November can be categorised by several major events. Movember, a moustache-centric charity promoting awareness for menís health issues, two very different James Bond inspired video game releases, and a couple of other titles like Assassinís Creed Brotherhood, Need for Speed Hot Pursuit, and a little game known as Call of Duty: Black Ops.
Recently, I reviewed GoldenEye 007, which heralded a return to the glory days of Nintendo and provided a legitimate contender for the FPS crown on the first motion-sensing console. Separating the wheat from the chaff of Bond titles is the less known and received release 007 Blood Stone, feeling more like the slow cousin of GoldenEye 007, and remains a distant second.
007 Blood Stone follows the exploits of MI6 super spy James Bond in the most generic of stories and game mechanics. Both Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench play the draw card roles of Bond and M, with the new addition of songbird Joss Stone (hence the title) as the prerequisite eye candy/Bond girl, Nicole Hunter. The paper-thin plot centres on a biological weapon that must be destroyed and even for Bond this is pure fluff.
After a botched rescue attempt, a kidnapped and summarily executed scientist reveals to his interrogators information about a biological agent. After Bond arrives on the scene to kick ass and take names, he uncovers that these torturers are hirelings for the mysterious Stefan Pomerov. On Pomerovís trail, he meets with his sexy MI6 contact Nicole who uses her feminine wiles to distract Pomerov, allowing Bond to slip in, crack his safe and discover what the scientist was working on. It turns out to be an antidote for his underlings for Anthrax and Small Pox meaning someoneís about to release some thing nasty, so itís off to Pomerovís Siberian chemical refinery we go to make the world a safer place.
After making the refinery go boom and neutralising both Pomerov, his hundred or so henchmen and recovering the toxins and the bio-weapons, it appears that not all is what it seems. Someone else is pulling the strings, and so continues the nonsensical twists and turns joined by the flimsiest of threads, and sometimes, not even at all.
Confused? I sure as hell was. Most Bond films are light on plot and heavy on action, which I accept and adore, but these are tenuously linked stages and characters at best, and thatís being generous. It is loose, disjointed and entirely predictable, hardly engaging the audience and coming in at around 4-5 hours is barely worth playing through.
The action is incredibly repetitive as you negotiate your way through six allegedly glamorous locations. Modelled on your typical cover based third person shooter, this is a bland reworking of whatís been stock standard (and done better) in the Gears of War or Uncharted franchises. Bond slips from cover to cover as he engages a handful of enemy types using fewer weapons than seen in a Commando montage. Nothing in your arsenal screams cool, and most of the ballistic weapons feel a much of a muchness eliciting a ďmehĒ in response.
Bizarre Creations has attempted to balance it out with a few driving/boating chase sequences; these do stand out as youíd expect from the developers of titles like Project Gotham Racing 4 and Blur but even these moments lose their lustre fairly quickly. There are four chase sequences of which the initial boat chase where you can actually shoot down other speedboats is the highlight. The others have various pathways you need to follow and scripted events cutting you off and they end up feeling more like a trial and error quick time event until you get the route down pat.
The new twist on combat is the context sensitive takedowns, which are similar to those in this yearís other Bond title, GoldenEye 007. There are many types with some stealth variations, and you can even drag goons across cover youíve been hiding behind as you coax them into silent nap time. The gimmick is that each of these garners you a ďFocus Aimí slot (of which you can have a maximum of three) which is an instant one shot kill on any bad guy on screen.
This is a blatantly dumbed down rip of the Mark and Execute feature from Splinter Cell: Conviction, with decidedly less flair. The problem with this mechanic is that thereís very little use for it, even on the harder difficulty settings. Due to the COD inspired snap-to aiming most can be dispatched in seconds, and since the AI is
fairly rudimentary they donít really put up much challenge. You end up using it more for flash, or to just keep your momentum going as you play and spray.
The only real mix up to the traditional shooting dynamic is the use of your smart phone to hack for information. You can also use it as an early warning system, similar to a simplified version of Detective Mode seen in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Any points of interest or adversaries (even in cover) are marked using the phone, taking any of the guesswork out of each mission. In fact, I pretty much left it on through the entire campaign and literally rushed through callously mowing down or taking down all in my path.
I have to mention the subpar graphics and motion capture, which have Daniel Craig looking more like a botox infused monkey than the dapper and debonair agent we all know and love. Ditto for Dame Judi Dench and Joss Stone. Nothing other than a few fleeting explosive moments during chases stood out, and the entire experience simply fades from memory the second it concludes.
The less said about the multi-player component the better, as it feel less than tacked on as an afterthought, and pales in comparison to the far superior versions available in GoldenEye 007. Itís a passable title, but nothing about it even remotely stands out.
Playing this and GoldenEye 007 back to back made the differences obvious and the choice of which to purchase even more so. I know this isnít a comparative review, but finishing both within days of each other makes it almost impossible not to. If youíre after the definitive Bond adventure, Blood Stone 007 isnít it, stick to GoldenEye 007 instead.