose women. A modest double-oh seven out of ten.
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