* Prices may differ from that shown
Having played 007 Quantum Of Solace on the Ps3 (and having enjoyed it immensely), I decided to purchase Bloodstone 007 for the Ps3. There seems to be a large amount of 007 based games coming out at the moment (there will soon be almost as many games as films - I speak flippantly of course), this is, in my opinion one of the better of the bunch. As I don't own the game on any other console, I cannot comment on anything but the Ps3 version.
In my opinion, as with most of the games on seventh generation consoles, the Bloodstone 007 graphics are very good, characters and scenery look very lifelike. Visually, game menus are relatively standard looking (a picture representing each level) and there is a little intro clip to sit up each level. In my opinion, the graphics of Bloodstone 007 are good but similar in level to most other Ps3 games.
I like the fact that Bloodstone 007 is not based upon any of the 007 films (the first time the 007 games have done this for quite a while), this means that the game is not limited to the plot of any film and keeps you guessing right until the end. Similarly, I feel that the gameplay of Bloodstone 007 represent a step up from that of 007 Quantum Of Solace, gone are the inconsistencies of switching between first person and third person (Bloodstone 007 is entirely in the third person) and the annoyingly difficulty of trying to cross walkways (in Quantum of Solace 007 you had to cross walkways by keeping your balance, very difficult). In my opinion, Bloodstone 007 is very well laid out (the game is divided into 6 chapters, by location - Athens, Istanbul, Monaco, Siberia, Bangkok and Burma, with several levels in each location), has enough to keep any level of gamer happy (there is the introduction of a 'Focus Aim' perk, awarded after you take down an enemy with your hands, which effectively kills your enemy with one shot, whilst even on easy mode it took me several times to complete certain levels) and breaks the story up well(stealth levels, shoot em up levels and car levels intersperse each other nicely). The controls of the game are relatively standard to the James Bond series (R1 to fire gun, L2 to focus your aim etc), although Bloodstone 007 does have some nice extra touches (the introduction of a smartphone, which, when turned on, helps you to find where you are meant to be is an especially helpful tool). In all I am very impressed with the gameplay of Bloodstone 007.
Value for Money
In my opinion, Bloodstone 007 represents relatively good value for money (at £7.13 and £2.03 postage, on Amazon, it is pretty cheap for a Ps3 game). Similarly, with 17 chapters there is more than enough to keep someone occupied for a couple of weeks, at least. However, I feel that Bloodstone 007 doesn't necessarily provide good replay value (once you have played the game through once, you know what to expect if you try it again), there is the standard inclusion of harder settings (although if you're like me, you can never be bothered to play a game on anything other than 'easy' mode). Equally, although the online mode is good, it is never going to compete with the far better shoot em up online modes found in the Call of Duty games.
I am pretty impressed with Bloodstone 007 for the Ps3, I feel it represents relatively good value for money, as it can be bought quite cheaply and has enough levels to keep somebody involved for longer than a couple of days. However, I feel that the game has little in the way of replay value, as when you have completed the game, you know what to expect the second time round. The game is very well set out, easy to navigate your way around menus (given that it is divided into convenient chapters) and I like the fact that the game isn't based around the plot of a film (less formulaic than its predecessor, 007 Quantum of Solace). In conclusion I would recommend this game, as I feel that it has enough to keep gamers of all level happy.
So we have the release of yet another Bond game alongside the release of a movie not really that surprising with the franchise these days.
I enjoyed quantum of solace and so had higher expectations of this game than the last. I'll be honest I have enjoyed it and feel it's a decent game but was slightly dissapointed with the more of the same approach with regard to the game play.
There are a number of difficulty settings to complete the game on which is great because it opens the range of people the game appeals to up although it does mean I felt some in game action was sacrificed. It could've been made more difficult and enhanced enjoyment even more.
Again it follows the story well and there are plenty of action sequences and take downs and shoot em ups for you to perform. But I do feel this left a somewhat bitter taste in the mouth compared to the last bond game. It didn't advance enough for me I'm afraid although I did enjoy it and I do still play it I feel they could've developed it more.
Again there's plenty of choice in the weaponry to satisfy every taste in some way and there are lots of trophies to be had at different stages of the game. The only big downside for me is as a novice to online gameplay I found it hard to understand what the multiplayer games were about and what I had to do and resorted to not playing online because I was getting knocked out of a game within seconds and it just ruined the fun.
Not a bad game but not as good as expected
Like any self-respecting global mega franchise, every James Bond film nowadays is accompanied without fail by a video game that launches itself onto shop shelves around about the time that the movie is released. Yet unusually Bond games are never pre judged as mediocre and dismissed out of hand in the same way that most other movie tie ins are. And with good reason, because the world famous James Bond movie franchise has also produced one of the finest video games ever made in the form of Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64, released all the way back in 1997. To this day Bond fans and computer game fans alike live in hope that the next James Bond game will live up to the past glory of Goldeneye, and bring with it renewed hope that, just because a game is associated with a film, it doesn't mean that it can't climb swiftly to the top of the video gaming tree.
And so we come to Blood Stone, the latest James Bond game to try to escape from the under the Goldeneye shadow. But even before this review gets going I can't help but hear the murmurings of confusion from the assembled masses. Is there actually a James Bond film called Blood Stone? Well no, actually, there isn't. The new Bond film, which is currently nameless and carries the tantalisingly vague title of "Bond 23", had its production suspended throughout 2010, and has only just started up again. It is currently due for release in November 2012. This means that despite starring the 'current' James Bond in the form of Daniel Craig, Blood Stone is not actually connected to a film at all. So as a standalone computer game, does Blood Stone actually come even slightly close to taking Goldeneye's throne?
I MUST BE DREAMING
Despite not having a movie to base itself on, there is no doubt that Blood Stone feels very much like a Bond escapade from the outset, and as is tradition that outset takes the form of a classic James Bond action sequence. However, in a clear attempt to modernise the series somewhat, Bond finds himself not in a fight to the death against a sneaky Communist, but instead he's clambering to stop a suicide bombing on the G20 summit. Still, the pace of the opening is just as quick and exciting as you would expect.
And indeed, beyond the opening the design of the game is very much in keeping with the Bond tradition. Much like the general plots of Daniel Craig's adventures, the main plot in Blood Stone is one that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, and trying to keep up with it all the way may well lead to an element of confusion. But as with the movies, keeping up with the plot is not really the point. In Casino Royale, everyone was less concerned with the complicated and alleged devilishly underhand share meddling scheme that Le Chifre was aiming for, and more focused on simply how Bond was going to win a game of poker. The same can be said of Blood Stone. The plot essentially serves as a mechanism to catapult Bond through a number of intense situations and varied environments, to the point where the fact that the plot might not make a whole lot of sense doesn't really matter. Simply put, the plot does what the game needs it to do, so can't really be criticised overall.
As well as the varied environments and quick paced plot, Blood Stone also features the vocal talents of Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench, no doubt reprising their roles as James Bond and M on their days off while they were waiting for filming to start up again on "Bond 23", and both do as good a job as you would expect. The excellent orchestral score, containing the expected mix of bangs and crashes as well as dramatic music, rounds things off nicely. Overall, the presentation of Blood Stone really can't be faulted. It clearly has excellent production values, as one would expect, and crucially it does actually feel like a Bond adventure, which at the end of the day is what anyone would realistically demand from the presentation side of things.
THIS MUST BE MY SECOND LIFE
So Blood Stone certainly feels like a Bond movie recreated as a video game, albeit without the movie part to lean on for support, but what of the gameplay that it offers? Does the game offer the player the chance to partake in the eclectic mix of activities shown in your average Bond film? In short, yes it does. Blood Stone is very much a hybrid of genres, and the best way to analyse the gameplay is simply to take each of the main types of gameplay in turn.
The core gameplay is very much your traditional shooter, with the player taking control of Bond from a third person perspective, and proceeding to take on hoardes of enemy henchman. The shooting mechanics themselves rely heavily on a cover system, encouraging the player to take cover behind a variety of objects, and to pop out and take shots at enemies as and when the opportunity arises. In this regard there can be no complaints; the core shooting controls are responsive and solid enough, with gunshots feeling suitably meaty and satisfying. The shooting mechanics may not set the world on fire, but equally they aren't going to frustrate either.
Accompanying the basic shooting is a further option that's available to the player in terms of melee combat. In other words, if you find yourself too close to comfort to an enemy, or just fancy running at your opponent in a bit of a zealous manner, the game will allow you to take down a henchman from close range using a variety of hand to hand combat techniques and take downs. Crucially, these moves are satisfying and varied, and quite simply never get old. A close quarters take down will also earn you a "focus kill", which allows you to take down further enemies with brutally efficient headshots. For those who have played Splinter Cell Conviction, the "focus kill" system s essentially a carbon copy of the "mark and execute" system from that game. Stringing these together can create exhilarating moments in the shooting sections, which really are highlights in themselves.
Unfortunately the third person sections have their own flaws. Despite the moments of adrenaline pumping action, there's no hiding from the fact that plenty of aspects of these sections lack any sort of innovation. The two aspects that are most apparent are in the variety of enemies and weapons. Specifically, there isn't much of either. Enemies are almost exclusively standard henchman, with nothing to separate one group from another in terms of threat or personality. Weapons consist of your standard pistols, machineguns and so on, but again nothing to excite or inspire. Perhaps I'm expecting too much here, but ultimately the lack of variety in these sections seems a little lazy.
The second main gameplay type is the vehicle sections, which typically sees the player jumping behind the wheel of a snazzy car and chasing some unfortunate bad guy through a variety of environments. These sections were the highlight of the game for me, with the tension and excitement rarely letting up. The controls are solid, the environments are eye catching, and the difficulty is such that the sections are satisfying without being frustrating. Again, in judging the game against natural competitors, there is nothing in these sections to reach the excitement levels seen in the likes of Need For Speed Hot Pursuit, but in the circumstances this can be forgiven, and is not a major gripe.
There are other aspects to the gameplay, with the main lesser activity involving the use of gadgets to crack codes, hack into computer systems and so on. Unfortunately this branch of the gameplay is by far the weakest, with each scenario as dull and uninspiring as the last. They all feel the same, and whilst I appreciate that the intention with these sections is to break up the pace, they do so in a negative way. There is rarely any real reason why these sections need to be done by the player and not handled in a cutscene, and considering how weak the gameplay in this regard is, you'll find yourself wishing that the game had glossed over them without any effort on the part of the player.
YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, MR BOND
But how do those different gameplay styles tie together in the end? The answer is that fundamentally they create an experience that could potentially have been very good. The problem is that the single player campaign is very short, with about five or six hours of gamepay at most. To make matters worse, after the intense opening sequence, the game takes perhaps half of that to actually pick up any kind of pace. The second half of the campaign is a blast and thoroughly satisfying, but by the time you have played through a few hours of uninspiring campaign levels, a few hours of good quality gameplay is the least that you should expect. Ultimately, despite its strong moments, it seems difficult to recommend the campaign considering its short length and uninspiring first half.
Graphically there is a stark contrast between the more epic environments found in the driving sections, and those found in the shooting sections. Whilst the driving sections are glossy, smooth, and generally rather eye catching, the third person sections are a little bland by comparison. There is certainly nothing horrific about the graphics in the third person sections, but equally there is nothing to set them apart, something that a James Bond game should certainly be aiming for.
Finally, Blood Stone also features a multiplayer mode. Up to now the keen eyed will have noticed a theme that, despite some highlights and solid moments, this game is undermined badly by mediocrity in too many areas. These failures are summed up entirely by the multiplayer mode, which features gunfights between groups of human players, in Team Deathmatch, Last Man Standing or Objective modes. The gameplay here is significantly slower with the "focus kill" system unavailable, and there is no driving or similar in the multiplayer. In other words, it is utterly bland, with the best parts of the single player gameplay removed, and only standard multiplayer modes available. This would be bitterly disappointing for any game, but is even more so for a game that, as previously stated, should be aiming significantly higher.
YOU HAVE A LICENCE TO KILL, NOT GET KILLED
Blood Stone is a game that has its moments. It really does. There are times when you'll put a free flowing combination of shooting and melee combat together to take out henchman when the game feels invigorating and satisfying. Plenty of moments during the driving sections will have the same effect. Unfortunately these standout moments are buried beneath of torrent of mediocrity and lack of ambition. And whilst the good moments do exist, they will be forgotten in favour of the woefully short and poorly paced campaign as a whole and the unacceptably bland multiplayer.
Is it worth a purchase under any circumstances? Perhaps, but only for those who are desperate for some Bond action until the next movie comes along. Even then, this game won't occupy anyone for much longer than the brief campaign takes to finish, and as such I can only recommend picking this up at a bargain price. Anything more would be a waste of money.
In fact, if you do have a James Bond itch that needs scratching, the full game price of £30 could buy you a second hand Nintendo 64 with a copy of Goldeneye. That might be a better option, simply because it will remind you that the James Bond licence can be used to inspire gaming gold. All that Blood Stone will do will shake that resolve to the core, and remind you that most movie tie ins really are just distinctly average, even those which don't strictly have movies to go with them.