Thursday, June 9, 2011

Blood Stone 007

            Considering that Goldeneye was a Wii exclusive, Activision apparently felt that the other consoles had to get a Bond game, too.  Or maybe it was vice versa.  Who knows at this point.  Either way, the game they decided on was Blood Stone.  I’ve already put up a review of Goldeneye, and compared to that, I’d say that the PS3 and 360 got the better game.
            The story involves the capture of a scientist who was working on a dangerous new disease.  Bond has to track him down and stop the man who’s behind it.  It’s a cool Bond plot…at first.  Halfway through the game, you kill the person behind it.  At this point, you’re completely left out of whatever plot is going on.  Things just seem to happen randomly.  At the end, it threw a twist at me that I predicted, but it didn’t make any damn sense.  I tend to throw twists at the wall and see what sticks, and the honest fact is that this one shouldn’t have stuck.  Overall, the plot ends up pointless and confusing.
            The gameplay holds up much better.  It’s a third-person shooter based around cover.  I can’t help comparing it to Goldeneye, which also had a significant focus on cover.  This does it better.  For one, many of the situations are more focused in one direction.  There’s far less cases for enemies to completely surround and destroy you.  You still can’t throw grenades even though enemies can, but they threw far less grenades (at most, I’d say I saw 6 in all my time of playing).  The fact that the cover system is more naturally built in also helps.  There’s a few problems with it, though.  In frantic firefights, it’s too easy for Bond to get caught up on the wrong side of a wall.  It seems completely random as to whether you can vault over cover or not.  And the camera can easily screw you up as you turn corners.  My tip: Make sure to adjust the camera before moving on.  Otherwise, Bond gets out of cover and stands with a huge target on his chest.
            It also infuses some optional stealth into the gameplay.  Again, this is handled better than Goldeneye.  Stealth-killing enemies is better done, letting you kill them without leaving cover.  Failing a stealth section doesn’t throw in a horde of enemies at you, it simply alerts all the enemies in the area.  Doing it correctly also gives you a better reward.  Each enemy you kill by stealth or melee kills gives you a focus shot, which is a one-hit kill on enemies.  It’s a nice, useful reward.  It’s also made easier thanks to your smartphone.  At any time, you can pull it out, and it acts as an in-game radar, showing you where enemies are and where you need to go next.  It made the stealth very well done, and in general, it was some of the best-done stealth I’ve seen in a non-stealth game.
            To give you a little variety in the gameplay, they’ve also brought back driving sections.  They’re…mixed.  Developer Bizarre Creations also worked on the Project Gotham series, so at least they have some reputation with this.  However, it almost felt too realistic and frustrating at times.  If you hit a car during a chase, you might as well just wait for the Restart screen to show up, because you’re either spun out or simply not going to catch up.  The one chase where everything clicked was in Bangkok, where you chase after a gigantic truck.  While it took a while for me to get used to the car (you’re driving a tow truck in the rain), once I did, it was a thrilling and fun chase.  The chases are also filled with checkpoints, so you never have to start from the beginning.
            The game has a few other significant problems.  For one, it’s short.  There’s 5 levels, not counting the opening and epilogue sequences.  The game can easily be beaten in a weekend rental.  There is a multiplayer mode, which I didn’t try, so that may add time for some people.  It’s also nice-looking, but terribly animated.  When you’re just driving and shooting through the scenery, it’s fine.  In cinematics which focus on people talking, though, their mouths move up and down like a stiff marionette.  Considering how poor the plot is already, it’s like they simply expected people to hit the skip button as soon as they could.
            Overall, though, it’s worth giving Blood Stone a try.  It may be light on gameplay time, but in that time, you’re given plenty of Bond action and setpieces.  Shame the story couldn’t match up, but hey, you can’t have everything.

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