Daniel Craig is back as Bond in this cinematic adventure that makes up for Quantum of Solace.
If you're still hurting from MGM turning its back on James Bond, you'll probably want to check out 007: Blood Stone, which does a fair job of recreating the Bond cinematic experience in game form. Bizarre Creations had a lot of high-caliber help making this new adventure feel like genuine Bond; Daniel Craig and Judi Dench lend their voices and likenesses, the story comes from Goldeneye's writer, and Bond's stunt double did the motion capture. Even the films' costume designer pitched in to make Blood Stone feel like a true part of the Bond legacy.
A British bioweapons specialist has gone missing, and M asks Bond to look into the disappearance. Unsure of whether he's dealing with a kidnapping, a defection, or worse, Bond heads to the scientist's last known location, Istanbul (not Constantinople). From there, the story unfolds in classic Bond fashion, with car chases, shootouts, intelligence gathering, and globe-hopping to exotic locations like Monaco and Bangkok. Every Bond adventure needs its femme fatale, of course, and Joss Stone not only serves as Blood Stone's Bond girl, but also provides the theme song.
The level I played took place in Athens and mimicked the kind of nonstop action that typically prefaces the opening credits of a Bond movie. First, I prowled the decks of a yacht, taking out henchmen in a series of firefights. The shooting was third person, and solid, though I only got to try two guns, a pistol and automatic rifle. Though Craig's Bond isn't afraid of getting his knuckles bloody with a bit of hand to hand, the melee combat in Blood Stone is limited to Takedowns. The thinking, as the developers explained it to me, was that traditional hand to hand game design, with punching and kicking combos, just doesn't really make sense for Bond. He's a super-spy - mere henchmen shouldn't be punching him in the face. The trick with Takedowns is simply getting in close enough to an enemy to be able to pull one off. The more-than-65 different Takedowns are context sensitive based on a bunch of variables including where you are, if you're in cover, which direction the enemy is, and how he's armed. You might pull someone over a table, put him in a sleeper hold, or just plain snap his neck, depending on your particular circumstances.
If you succeed with a Takedown, you'll earn a Focus Aim token, which can be used to automatically lock on to enemies and shoot them in a cinematic style. Think of it like the opening of a Bond film, when he suddenly turns and shoots at the screen, says Bizarre. You can earn up to three Focus Aim tokens and chain them together to take out a bunch of enemies at once, which can be helpful if you're confronted with a particularly tricky section.
The gameplay of Blood Stone didn't feel particularly different than any other spy-themed game of recent memory, but it definitely gets the Bond aesthetic right. It's clear that the developers took the license very seriously and went to a great deal of effort to make this game feel like a genuine Bond adventure. The film franchise's recent woes actually worked in their favor, as it left the developers free to create whatever story they liked, just as long as it didn't contradict the canon. The result is both great-looking and sounding, with the same over-the-top kind of enemies and huge stakes that's essential to the Bond experience.
007 Blood Stone is due out for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on November 2.