Friday, August 10, 2012

Blood Stone

007: Blood Stone
Version Reviewed: X360

As you may have surmised by the release date of this title, this was not one I picked up on launch. In fact this was never even a game that crossed my radar (aside from seeing the case once in a blockbuster). In fact, I picked this game up as a bonus free game for a coupon I used.

Little did I know though, that this would be the game from that stack that I would enjoy the most.

To start off, 007: Bloodstone is not a movie tie-in, nor was it a novel. This is an original story made for the gaming industry. Originally this was planned to be a 2-parter (or possibly a trilogy) However the developer Bizarre creations was closed not too long after this game was released and we are left with only the first part of this story.

None-the-less this felt like a full bond movie experience with great stealth-action components, a smart-phone that acts as a multitude of gadgets, solid shooting mechanics, and some amazing driving sequences.

The story in blood-stone is average bond-fare. M greets you with good morning, there is some international bad-guy about to unleash plans, and you are sent out to shoot and beat the crap out of as many enemy soldiers as it takes to get to the truth. Luckily, bond movies plots were never the highlight (just the presentation of it) and the game doesn't take long at all to thrust you into Mr. Bond's shoes.

The shooting system in Blood Stone is reminiscent *cough* Ripped off  *cough* of Ubisoft's Splinter-Cell: Conviction. For some this may not be a good thing, but I personally loved conviction, and found this to be a perfect implementation of those core mechanics.

Shooting is cover based, and bullets are strong enough to make you use cover wisely. With cover comes the ability to hide, and hiding is the best part of the action. If you are able to succesfully sneak attack (or even just melee) any guard you are granted a focus shot. This means that for a moment you can slow down time and James will automatically line up for a head-shot. This can be chained together for up to a total of 3 instant headshots.

To be honest I found myself doing a great many of beat-downs, as the animations are stellar and the thrill of taking out a room of enemies completely undetected is the equivalent of gaming ambrosia for any title.

In-between quick-draw head-shots and stealth take-downs you will be using your smartphone as your swiss army knife of gadgets. Keeping in mind that this is a Daniel Craig era-bond game, the gadgetry isn't at spotlight here and is really more supportive than anything. You can use your smartphone in a number of ways, such as remotely disabling a camera, or hacking a safe (both achieved with a QTE mini-game) but the majority of your phone is used as a radar/scanner. By pushing down on the d-pad the screen is cast with a static-green filter and you can now see where and how many enemies are in a room, what weapons are present, and what environmental objects will explode.

Last, but certainly not least the other portion of your time in Blood Stone will be spent in the few driving levels. Given that this is from bizarre creations it's not surprising that these are some of the most exciting parts of the game, despite the fact the driving is on rails. You are always chasing someone down in your car, and just getting to the end of the route is the goal. This isn't always easy though as you will be dodging traffic, driving on a frozen river, avoiding helicopter fire, and just generally driving like bond.

All in all, it wont take you very long to get to through the story I spent somewhere around 10 hours in the game. As I said it was originally planned to be a series of sorts, and the story ends on a cliffhanger, but I feel it's still bond-worthy and the ending reminded me of some of the old Sean Connery films, where the real bad guys were always still out there.  

The final point I'd like to establish is that I did not get a chance to try out the multi-player for this game. Every time I logged into their servers there was no one to play with... I'm guessing it didn't have lasting appeal?

In conclusion, Blood Stone was a surprising diamond in the rough. I'm sure you passed over it many times, but the next time you see that red 007 sitting on the shelf pick it up. You won't be disappointed.


Game Over:
Final Score: 7.5 out of 10
"Diamond in the Rough"

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