First thoughts: James Bond 007: Blood Stone

Yet another game that I’m playing almost a year after it’s release, and another Bizarre Creations game. I felt a little guilty for not playing Blur for so long, given that I was more than aware of it’s presence, but I don’t feel the same about Blood Stone- I lay the blame for that squarely at Activision’s feet

Activision get a lot of grief from gamers these days, thanks to CEO and and baby-killer Bobby Kotick, but most of it is rather childish and pathetic, especially when you consider their rival companies have exactly the same aim, but do so with a much better PR. The reason I blame them for the disappointing sales of Blood Stone is because they failed to do the one thing they should be doing with a game like this, using a very established and popular brand, and marketing it to death.

The first time I heard of it’s existence was early on in development when rumours were circulating of Joss Stone’s involvement and speculation was that she would appear in a new bond film; that was also the last I recall hearing about the game. It’s likely that I’ve forgotten about any pre-release adverts, but given the size of the franchise involved and the quality of the game (at least what I’ve experienced so far), it would surely have made sense to give the game a huge marketing push to maximise sales. The fact that I’m likely to be one of the easier markets to appeal to says a great deal about the (lack of) marketing.

I’ll admit that I haven’t played a great deal of the game, but I’m very impressed so far. Bizarre Creations seems to have captured a lot of the franchise’s strong points and place them into the game in an enjoyable way: combat is fun, the cover system is simple and effective, and the driving sections are fast and frantic. I feel like I should give a special mention to the ‘takedown’ melee moves, which are some of the most satisfying moments I’ve experienced; a combination of superb animation and bone-crunching attacks (with well-timed pad rumble) make them an absolute dream to pull off.

It’s not perfect though- I’m still slightly concerned that I’m going to spend the vast majority of the game playing through a filter so any enemies and waypoints are highlighted, something a worrying amount of games seem to think is enjoyable. It isn’t. This is a nice-looking game – it isn’t the greatest looking, but it’s solid – it’s a shame to view it all through a strange green filter so I don’t feel like I’m missing something or being put at a disadvantage.

Overall, I’m really impressed. It’s enjoyable but unforgiving (I’m playing it on the highest difficulty it will let me play it on*) while in combat and the race sequences feel like a typical Bizarre Creations racing game with lots of traffic and explosions. It’s all very James Bond, really, and the fact that even someone who is fairly indifferent about Bond films can enjoy it says a great deal.

* NOTE TO DEVELOPERS: Stop making me finish a game before unlocking a harder difficulty level. It’s idiotic.

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