James Bond 007 Blood Stone There’s one James Bond game coming out this year that’s got 007 fans cocking their golden guns in anticipation. Then there’s Blood Stone 007. While Wii and DS owners are being treated to a re-imagining of one of the most beloved console shooters of all time in GoldenEye 007, PC-owning Bond fans have to make do with a consolation prize in the form of a third-person shooter from Project Gotham Racing makers, Bizarre Creations. And as far as consolation prizes go, this is about as comforting as an open-mouthed kiss from Dame Judi Dench.
Dench and Daniel Craig reprise their roles of M and Bond in Blood Stone 007, while pop singer Joss Stone steps in as the token Bond girl Nicole Hunter. And those are basically the only obligations to the Bond license that this game fulfills. Otherwise there are no memorable villains, no signature gadgets – even the Bond theme music doesn’t properly play until the final credits roll – and the only moment even vaguely resembling any form of fan service is the time you get to briefly step behind the wheel of the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger, albeit for no apparent reason. Otherwise this could be any other bog standard third-person shooter with Daniel Craig’s expressionless face smeared across it.
The plot has you chasing biochemical terrorists across a handful of exotic locations in Europe and Asia, and at times the game can be quite visually striking – like when you’re escaping an exploding oil refinery in Siberia, or chasing a monolithic earth mover across crumbling highway overpasses in Bangkok. Unfortunately such moments are both fleeting and few and far between, and Blood Stone’s five hour campaign is mostly padded out with repetitive firefights against brainless henchmen with the odd interactive cutscene to spice things up every now and then.
Aside from the use of explosive barrels to take out your opposition – which comes direct from chapter one, page one of the FPS textbook – the main hook to Blood Stone’s otherwise generic cover-based combat is the Focus Aim feature, which is basically a carbon copy of Splinter Cell: Conviction’s Mark and Execute system, only in this case it doesn’t really present any genuinely strategic benefits to the gameplay. For every context-sensitive melee takedown you perform on an enemy (Bond smashes their face into a table top and/or cuddles them into a deep sleep) you’re awarded a Focus kill – and you’re able to store up to three of them at any one time. When activated the Focus Aim mechanic allows you to swiftly dispatch enemies with a few quick button taps/mouse clicks.
On the game’s lower difficulty levels, Focus Aim is entirely unnecessary thanks to the Call of Duty-style targeting that automatically snaps to an enemy each time you zoom in, making it easy to pull off headshots without the need for any further assistance. But even on the higher difficulty levels there’s no tangible gameplay rewards for being stealthy, so whilst Focus Aim might be a slightly quicker and more stylish way to dispatch enemy goons it’s far from essential, and at times we forgot it was even there.