"They got the new GoldenEye with a fancy new controller and all we got was another rip-off 3rd person shooter!" the masses say, clutching their well-worn N64 controller, wracked with guilt over not playing Quantum of Solace in 2008 or, worse, having played GoldenEye: Rogue Agent in 2004.
Allow me to squelch your rage with four simple words, angry mob: Blood Stone is fun.
Blood Stone begins with a terrorist attack at the G20 summit and we jump straight into the action, with Dame Judi Dench as M contacting Daniel Craig's Bond to stop the nefarious plot before a group photo can be taken of the world leaders. That's right ... a group photo. Let that go. Bond is dispatched, things get crazy, there's a boat chase and soon we launch into the pivotal opening credit sequence, complete with a song by long-forgotten singer-turned-Tudors-actress Joss Stone (who also co-stars as the female lead), naked shadows and Bond busting people into sprays of diamonds. Diamonds! Blood Stones! Hokey smokes, it all makes sense now! As far as I can tell, those diamonds are the only reference to anything remotely blood stone-ish in the entire game. Maybe I just missed them.
You'll travel from Greece to Istanbul to Siberia to Bangkok and beyond to try to track down a faceless villain who is either trying to kill a lot of people with WMDs ... or trying to get a bunch of diamonds. I'm not terribly sure, because nearly every mission is a variation on "We've got to get this guy" only to find out it's not the right guy. It's like watching an episode of House, only the 45 minutes of mistaken diagnoses are exchanged for killing a bad guy that isn't the really bad guy.
He's Sonic the James Bond. Double-O-Tails. True story.
Gadgets are not high on this Bond's agenda, save for an annoying smart phone that handles most all things tech. It can scan various objects (nabbing all of the scans in a given level gets you a trophy). It can turn off cameras or hack computers, all with a fairly simple button mashing mini-game. But that's all you get. If you're looking for poison pens and watches with lasers, you're out of luck. This is Daniel Craig's James Bond. He relies on his hands, feet, one pistol and one machine gun at a time. To this light-traveling Bond, even backpacks are gadgets.
The running and shooting is broken up with some driving of boats and several ridiculously fast cars. And by "ridiculously fast", I mean, that even set on Easy, the handling is completely unforgiving. You're tempted to think you shouldn't drive at full speed, only to find that if you don't, the person you're chasing will get away or the helicopter behind you will catch you and blow you into meat sauce. So what do you do to fix this problem? You drive as fast as possible – and die. A lot. You die over and over until you memorize the correct path for the chase. You make it muscle memory to hang left for four seconds and then right for six seconds. It's just like Sonic, if Sonic drove a car and when he hit the wrong thing he died a horrible, grisly death instead of losing a few rings and starting over. He's Sonic the James Bond. Double-O-Tails. True story.
Many previous Bond games that have tried to introduce driving have been so bad that one would think Blofeld was running the game companies just to see Bond flounder and fail. (007 Racing, anyone?) While Bizarre Creations doesn't necessarily take the franchise in any bold new directions, they don't screw up too badly, which is notable, considering the history.
It's not tied to a film, but think of this as more of a Bond adventure when he's on vacation; a fun, action-packed ride, but not necessarily cool or clever enough to warrant a cinematic adventure. Allow yourself to epically crash fast cars and boats for a few hours. Duck and cover while shooting bad guys in the head in bullet time. Wrap your legs around the throats of some Russians and snap their necks before they alert their friends. What more could you ask of Bond?
OK, yes, a relevant title. But other than that, I mean.
This review is based on the PS3 retail version of James Bond: Blood Stone provided by Activision. We also tested the 360 and saw comparable performance. T. Michael Murdock is a professional writer, actor and WoW enthusiast. His novel, The Dragon Ruby is available world-wide. Buy a copy.