Blood Stone 007 Review
Bizarre Creations is best known for Geometry Wars and their racing games, like Project Gotham Racing and Blur, but they have forayed into the world of action games before; you’ll be forgiven if you’ve forgotten the Treasure Planet game and this generation’s The Club, though, because “forgettable” is probably the kindest thing you could say about them.
That isn’t to say that Blood Stone 007 continues Bizarre’s trend of pushing out bad action games, because Blood Stone isn’t terrible. But you can tell from the start that something just feels off about this game. So what’s up with that? Let’s it explore this.
Blood Stone 007 (PS3 [Reviewed], XBox360, PC)
Developer: Bizarre Creations
Release Date: November 02, 2010
First off, let me say that, while the title song and credit sequence are really, really awful, the story itself and the presentation are certainly Bond-worthy. The voice acting is pretty OK, with Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench and Joss Stone doing most of the work, and the plot is about what you would expect from a Daniel Craig Bond flick. It’s got intrigue, spy s**t and running and jumping and slamming faces against the wall and shooting people dead. And it’s got a ridiculous cliffhanger.
As I said before, you know something is wrong with this game from the very beginning, and it’s mostly because the controls are screwed. The very basics are fine; left trigger to aim, right trigger to shoot, A to hide behind cover, Y to switch weapons. Unfortunately, though, most other actions, like jumping or vaulting over cover, will be frustrating. These actions are context sensitive — meaning you can’t jump unless you’re supposed to jump, for example — and the buttons are inexplicably mapped. You press B to jump or vault over cover, and if you’re hanging from a pipe or ledge, you press A to drop down and B to pull yourself up. And you can’t change that mapping. I died many times as a result of this weirdness.
But that’s a minor problem. Less minor are the intangibles. The actual act of playing the game — whether you’re on foot or in a car — is just not very satisfying. Cliffy B has a great mantra in regards to the on-foot portions that I think Bizarre missed here: “If you’re going to make a shooter, you better make sure that those 30 seconds that you do over and over again are more fun than anything else in the game.” Unfortunately, the shooting is never particularly enjoyable, and that’s because it too often feels like a grind. Even on the highest difficulty available to you on your first runthrough, the AI is bad enough that you can clear a room from one good spot in cover, because they won’t flank you. During one firefight near the end of the game, I actually just sat in one spot as enemy after enemy slowly walked toward my hiding spot, allowing me to melee kill most everyone.
Something else key is missing here, though. There is no sound effect for your bullets hitting an enemy. This seems minor, but it throws everything off enough for me to notice it very early on.
Finally, this game is Splinter Cell: Conviction with some Arkham Asylum thrown in. Hitting someone in the face nets you Focus Aim, which is a poorly disguised variation on Mark and Execute, and you also have a smart phone that puts you in what Batman calls detective mode, which tells you where to go, where the enemies are and where you can find “hidden” bits of intelligence. A phone does that! And that, by the way, is the only gadget you have here, and aside from the things I already mentioned, it can also open doors and short out security cameras. And that’s it.
Driving should be great, though, considering it’s Bizarre’s specialty, though, right? Sadly, that is not so. All the driving sequences involve Bond chasing after someone, but none of them are actually about the chase. While, yes, if you get too far behind your target you will fail, but at the same time it’s not about actually catching up to the target; instead, it’s about staying within a certain distance from your target until you reach the end of the sequence. The sequences are so heavily scripted, too, that a lot of it comes down to trial and error; I would say they reminded me most of the levels in the Crash Bandicoot games in which you have to ride an animal, because the “chaos” of these segments — things exploding, cars crashing — are the result of the developer making them happen rather than them being a dynamic result of you driving way too fast against traffic. It’s also like Crash Bandicoot in that a large part of the difficulty in a couple of the sequences comes from trying not to drive into the water. No, really.
Despite all my complaints, I really didn’t hate the game, because it’s pretty breezy and easy, but I also don’t really see much worth in it. There is competitive multiplayer, but I have a hard time imagining many folks enjoying the single-player game enough to feel all that compelled to dive into it. It’s only there because it’s “supposed to” be there, and you can’t race online or anything cool like that.
You’re better off playing something else, as I assume you already are since Black Ops is out. But if you’re itching for some Bond action, the new Goldeneye is your better option. I look forward to Blur 2, Bizarre.
- The cutscenes are pretty good.
- It’s easy and thus not very frustrating.
- Press B to jump? Really?
- Awkward platform-like driving sequences.
- Not really that much fun.
- Tacked-on multiplayer
Final Score: 50/100
Played on Xbox 360. It is also available on PS3 and PC.