Retro Game Reviews

Retro Review: James Bond 007: Blood Stone

James Bond 007: Blood Stone, Activision

The James Bond movies have been a huge disappoint as of late. The last good one was Casino Royale, but even then that movie didn’t hold a candle to Sean Connery’s movies. What I liked most about Casino Royale was the fact that the story was amazing and based on the very first Ian Fleming book of the same name. The studio didn’t produce a movie that stretched too far from the source material, and I thought that Daniel Craig’s movies were about to rival those of Connery’s. I was wrong, and the slow death of one of the best literary characters in a decade had begun, and I couldn’t stomach myself to watch Bond go out like that. I watched Quantum of Solace only once and suffered through Skyfall with the only redeeming quality being Javier Bardem’s amazing villain. I never watched Spectre and realized that if I wanted a good Bond movie, I’d have to watch the old ones. Then one day I watched a “Hidden Gems” video and saw Blood Stone in action. My interest was piqued—not only was Daniel Craig in the game, but the story was an original one. I hunted down a copy for my Xbox 360 and haven’t regretted it since. Sadly, it was Bizarre Creations’ final game. They shuttered their studio less than three months after releasing this title due to the fact that Activision could not find a buyer. This is disturbing, considering how well they used James Bond and how amazing the graphics were for a 2010 Xbox 360 title.

The story in this game, as mentioned earlier, is an originally penned tale by Bruce Feirstein, who understands Bond and his world. I’ve read several of the Flemming novels, and I believe that Feirstein has read them all: he understands Bond, what makes him tick, and what makes him loved by fans. In the books, Bond is a cold-blooded, womanizing MI6 agent with a license to kill, and man does he use it. Feirstein understands this and shows it during the cut scenes when Bond is dealing with criminals; its great! After an amazing opening level, you get down to the story: M tasks Bond with finding a missing professor by the name of Malcolm Tedworth. This snowballs into a huge mission for Bond, as the important documents slip away at the last minute. You get to travel the world as Bond looking for these documents while befriending beautiful women, driving fast cars, and killing terrorists, all for the Queen!

(Blood Stone, Activision)

The graphics in this game are top notch. I half expected M and Bond to look like melted versions of their real life counterparts, but I was wrong. The cutscenes are almost next gen. Whatever technologies they used to scan the actors was very effective, and at points it was creepy seeing Daniel Craig all digitized; it’s almost like seeing Peter Cushing in Rogue One. Creepiness aside, this is one of the best looking games of the previous generation. I can’t believe that Bizarre Creations squeezed these amazing graphics out of the Xbox 360. I hope other developers learn their tricks, too. The only issue with the design of the game was the fact that all your bullet fodder looks the same. There really isn’t much differentiation between the grunts that you have to mow down to get to the end of the levels. Plus, some of the levels get a little drab at times, but it doesn’t really take away from the experience, since you’re trying to avoid getting blown away by a group of octuplets. The race and car chase scenes, however, make up for the lack of diversity in the bullet sponges. Seeing as Bizarre Creations is known for their racing games, and had Blur release a little before this title, it makes sense that the car chase scenes are superb. Whipping around in an Aston Martin while trying to catch a Hummer was simply mind blowing. These chase scenes also change the challenge in the game and doesn’t allow you to get bored of just shooting people. I loved the variety.

The controls in the game are a little wonky at points. The shooting is extremely tight and follows the route of most shooters nowadays: the left trigger is aim and the right trigger is fire. You must shoot only once you’ve gotten under some cover by pressing A—if you don’t, three bullets will put Bond down on the normal difficulty. Blind fire is very handy when you feel you’re outgunned, and for the most part, if they’re close enough the bullets will find their mark. What makes the game a little different is that B is used to perform actions during platforming scenes and chase sequences. I kept dying because muscle memory prompted me to press A. Once I got use to the B button being my main action and brake button, the game got easier and my enjoyment grew. Some of the car chase scenes were difficult because the hand brake is engaged with B and I kept pushing A. Again, once I got used to B, no one could outrun Bond. Alright, we’ve talked about shooting and driving, now let’s talk about Bond’s detective skills. You press down on the D-pad to open your cell phone to look for clues that progress you through the level. The phone also shows you enemy locations, what they’re armed with, and once you kill them, what weapon’s ammo they leave behind. You can also find your objective when you open up the phone. I liked this new mechanic a lot; it reminded me of Batman’s Detective Vision. However, the only problem with it is that when you have it open while running, the screen gets really fuzzy since you’re using data too fast for Verizon I guess.

(Blood Stone, Activision)

This is one of the better Bond games that is out on the market, and I’m thrilled that I hunted down a copy. The only huge drawback to this game is how short it is; it can be beaten on normal in about 7 hours or so, which is a drag. However, during those 7 hours you get to play Bond as he was meant to be played, not just as a guy killing people, not just as a race car stuntman, and not just as a detective. You get to have all those mixed together in a nice pot where you never get tired of one mechanic before hopping onto the next. Any Bond fan should play this, and any fan of shooters should as well; it handles great and there’s great satisfaction that comes with offing all the bad guys. Too bad Bizarre Creations no long exists—I would love to see another game in Bond’s world from them, perhaps with Connery as the lead, or possibly Dalton.

Blood Stone 007

Blood Stone 007
9

Score

9/10

Pros

  • Amazing graphics: Daniel Craig looks like Daniel Craig
  • All-new original story
  • Mixes everything that Bond does into one game: racing, shooting, and looking for clues

Cons

  • Very Short Game
  • Controls are a little different, which can slow your progress
  • Some of the level design is boring
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