James Bond games have not been very dependable as good games since Goldeneye. Now I am not saying they have all been bad, they just have not been must have titles. Activision enlisted the folks at Bizarre Creations to create the latest Bond title, Bloodstone, and I have to say that it was an enjoyable game to play from start to finish. The presentation and general game mechanics are at the top of the list for things that the game did well. With several other espionage games and one certain Sam Fisher its difficult for any game based on espionage to not be accused of copying the stronger franchise. Many critics have flat out said that Bloodstone was a direct rip off of Splinter Cell in many aspects. I beg to differ somewhat because if my memory serves me correctly, Bond was around long before Sam Fisher was ever even a thought in a developerís head.
The game is presented more as a movie with pretty interesting cut scenes and at times breathtaking cut scenes. The first glimpse of superb graphics comes in the beginning of the game when Bond jumps out of the plane and skydives. I honestly had to look at it twice to figure out if it was real or CGI. Throughout the game you will find moments of visual brilliance and then youíll get your so-so moments as well. The environments are designed quite well and actually represent Bond like settings and atmospheres that you can remember from any of the movies. For instance car chases through narrow European streets are captured perfectly and I wouldnít have expected less from the folks that were responsible for the PGR series.
There are plenty of great moments in the sound category especially with the voiceover work. Youíll get original voices from the current real life Bond cast which adds to the cinematic style presentation of the game. And most of the secondary voice work is well done and not bland in any way. All of the voiceover work definitely lends intensity and suspense to the storyline. As for the gun fire, explosions and environmental sounds you wonít find anything that makes you say wow, but none the less it still adds to the overall feel of the game and the presentation. Whatís a Bond storyline without lots of explosions and gunfire? No worries, there is plenty of it in the game.
Youíll have the voiceover work of Daniel Craig who of course plays the real life Bond in the movies as well as Judi Dench and Joss Stone lending their vocals into the mix as well. All of the voiceover work is pretty believable and does build into the story very well. Joss Stone even does the theme song for the game ďIíll Take It AllĒ. I think using the actual movie character voices along with the extras helped make the game better and more cinematic.
I was however a bit disappointed with the car sounds, especially since it was Bizarre Creations. Something just didnít seem quite right. I felt like I was driving the Ashton Martin DBR9 and for PGR fans, you know how dicey that car was to control. Oh wait there is a time you do actually drive the DBR9 in the game. I did enjoy how the Koenegsigg CCX handled even when driving on ice.
So the world of Bond is full of gadgets, guns and lots of bad guys that continually come out of the cracks. There are a few ladies in Bonds world and youíll have the opportunity to interact with one through some of the storyline. One very handy device you will have with you at all times is your smartphone. The smartphone will help you identify your path through the level as well as identify objectives. Itíll even help you find weapons and hidden items as well. With the simple press of the D-Pad you can activate the smartphone and youíll go into a computerized imagery of the environment. I am assuming itís what Bond would see on his screen of the phone. Enemies will be marked that are close by as well other points of interest.
Youíll also use your phone to hack into computers, disable security cams and talk with your headquarters. When hacking and disabling security cams youíll have a mini based game where youíll press buttons in a certain sequence as they appear on screen. Youíll have to be timely with it or youíll fail. Now, I did not run into any repercussions when failing but I am sure at some point if you do it enough times that guards are alerted.
Itís a gun battle most of the time in Bond with big explosions and lots of bullets ricocheting around you. Youíll have a silenced pistol on you at all times, but you can pick up many different types of weapons from small machine guns to assault rifles to scoped sniper rifles. In all honesty, you just need lots of bullets for the onslaught of enemies approaching you at all times when in combat. As I said earlier, they seem to just come out of the cracks once a firefight breaks out.
Now with any espionage game, there are times when you will want to be stealthy and move about the level without being spotted. Youíll also have the ability to make stealth takedowns on enemies as they walk past you as long as they donít see you first. Takedowns can be performed on unsuspecting enemies as they come around a corner you are hiding at, or when you sneak up behind them. You can also pull guys out of windows, again as long as they are not alerted to your presence. This is all done with the simple press of the X button when the target is in range.
These takedowns are hand to hand and will actually give you something called focused aim for your shooting ability. Youíll earn one focused aim for each takedown you perform, up to a total of 3 at one time in your inventory. Once you have focused aim, you can then hit the left bumper and pull the trigger and youíll make one shot kills on the enemies in front of you. This comes in handy when getting overwhelmed by the enemy.
The game will also have you in several driving sequences throughout the storyline. Once again, I really expected a PGR type of experience but was a little disappointed in that respect as the cars didnít handle nearly as well as I expected them to. Anyhow, these car chases are mainly a cat and mouse game where you have to keep up with a target while meandering through exploding terrain or downtown streets. I will say the driving interludes are nice breaks from the constant gunfire battles. Youíll have quite a bit of restarting since the driving in certain areas is a knee jerk reaction style of decision making. If you make the wrong turn, especially on the river run, youíll be starting back at a checkpoint.
That brings me to the checkpoints in the game. Thankfully they are fairly numerous and you wonít have to do too much repetition in gameplay to get back to the point you died. Now you will have plenty of time to get into cover before dying as the screen will start to become read signally you are on your way to the pearly gates. Just use the cover system and get behind something with the press of A and wait for your health to regenerate. A lot of the game is play and learn as you go through and thatís why I am so glad the checkpoints are abundant. If they were not, I think I would have put this game down fairly quickly. You can also choose to play on 4 difficulty levels from Recruit to Bond. The Bond difficulty will give even the most veterans gamers a run for their money.
Besides the single player storyline there is also plenty of multiplayer online to be played. There are three different game types to play online: Team DeathMatch, Last Man Standing and Objective. All of the game modes are pretty self explanatory with both team Death Match and Objective being team based game modes. While there isnít anything in multiplayer that is a must see or new to the shooter genre players will have some fun with it and of course there are Leaderboards to compare yourself with the world.
Overall, Bloodstone is a pretty good Bond story and one that I enjoyed playing. Is it a must play for everyone? No. But, if you are a fan of shooters or even Bond than itís one you should play. Controls in the game are for the most part pretty good with the exception of the driving mechanics that I expected to be so much better. At times youíll get a little frustrated with the jumping from ledge to ledge because you lose a little bit of control but again itís nothing major. Graphically I like how the game is presented in a movie style cinematic scenario and the story itself is you typical Bond sequence of situations. No, this isnít Call of Duty and shouldnít be compared even though itís a shooter. Itís just a nice break from all the chaos online in Call of Duty or other popular shooters for that matter. I enjoyed the game and I think most folks will too if they give it a chance.