Monday, December 20, 2010

James Bond 007: Blood Stone – Crush! Frag! Review!

Despite the nostalgia felt for the Nintendo 64′s GoldenEye (it’s not as good as you remember), 007′s only had one truly great video game adaptation: 2004′s Everything or Nothing (it’s better than you remember). Oddly enough, it was a third-person shooter, kicking the precedent set by previous Bond titles — Tomorrow Never Dies for PS1 not withstanding.

Upon the announcement of Bizarre Creations’ new take on Daniel Craig’s version of James “Blonde,” my mind raced back to sitting on my parents’ basement couch, spending way too much time replaying that pesky stealth mission and going head-to-head with an anachronistic Jaws, and I hoped that some supernatural force would shine its light down upon Blood Stone and take me back to those happy days. But it turns out that the light was shining up from below, and that the supernatural force was, in fact, the Devil.
A more appropriate name for Bond’s new mission would be something like “Straight Line: The Game.” Not only are levels nearly impossible to get turned around in, but if Bond could set down a skateboard and ‘dude’ his way through the stereotypical super villain hang-out zones, Blood Stone might resemble Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam. There are points, namely during chase sequences, when the player-controlled protagonist literally cannot fire any bullets until the game lets him. Even then, there’s hardly any aiming required and whatever the computer lets you shoot at always explodes in the most convenient fashion.

The case could certainly be made that the game’s creators simply wanted you to feel like you’re in a James Bond story, complete with those epic, destructive set pieces we’re all so familiar with from the films. That’s fine, as long as you don’t mind watching the game control itself during those awesome moments and wondering not only, “Why am I not doing this?” but also “Boy, I’m sure tired of looking at his back. Another camera angle would be nice.”
During those precious times when control over 007 is yours, opportunity arises to murder hundreds of innocent guards without any moral repercussions. Taking up any seemingly endlessly supplied peashooter will provide that violent outlet, especially since there’s no difficulty in doing so. Pulling back on the left trigger will line up the poor sap and the right will do him in. Easy squeezy. If you really want to decimate the playing field, however, using the never-failing X button while up close will slice and dice an enemy faster than you can say “Slap Chop!” Doing this provides “Focus Aims,” which are essentially a knock-off of Splinter Cell: Conviction‘s “Mark and Execute” moves, except here it’s just “Execute.”

Never fear! Bizarre made Project Gotham Racing and Blur, right? The driving must be plentiful and great! While the former is certainly true, the Rule of Straight Lines applies here more than ever. Remember all that slick dodging and weaving Bond does in his nifty rides? You get to do that! And if you don’t, expect numerous, painful, and lengthy ‘Restart to Checkpoint’ situations. Other cars manage to fly right in front of you, around you, and sometimes above you in an effort to push your skills to the limit! Thanks to the punishing restarts and “Hey man, you’re too slow!” fail conditions, these sequences sometimes feel like a Stuntman rip-off — and no, that’s not good, you idiot Stuntman lovers.
James Bond 007: Blood Stone is the most disappointing game I’ve played in a long while. I had considerably high hopes for another solid Bond adventure to scurry through, but this isn’t it. The multiplayer mode isn’t even worth trying — if the network can sustain a match long enough for you to get a kill, that is. It’s a sad, miserable package — and I’m not just talking about James Bond’s junk, either (there’s not even any sex in this game — blasphemy!).

Things We Liked: Acceptable shooting mechanics. Gives the “feel” of a Bond movie at times. Melee combat is stylish and cool.

Things We Disliked: Extremely linear. Takes control away from the player at nearly every opportunity. Frustrating chase sequences. Combat is for babies.

Target Audience: Babies for the shooting. Masochists for the driving. Moms who want a “clean” James Bond experience – no sex here! Stuntman-loving jerk holes.


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