Blood Stone (2010)
Distributed by Activision / MGM Interactive
After a two year break Daniel Craig returns as agent 007 in a new adventure by TND screenwriter Bruce Feirstein. The game is played over 17 mission levels with the usual 4 difficulty levels: New Recruit, Field Operative, Agent & 007. This time Bond globe trots from Athens to Istanbul to Monaco to Siberia to Bangkok to Burma with return to Monaco - must rack up the Air Miles ! Activision continue with the QOS's MI6 computer graphics to progress the narrative and also uses the location intro font style from the movie too.
Missing from the opening mission is the traditional 007 gun barrel sequence as flying nearby Bond receives his orders from M ( voiced by Dench ) in Athens as she attends a G20 summit. The Commander parachutes in to dispose of some local baddies led by a guy called Greco on his yacht. After a brief visit and disposal of his men - reminding of final of 24: The Game , he jumps into a boat for an exciting chase. It's a shame the action is so fast as you don't get a chance to enjoy the local scenery including the collapsing tower. On land after another assault James takes to the road after he finds his car handily parked nearby - this happens quite a bit - wondering if his DBS is a Tardis that materialises out of thin air !
Once accomplished Bond meets up with M for a drink where she orders his vodka martini, enter the opening title sequence influenced by CR with a fighting Craig and plenty of exploding diamonds reminding of other Bond movie title sequences. The rousing title song is called I'll Take It All by British singer Joss Stone who also provides her voice for Monaco MI6 contact Nicole Hunter. Strange that James arrives in his black tux to meet her at the airport.
Along the way 007 has to investigate a missing biochemical project and encounters the usual villains called Pomerov & Rak - exactly why Bond game villains always have to fly around in helicopters shooting at James I do not know ! The action moves along at a fast pace and contains stronger violence perhaps why a 16 certificate compared to QOS's 12. The animators capture Craig's walk and brutal fighting style helped by stunt director Ben Cooke. The fighting is made easier by only having to hit one button compared to several in QOS, when taking down an opponent you earn Focus Aims which makes targeting with a weapon easy. The only gadget in the game is a smart phone which tags the oncoming baddies, intelligence and most importantly your direction which is tied to the linear story narrative. Each mission has hidden intelligence to discover and helps towards your scoring along with the usual achievements.
The driving which was missing from QOS should be good as it comes from the makers of the Project Gotham Racing series. Disappointed only two camera views: high above rear of vehicle or low outside front, no inside view something obtained in earlier 007 game Nightfire. In one chase objects come towards you so fast that I wondered if it would have been better in 3D. Also when you think of Bond cars you think of gadgets alas none not even in the DB5 which magically turns up in Istanbul ( perhaps left by Connery in FRWL ) after Bond arrives in his DBS.
The music is passable despite some 60's bongos but missing either in the cut sequences or during game play is a few bars of the James Bond Theme which is just looped several times over the long ending credits. If they want you to feel like Bond during this adventure at least play the tune during the game's highlight moments, something Bond composer David Arnold once commented missing in Connery's remake NSNA, otherwise it's not a Bond game !
Having already beaten my QOS score plus getting to the same 3rd level in record time I'm wondering if this shorter story is easier to play or just suits this old gamer's playing skills. It's enjoyable and definitely worth adding to your Bond games collection. It may remind of a missed Eon 007 movie but despite some impressive graphics it's not an epic Bond game like other franchise adventure games: Assassin Creed, Halo or Gears Of War where you have more freedom to enjoy your game surroundings. So why the diamonds in the opening titles or the never discussed game title - perhaps a knife's handle ? Still not everyone can say they got stoned with 007 & Joss. With a bridge ending mentioning an organisation being "everywhere" - could it be Quantum ? We'll wait and see ... James Bond Will Return.