Disclaimer: I’ve mentioned before on VGM that I’m not into playing multiplayer unless I know who I’m playing with, so if any readers are interested in playing multiplayer on Blood Stone with me, let me know.
James Bond video games have an unusual history. The Pierce Brosnan era of Bond brought us GoldenEye for N64, which still stands as one of the greatest first person shooters of all time, but other than that, fans have given Bond games a lukewarm response.
- Tomorrow Never Dies went with 3rd person storytelling
- The World Is Not Enough brought back the 1st person shooting of Goldeneye
But then Bond movies took a break for a while. Not wanting to waste the license, we saw original Bond content for the game systems, featuring Pierce Brosnan including the pretty decent Agent Under Fire and Nightfire games. Everything or Nothing was Brosnan’s final Bond game, leaving on a high note in a pretty great game.
After the poorly received Goldeneye: Rogue Agent, Sean Connery was brought in to voice a retelling of From Russia With Love, which met with decent critical response, but lower than expected sales.
Mixed reviews came on the heels of Quantum of Solace, which actually adapted both Daniel Craig Bond movies, including portions of Casino Royale. Since the movie series is again taking a break, it’s been some time since fans have received a Bond game, so we actually got two on the same release date in November – a remake of Goldeneye for Wii (getting much praise) and Blood Stone for the Xbox 360 and PS3, which is garnering mixed reviews.
Blood Stone tells an original story featuring Daniel Craig’s James Bond, and features many of the elements that have made the Craig era of Bond films relatively successful – rooftop chases, spectacular car crashes and stunts, and some hand to hand combat. Though the story is pretty standard fare, the game is relatively high profile, featuring Daniel Craig voicing Bond, Judi Dench as M, and Joss Stone as Nicole Hunter, the Bond girl of the story. You travel from Greece to Monaco to Istanbul to Siberia and end up in Burma, with each set of levels having their own unique level design, if similar villains.
Blood Stone starts off strong, showing you exactly what you’re in for – you get a third person shooting level, followed by driving, then traveling via speed boat, all while everything explodes around you. Most reviewers have noted that, after this initial amazing sequence, the game drags to a crawl. While I’ll admit that it doesn’t quite keep the same level of intensity immediately following, the game is so short (about 4-5 hours max play time on the single player campaign) that you’re likely not to notice too much lag in action. Besides, every location houses its own shooting, driving, and “driving something else” level. It’s weird, because you kind of see each level coming before it does, but the game still proves enjoyable, despite its predictability and repetition.
The controls on Blood Stone are pretty standard fare for third-person shooters at this point. You get into cover, pop out and shoot, back into cover. Driving levels control very simplistically, with braking options that you’ll probably never use.
Ultimately, the question is, for fans anyway – does this feel like a good Bond experience that’ll tide me over until the next film? Well…not for $60 bucks. Again, I’ve not played the multiplayer component, and I do enjoy the game very much, but at only four hours, with nothing entirely original, and with graphics that, honestly, aren’t anything to write home about, this makes for a damn good $30 game. If you pay more than that…I hope the multiplayer is worth it. You’re going to get some fun Bond action, but the game is very much a title that doesn’t lend itself to a ton of replayability, as the driving levels (something that I’m always fond of playing over and over) are more examples of memorizing the stage so that you can get through all the obstacles than they are actually fun racing or driving.
I give a lukewarm recommendation for Blood Stone – if you like the Bond movies, you’ll enjoy the game, but it may be more worth the rental than the purchase.