Besides Star Wars
and Indiana Jones
, I can't think of any other universe that came from a different medium to fit so well into video games than the James Bond
franchise. Stories with malevolent baddies, beautiful (if sometimes two-dimensional) damsels, beautiful vistas, and an ass-kicking super secret agent practically scream for video game adaptations to occur. Bond's track record is a pretty decent one in the video game world, as the franchise has crafted one of the most beloved first-person shooters of all time: Goldeneye
. And while the esteemed classic is getting a modern-day adaptation on the Wii, I took a look at it's development-brother, Blood Stone 007
, which is the first Bond game since Everything or Nothing
to have an original story set for a video game.
Developed by Bizarre Creations and Published by Activision, Blood Stone
takes place with James Bond (voiced by Daniel Craig) teaming up with wealthy socialite Nicole Hunter (Joss Stone) to help foil an evil organization bent on utilizing biological agents. Judi Dench and Daniel Craig both reprise their roles from the movie franchise and do a great job at voice acting as they're never over-dramatic or phoning in the performance (*cough*TobeyMaguireinSpider-man2:TheVideoGame
*cough*). It's really nice to see how dedicated these actors are to their roles, but then again, a dumptruck full of money from Activision is also a pretty nice persuading element, as well. While Craig is still good as Bond, he's never fully utilized. While it was once acceptable for a video game based on movies to just reach the bare minimum of characterization, these days you have to up the ante. Bond is never as fully developed as he was in the film Casino Royale
or as emotionally motivated as he was in Quantum of Solace
. It's just another Bond outing which makes the ending tease of a sequel seem really out of place since nothing substantial happens in the story to Bond. There's only one individual that may or may not be tied to the mysterious organization 'Quantum' in the new James Bond films, but he's never actually discussed until the end, and even then, there's almost nothing there to even connect the two ideas together.
The story is written by Bruce Feirstein, a veteran in writing James Bond
films, which sounds promising right from the get-go. The problem is that they're the wrong films. Feirstein wrote for the Pierce Brosnan-era James Bond
films, which were (at least the first two) good entries in my opinion, but almost completely different in terms of tone, and it shows. Events such as a battle with a hovercraft that appears to be modeled after the Millennium Falcon and our hero surviving not one, but two impossible car crashes without a scratch that would have killed a regular human being really do make the audience pull back and wonder what they're playing. The game tries to have the outrageous action of Brosnan's films while maintaining the more visceral and sober atmosphere of Craig's adaptation of Bond - unfortunately, it achieves neither. The locales are beautiful and the action will always push you forward to see what you'll discover around the bend, but don't expect the story to tug at your heart or challenge your mind. There's plot holes abound, but the game really does let you wear the shoes of Bond: enter Casinos in your formal-wear like a boss, sneak around security, and engage in fast-paced firefights.
The character textures are not the most detailed, but the animations give a solid effort at emoting when needed. The locales are varied and detailed as you'll be barreling down the streets of Bangkok in a truck at one moment and watching a chemical factory explode around you the next. The driving in the game is fast and furious, with a heavy emphasis on the 'furious' since on a few given levels you'll have to do trial-and-error in order to figure out just where the hell the game world wants you to go. There's intel scattered across the game that enrich the story and world of Blood Stone
- a small addition that really adds depth to the gameworld. The real meat of the gameplay (the 3rd-person action) is a nice blend of the gameplay mechanics from Splinter Cell: Conviction
and The Bourne Conspiracy
, appropriately enough. You'll sneak around, take shots from behind cover, and do one-hit takedowns which gives the player the opportunity for one-shot kills. The mechanics certainly do their job, but their is a sense of finesse that is lacking whenever you try to slide back into cover after knocking out an enemy. There's a multiplayer element as well, but why bother with it? I'm actually surprised that Bizarre Creations didn't just axe the bland multiplayer element in favor of polishing the main game. The only noticeable game type besides the standard team-deathmatch is the MI6 vs. Mercenaries objective-based mode, but it isn't enough to carry the weight of the multiplayer element.Blood Stone 007
offers another action-packed, if dissapointing, entry into the world of James Bond; it's too bad they didn't spend as much time with the story and dialogue as they did designing the set-pieces.
My rating: Rental
"No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to respawn!"