James Bond 007: Bloodstone
Posted 2 years ago By - JD Speedy
During the last few reviews I’ve done for GameFocus, I think I’ve let my inner optimist get the best of me. But of all my crazy longshot games, Bloodstone seemed the least deluded. It had a proven developer, responsible for some of my favorite games over the last few years, at the helm of a licence in dire need of reinvention.
Unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be. What seemed like a great match on paper was just another pipe dream of my inner nerd.
While it’s not the first time this racing game studio has tackled the third person shooter genre (see the equally disappointing The Club), the inclusion of car-themed segments seemed to signal BC trying to take the Bond franchise and make it their own.
The story is boiler-plate Bond. That said, I found it more than a little confusing. You play as the travel-happy Daniel Craig Bond, shooting bad guys in a myriad of locales. Now that all made sense, but the rest of the plot was as clear as mud to me. Honestly, after finishing the game, I went straight to the Wikipedia page to try to make sense of it all...and I’m still confused. I guess it has something to do with bio-weapons (and bio-antidotes) and jewelry. Other than that I’m completely lost.
And the issues with Bloodstone reach further than just a hard to grasp plot. Both the driving and the shooting suffer from a distinct lack of polish.
Take the shooting for instance. It’s loose, the controls are awkward and the action is unnecessarily prolonged. The most distinctive element about the shooting, and the only reason the game is playable, is cribbed from Splinter Cell. Bloodstone has a version of mark and execute that employs a kind of bullet time earned from close-combat kills. The CQC kills are probably the best looking animations in the game and are really easy to pull off, but it always feels like they’re compensating for a poorly cobbled together shooting mechanic. If you take away the "focus kills" you’re left with a really loose controlling third person shooter.
On top of the relatively botched controls, Bloodstone also suffers from an awful lot of repetition in the shooting sections. To make up for what feels like a lack of actual gameplay, the gunfights are prolonged and exist in almost cartoon-like rotating scenery. The driving actually accounts for a significantly small portion of the gameplay, though it’s hard to complain about because the controls for the cars are even more floaty. I actually kind of feel sorry for Aston Martin as the way their cars handle in the game is a horrible advertisement.
After this year’s incredible Blur, it’s hard to believe just how bad the driving in Bloodstone feels. I mean, I understand at least part of the problem. To achieve the kind of cinematic bombasticness of a James Bond flick, there have to be a myriad of near-misses to keep the action on the verge of unbelievable. Trouble is, Bizarre Creations chose to make these instances just as hard as they appear instead of empowering the player to easily make the chases look great. In two spots, I had to repeat a section upwards of twenty times because the path I was supposed to follow was too skinny and there was just too much happening onscreen. The conditions for failure just weren’t properly balanced which led to a lot of expletive-ridden controller almost-throws.
There’s a multiplayer component packed in along side the single player, but N64-era GoldenEye it is not. In fact, it’s just as poorly cobbled as the rest of the game. It has all the standard features including another homage to Splinter Cell, but none of it comes close to replicating the same fun as that found in it’s source of inspiration.
Now, I hear you saying, at least the graphics in the game aren’t that bad. You’re right, or at least halfway. You’ll have an excellent experience if you’re extremely near-sighted. While the environments look pretty epic, the character models are so low-poly that they’re fricking scary looking! It’s one of the worst examples of the uncanny valley I’ve witnessed in a long time. Combine that with some of the most phoned-in dialogue I’ve ever heard in an Activision release and you have less than a winning combo. That said, the music is standard Bond, so I was more or less pleased, and the sound in general is passable.
With the recent news that Bizarre Creations is on the verge of being shut down, I’m sincerely saddened that this might be the last release of theirs I’ll review. I have so many great memories of both Blur and Geometry Wars, it’s just depressing to see them go out on this bum note. So, much like how I remember Grin for the excellent Bionic Commando: Rearmed instead of Terminator: Salvation, let’s all tip a glass to the Bizarre Creations that brought us two incredible Geometry Wars games, Blur and a host of PGR titles. If they do indeed get the axe, they will be missed. [Ed. Note: The fate of Bizarre Creations is currently unknown. Activision is still reviewing different opportunities for the developer.]
Oh, and don’t buy Bloodstone. Seriously, that game ain’t good.
+ The intro sequence looks fantastic
+ The shooting isn’t terrible all the time...
- The driving never feels right
- Driving the tow-truck feels exactly the same as driving an Aston
- The conditions for failure in the driving sections are extremely punishing
- Dialogue sounds awful and completely lacking in emotion
- Character models are frightening
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Release Date : 2010/11/02
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Activision
Developer : Bizarre Creations
Category : Action
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10