I love James Bond. The gadgets, the clothes, the accent – he’s the guy every boy wants to grow up to be. I lost many hours of my childhood sitting in the basement playing Goldeneye with my little brother and our two best friends. Nobody was allowed to pick Oddjob (lest he be pummeled throughout the match), and when we got tired of multiplayer we’d run through the missions again seeing how quickly we could complete objectives. Goldeneye was the first game of any appreciable length that I beat more than once, and now I finally have a Bond game that feels like a worthy follow-up.
Blood Stone is equal parts Splinter Cell: Conviction and Project Gotham Racing, and it’s great for it. The shooting feels good, the driving is fun (if a bit unforgiving), and the story is more than enough to keep me playing. As James Bond you’ll infiltrate high-security areas, take out guards with silenced pistol shots, participate in all-out gun fights, and then speed away in your swank ride provided by MI-6. The on-foot action is all third-person which works really well. It allows you to feel more like a spy as you can make use of cover, sneak around a bit easier, and then take out a guard from behind with a melee attack which nets you a focus shot. Focus shots work a lot like marks do in Splinter Cell. You earn them by killing enemies with melee attacks and when you use them you’re granted a one shot kill on your target. The system makes the shooting a bit easier, but it adds immensely to the atmosphere. There’s something wonderful about sneaking up behind a guy, snapping his neck, and then taking out his pal from across the room without alerting anybody.
Where the third-person play falters a bit is the use of the smart phone. Just like Batman’s detective vision is Batman: Arkham Asylum you will spend the majority of your time in this mode. It makes sense that you’d have your phone out all of the time – it highlights enemy positions, the trail to your next objective, and any scannable objects. What it also does is ruin the aesthetic of feel of the game. When was the last time you watched a Bond movie where he was looking at his phone 75% of the time? It’s challenging to keep the virtual phone in your polygonal pocket, but the whole experience is better when the phone is used sparingly.
After you’ve dispatched all of your enemies it’s time to hop in your car and make your getaway. Bizarre Creations has a great reputation for driving games with the PGR series and the criminally underappreciated Blur so it should be no surprise that the cars control well, and the driving sequences are well-done. The requirements can be a bit unforgiving, but everything is doable, and you’ll feel like a super spy when you’ve successfully driven across a frozen lake while being assaulted from behind and lived to tell the tale. All of the driving section are set pieces, and they all feel great within the context of the game.
Blood Stone’s multiplayer is competent but wholly unnecessary. There are team Deathmatch, Objective, and Last Man Standing modes available. All are by the book and while there was no noticeable lag there also isn’t a very large population of people playing. The perspective is shifted from third to first-person, but if you want to play a multiplayer shooter then Halo: Reach and Modern Warfare 2 are probably still your best bets. Blood Stone is strong enough to stand on its own as a single-player game, and you shouldn’t let the by-the-numbers multiplayer stop you from experiencing the single-player mode.
Blood Stone may not have a movie attached to it, but if you like action spying then pick this one up. There are plenty of goons to shoot, car chases to complete, and it’s great to see Daniel Craig as Bond again.
Pros: Good shooting mechanics, Focus shot mechanic is fun to use and makes you feel like a spy.
Cons: It is too easy to abuse the smart phone.