Review: Blood Stone: 007 (PS3)

Title: James Bond: Blood Stone
Format: Blu-ray Disc
Release Date: November 2, 2010
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Bizarre Creations
Price: $59.99

Gameplay:
For those that played Activision’s previous title for Quantum of Solace, the gameplay is rooted in the previous title. At its core is a 3rd-person shooter which relies heavily on stealth and accuracy. This time around though, Bizarre Creations have brought their extensive experience with driving games to the James Bond video game universe, with scenes that push the player into the driving seat of exotic cars, and even a speedboat. The action, overall, is quite solid. Shooting is relatively straightforward and the controls are very responsive. Hugging the wall or another object is as simple as hitting ‘X’ when close, and switching to other cover can be done by tapping ‘X’ while pointing at the object with the left stick. As in some other 3rd-person titles, if you can sneak behind an enemy while not being seen, you can hit the Square button to perform a “stealth takedown” (Square is also used for close combat, but it’s all canned animations, so you’re not fighting like you would in an Uncharted title.) Anytime that you perform a hand-to-hand takedown, you will receive a “focus attack (up to 3 at a time),” which can be used by simply holding L2. This slows time to a crawl, and allows you take down multiple enemies very quickly, and always with a one-shot kill. You won’t use them as much as you’d think, and in a couple of circumstances, they were quite valuable to have.

Driving sequences are pretty straightforward as well, with many putting you in the drivers seat of an exotic car, but early in the game you’ll be involved in a speedboat chase as well. All are pretty cinematic, with canned events and larger than life explosions. Most of the time, the driving sequences are very well done, and well, expected given Bizarre’s list of previous games. Once sequence though, stands-out as something that actually made me quit for about an hour. It involves chasing a train, while you’re in a sports car driving across a frozen river all while an attack chopper is on your tail. Yes, it sounds exciting until you realize that the river is only mostly frozen, and that it’s insanely easy to fall into the open spots, hence requiring you to start from a checkpoint. As I said, the other driving sequences were fun to play, but this one was infuriating to say the least.

Another tool added to your arsenal is the all-in-one cell phone. This thing does it all, including showing you where you need to go, and where enemies are located. Think Arkham Asylum’s Detective Mode and you’ll know what I’m talking about, It’s definitely a welcome addition, and part of the “collect them all” metagame is tied directly with the phone, as you can scan and analyze items all over the place.

So overall, the gameplay is solid and easy to pick-up. The shooting is good, and the cover system is very responsive.

Visuals:
I’m not sure if this uses a modified Call of Duty engine like Quantum of Solace did, but I doubt it.The visuals have definitely gotten a bump since QoS, but it still doesn’t look as impressive as some other games out there. The most deficient is probably the character faces themselves. Things just look a little too ‘smooth.’ Other than that though, Blood Stone looks fantastic, both on foot and during the driving sequences. The framerate is solid, and textures are detailed and various. You’ll also see some nice fog and smoke effects, all with vibrant colors. Character models and animation are above average, and the variety is nice.

Audio:
We’ll get the soundtrack out of the way, since you all know what it’ll sound like, and it’s great. The opening song by Joss Stone, who also plays a pretty major part in the game is good but not great. The voice acting is exceptional, and the fact that Danial Craig and Judi Dench are both present really brings the player into the game that much more. Dialogue is actually written pretty well, and I honestly can’t think of any voice actor that made me want to skip any dialogue.

The sound itself is great, with booming effects and a nice use of surround. The mix is well done from beginning to end, and it hit my sub woofer pretty hard in spots.

Online/Multiplayer:
Unfortunately, the online doesn’t fare as well. The modes are thin, and the gameplay is just not there. Also, I always experienced exceptionally bad lag, including the game showing me killing an enemy while I was in the respawn lobby. As in many recent games, most items and upgrades are unlocked with rank and points, but honestly, the multiplayer disappoints in every aspect. Also, I must not be the only one thinking this, as it took me multiple tries to even find a match online.

Conclusion:
So there you have it. Blood Stone is an enjoyable game, even though I felt the story was pretty weak. I know that in this reboot, but there really aren’t any “bad guys bent on world domination.” Instead, as in the new movies, they’re pushing the involvement with “Quantum” (since they’re not allowed to use the acronym SPECTRE any more.) The problem is, that’s never mentioned either, Instead you just hear the standard “this is bigger than you and me, this is bigger than MI-6 etc.”

So all-in-all, I do feel that story is definitely weaker than it could have been. Instead you simply find yourself hunting-down “connected bad guy”: after “bad guy that’s connected at a higher level.” Luckily, the story’s not bad enough that the game’s not worth playing, because it is. Unfortunately, the online multiplayer just doesn’t add enough value for many people. I do firmly state though, that this game is definitely better than Quantum of Solace, and much longer too.

Score:
6.0

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  • Anonymous

    Um . . . I didn’t order this. I ordered a Call of Duty: Black Ops review!