With the recent announcement that, due to MGM's financial woes, the Bond film series is on indefinite hold, many a Bond fan has been left to twist in the wind. Don't fret, fans. You can still get into as much serious Bond-age as you like in the video game realm.
Megalo-media giant Activision will be releasing the latest installment in the official Bond franchise in November: James Bond 007: Blood Stone. Daniel Craig's hard-man, hand-to-hand Bond has deeply divided fans, but even if you think he's the worst thing to happen to the series since George Lazenby got a haircut at Sean Connery's barber and mimed his way through “On Her Majesty's Secret Service”, let's focus on the game.
Blood Stone has a rather familiar terrorist leading a global scheme to commit some kind of massive, World Trade Center-style attack. Not much to write about there, really. Not exactly a blindingly original idea, terrorists using inhumane diamond mining and international trickery to destabilize the world's superpowers. Reads more like the international section of the newspaper these days. Bond himself is out to crack every bone that stands between him and the terrorists he must foil, taking a breath or two for some alone time with the lovely Nicole Hunter, played by UK soul singer-turned-actress Joss Stone.
- Daniel Craig's Bond will bring intense combat to the game -
As for the Craig-ly carnage, the emphasis is on hand-to-hand, or rather hand-to-neck, leg, head, knee, groin, pretty much any appendage available is fair game for a twist and snap. The best part of the many intricate manual take downs is that it earns the player Focus Aim points which allow for a sort of bullet-time aiming system many have likened to the “Mark and Execute” function from Splinter Cell: Conviction. It's a bit of a sneaky trick, enticing players to use hand-to-hand attacks in exchange for super aiming power, but at least it makes for a diverse combat interface.
The game looks amazing, with cut-scenes that look almost photo-realistic. The combat sequences move smoothly from one enemy to the next, with Craig's Bond sliding across surfaces, hopping rails, jumping off high spaces, and generally doing anything he can to lay hands on the bad guys. Motion-capping Craig's stunt-double, Ben Cooke, definitely helped the realistic, fluid movement reach the screen.
When he's not invading everyone's personal space, Bond is driving. A lot. Developers promise that the driving sequences will flow with the story in an organic way and will play as important a part as the combat and cinematic sequences. Bond has always been synonymous with fast cars, but the inclusion of vehicle play has always seemed a bit forced and separated from previous Bond games. The driving footage looks promising and developers at Bizarre (n-Space for DS) seem to be really proud of their work on this portion of the game.
- Driving sequences will be a prominent part of Blood Stone -
James Bond 007: Blood Stone is really light on gadgets, another gripe of the anti-Craig camp. The main gadget in the game is a cell phone, which is a sort of all-encompassing tricorder-type device. It IDs everything from individuals to explosive objects. Handy, indeed, but whatever happened to good old fashioned knockout gas?
The story of James Bond 007: Blood Stone was written by GoldenEye screenwriter, Bruce Feirstein. Hooray! Who also wrote The World Is Not Enough. Boo! The game features the usual pop theme, this time penned by Joss Stone herself along with Dave Stewart of the Eurhythmics entitled, “I'll Take It All”. Just put aside the facts that they tore original GoldenEye star Pierce Brosnan out of the GoldenEye relaunch and may have mishandled the series so badly that there may not be another James Bond film, and lose yourself in a sea of gunpowder, burning rubber, and broken bones. With its action-intensive combat, thoroughly-developed driving interface, and some of the usual Bond conventions, it should be a pleaser for fans of Craig-era Bond and action gamers as well.
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