Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Darris Reviews: Blood Stone 007

Blood Stone 007 -- A Raptor Inc. Review

What is it? - The latest offering from publisher Activision on the James Bond series. But unlike most 007 video games, this one is not based on a movie. Bizarre Creations, the developers and creators of the fantastic arcade racer Blur, stepped in to give the franchise their take on Bond.

Bizarre Creations... what else did they make? - Their most notable titles include the Project Gotham Racing series, along with the newer Geometry Wars games released on LIVE Arcade, PSN, and NDS.

Had they ever made an action shooter before this one? - Yes, but with mixed results. The last shooter they released before Blood Stone was a very bland, yet fun shooter called The Club. Before that they released a Dreamcast game called Fur Fighters, which I enjoyed a great deal as a young child. All of these shooters, including Blood Stone, are third-person shooters.

So! A Bond game not based on a Bond movie... how did it turn out? - Bad. I am a huge James Bond fan, and I found this story to be almost an insult to 007 movies, even by today's Bond standards. All of the characters that have to do with the story feels like excessive stereotypes of other bond characters, and leave you wishing it were a movie, so you wouldn't have to deal with them for another six hours. Bruce Feirstein, the writer for the game, really slipped up with this title, which is too bad because he usually does well with Bond, writing the film 'Tomorrow Never Dies', and co-writing 'The World is Not Enough'. Its not like he got confused by the video game format either, as he worked on the Bond games 'Everything or Nothing', and the game adaptation of 'From Russia with love'.

Was the writing really that bad? - Never had I played a game and hoped a character would die for no reason. The characters are useless, besides Bond and M, played by Judi Dench. Every created character feels like a waste of ink on the paper they used to write the plot. Joss Stone, a singer, voice acts as Bond's love interest as Nicole Hunter, a jewelry designer. And by the way, that's the only connection to the title of the game. The game centers around bio-weapons and other niche plot devices, and yet the title has almost nothing to do with the game, besides the end, maybe. Overall, I could have never played this game, and would be quite content as a Bond fan. It adds nothing to the series in any way.

OK, so your not a fan of the story. Does the gameplay make up for those shortcomings? - Not exactly. Gameplay consists of three different things; Investigation, in which you use your smart-phone to look for evidence and enemy locations, and also hack doors or computers. Cover-to-cover fighting, in which you move from positions across an area, shooting as your enemy's, and then progress to the next area. And Chase Scenes, in which you chase your target either on foot, or most likely, in a vehicle, as you try to keep up with them. Each part has fun concepts, but in repetition, so get used to doing them over and over and over again.

Investigation sounds fun. What do you do, exactly? - Basically, any time while your playing, you can press down on the d-pad. This allows to you view where your next objective is, where enemy's are if their around, what weapons are in the area, and intelligence to collect, which are usually optional. That's it. It's your only gadget, so get used to using it. It's only real use is to show you where to go, and to hack a door that doesn't even have to be there. The hacking sequence has you press a button in quick succession, with no real penalty if you fail. Overall, a bit of a letdown that there isn't more to do and use.

Right, but what about the meat of the game, the shooting? - The approach to shooting in this game is simple. Hide behind a wall. Shoot bad guys dead. If one gets too close, you can take him down using a single button. After doing a take down, you are given something that slows time and aims at an enemy for you, killing them with one shot, copying the system used in 'Splinter Cell: Conviction'. On the easiest difficulty, you could literally run through the game, hitting one button, and performing take downs on all your enemies. On harder levels, you may need cover every now and again, but not usually, as the A.I. in this game are STUPID. They lose your location easily, and will walk right up to you after you broke their friends arm as if nothing happened, waiting for it to happen to him. The shooting could be better, and I encountered a few glitches with the cover system, but its solid overall. Just boring after a while.

Well, Bizarre Creations are known for racing games, right? How were the chase scenes? - Good, but they don't feel like they belong in this game at all, and some of the chases felt very unnecessary. The vehicles handled well, for the most part, and look very good. One major problem with the chase scenes is the lack of direction while moving. You usually end up crashing right into a wall, or into water, having to restart from a checkpoint, making it feel more like the game 'Stuntman' than anything because of how many times you will spend replaying the same part over and over until you get it right. The cars controlled well, but acted strange when hit at odd angles, sending a car spinning all over the place. Also, the chases scenes seem waaaaay to amped up. I mean, there are explosions everywhere, and everything is falling down from somewhere.

Well, you didn't like it to much, obviously... Any final thoughts on the game? - Bland shooing, bland story, terrible fucking ending. Did I mention its short as well? I played through it on Recruit mode (easy) and Agent mode (hard), and both lasted about 5 hours, 6 for Agent difficulty. There is mutiplayer, but it adds almost nothing. Just your average shooting experience, where other game do the online shooting much better. Chase scenes were OK, and the voice acting wasn't too bad, but the character models look bad. almost as if James Bond was a puppet, and his face would barley move while talking or fighting. In fact, most of the enemy NPC's had better facial animations than Bond, but maybe that because Daniel Craig isn't exactly the best Bond ever.. And that's about it.

Score -- 3 out of 10
With nothing for Bond fans, and nothing for shooter fans, that only leaves racing fans, and this does them no justice as well. If you need to play it, rent it. Re-playability is almost at nothing, but a sub-standard multiplayer makes it so your poor investment choice would at least offer something else after the six hours spent on single player.

- Darris Pratt

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