Blood Stone 007 Review (Xbox 360)

Game Review: Blood Stone 007
Release: November 2, 2010
Genre: Third-person Shooter
Developer: Bizarre Creations (Published by Activision)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo DS, PC
Players: One (Campaign), 2-16 (Xbox Live Multiplayer)
MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: T for Teen

Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, and Joss Stone (who?) play the roles of Bond, M, and Bond Girl in this third-person shooter. Written exclusively for the gaming world, Bond must stop terrorists from manufacturing and deploying biochemical weapons.

Joss Stone in video game form as "Nicole Hunter"

The campaign begins with a cinematic opening as M requests Bond’s immediate presence at the G-20 Summit in Athens. The bad guys are planning to bomb the Summit and eliminate the world’s leaders! Of course, the on-site security has no knowledge of this and refuses to take the appropriate cautionary measures. You save the day as Bond, M delivers a semi-clever line, and thus begins a cookie cutter adventure: Get intel, stealth kill some guards, reach your objective, initiate gun fight, make your escape, speed away to safety. Now that you know the big picture, let’s zoom in and take a closer look at each aspect.

Information is often given to you from M, but other times you must use your Smartphone. Activate your Smartphone by pressing down on the D-pad and the whole screen turns a greenish hue, much like night-vision. Once turned on, everything is revealed: Enemy locations and what gun they are using, your destination, mini-checkpoints of where to go next, and points of interest. This makes it impossible to get lost, which is a good thing in this genre. The Smartphone is an intuitive way to assist the player, but takes away the element of surprise when you know there are three guards around the corner.

Smartphone view. Final destination on the right, mini-checkpoint on the left.

The point of view is third-person, which lends itself to several gameplay mechanics we are familiar with. Finding cover is an essential part of gunfights; you won’t make it far without utilizing corners and barriers. Aiming down the sights is also critical, since the aptly-named “blind firing” is just as effective as a blind man firing. With semi- and automatic weapons, you are forced to fire in bursts or your accuracy plummets.

You also have the ability to “Takedown” enemies without firing a round. When an enemy gets within proximity of you, hit the Takedown button to incapacitate the guard instantly. If you can approach an enemy undetected, you will perform a Stealth Takedown to take out the guard and remain unseen. Either method rewards you with a Focus Aim, which translates to Easy Mode Headshot Insta-Kill. You can obtain up to three Focus Aims at once, which means you can chain three insta-kills to wipe out a patrol in seconds. Did I mention Focus Aims are effective with any weapon at any distance? Hax.

All your guns belong to us.

I was really excited for the first car chase, especially since I would be handling a typical Bond supercar. That excitement was short-lived when I started going so fast I couldn’t see anything. The chase is also scripted, meaning you can’t actually catch the offender until you reach a certain point. My favorite car chase was when I was behind the wheel of a tow truck going 60 MPH, because I could at least see where I was going. It would have been great if the camera was pulled back a little further to afford you the increased visibility.

Why is the ice level always the hardest?

Enough about the campaign! Multiplayer has become an incredibly important part of gaming, especially shooting games. Blood Stone supports system link and Xbox Live gaming up to 16 players in Team Deathmatch, Objective, and Last Man Standing. All modes are team-based, so no free-for-all here.

There is also a customizable weapon loadout system that you can adjust before entering a match. I only use the word “loadout” here because that is what the game uses, but as a Call of Duty player I would hesitate to say that.  You always start the match with an MP5 and if you want a different gun you need to select it from its respective gun rack near your base. If you prefer rifles or snipers, those racks are strangely far away from the spawning point on each map. As a sidenote, the sniper and shotgun classes are garbage: snipers lack fire rate and accuracy and shotguns are impractical considering the lethality of the melee attack.

Bond would do pull-ups while a giant drill is inching closer.

There are five gun classes (pistol, shotgun, SMG, rifle, sniper), but only three guns per class. By consistently playing with a certain gun class, you will unlock more guns inside that class. Like I said, there are only three different guns per class, but you can eventually unlock the silver and gold versions of each gun. Unfortunately, the shiny versions provide no additional perks and are for aesthetic purposes only.

The melee attack is lethal and very sloppy; players can swing at different times but the melee animation will continue until complete and both players will die. The collision detection is inconsistent and camera angles frustrating, causing you to throw your hands in the air with disgust when you get elbowed in the back of the head. Once initiated, you will be stationary while the melee animation is occurring and you cannot interrupt the animation until it is complete. On the other hand, should you score a melee kill, you will get a coveted Focus Aim. As soon as you see an enemy player, Insta-Kill that poor sap.

Textbook use of a corner. Pop out and take care of business.

Regardless of the map, there is only one respawn point per team. Most of the maps are fairly linear, so when one team pushes the other back to their “base,” they are effectively pinning them. On some maps, this will even prevent the pinned team from switching to another weapon type because of the aforementioned location of the gun racks. If you are on the offensive and die, it takes you a solid 30 seconds to run back to where the action is. Each match eventually devolves into a glorified Whack-A-Mole game, with both sides entrenching themselves behind objects and popping out of cover to fire a few shots. This Whack-A-Mole syndrome is compounded by the fact that there are no grenades, making it extremely difficult to force an enemy out of their camping spot.

The campaign ending was anticlimactic, left open to a sequel, and abrupt. The multiplayer can best be summed up as Black Ops’ disadvantaged second cousin, or Call of Duty Lite to be euphemistic. At the most, I would rent this to play through the campaign. As for the multiplayer, treat it like the Grinch and don’t touch it with a ten-and-a-half foot pole.

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