Wot I Think: James Bond – Blood Stone

By John Walker on November 9th, 2010 at 1:08 am.

Herbie Goes To Hell

Last week saw the release of Commander Bond’s major outing for 2010, James Bond: Blood Stone. Having finished it, I’m ready to attempt the impossible: to write a Bond review that in no way puns off any of the titles of any of the films, nor tries to crowbar in some reference to something being shaken and/or stirred. (Although now I’ve thought of a joke for that! Oh, okay, maybe it will contain one.) Here’s Wot I Think.

It’s comforting to learn that despite my wobbly form I’m still able to sprint farther and faster than James Bond. You’d imagine the super-sleek spy, especially in his Daniel Craig incarnation, would be able to keep up the pace a little longer than about three seconds. Perhaps he’s worn out from all that sex. That could explain my advantage over him.

What would you do if you had access to the James Bond license? If you were given a chance create an entry into Fleming’s lexicon? I’ll tell you what I’d do: I’d explore the means by which Bond regenerates, by having Craig’s character go back in time and meet Moore, Connery and Lazenby. But not Timothy Dalton, because of how awful he was in Doctor Who. They’d have to team up to fight, I don’t know, a space octopus. It would be amazing. And it would be more coherent than the nonsense in Blood Stone.

I’ve never been the best at following Bond movies. I generally have to have someone with me so I can ask, “Is she the one from before, with the jewels?” And they can sigh, “Yes.” Then I can reply, “So how come she doesn’t like him now?” And they can dump me. But even from my disabled position, I’m fairly certain this is a lot of disjointed nonsense strung together by an attempt to stop some biological weapons. Or maybe I didn’t follow.

Bond jumps from country to country, hiding behind the peculiarly scattered crates, shooting men in the face. In between he sometimes drives. Until it collapses to a close, in the most abrupt, awful ending I’ve ever seen. The whole game appears to have been made by the mission statement: “Oh, that’ll do.”

The big hook here is having some of the proper real-life cast of the films on board, including Daniel Craig, and extraordinarily, yet another Bond game starring Judi Dench. In what must be her second strangest career choice (because nothing will ever beat her agreeing to appear in the movie Chronicles Of Riddick) she seems to love contributing her vocals to any Bond cash-in. Joining the cast is the Bond girl who wasn’t, Joss Stone, who plays – well, really the only other character in it. And they’re all performing a story credited to Bruce Feirstein, who co-wrote the screenplay for GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, and The World Is Not Enough. It’s like they were taking it seriously.

But the result falls so massively short of its splash credits that you wonder if it was contractual obligation rather than actors’ liking a script. What you’ve got is an astonishingly generic cover-shooter, incessantly hampered by cutscenes that don’t even have the good grace to be hilariously awful. They’re just boring.

There’s something about international terrorists, chemical weapons, and absolutely nothing whatsoever about the titular diamonds (that also occupy the opening titles). (Stone’s Nicole Hunter is a jewelry designer – that really does seem to be it.) This means travelling from Athens to Istanbul, Monaco to Siberia, and Bangkok to Burma. And in all places your job is to follow the marked path on your magical mobile phone, stealthily shooting enemies until the game forces you to unstealthily shoot enemies. Very disappointingly, the game appears to have way too much in common with Bizzare’s The Club, except without the goal of achieving a high score with its brainless, overly easy shoot-outs.

And it’s fine at this. It’s never difficult, but when hopping from cover to cover, picking out the moronic enemies (they have quite a propensity to panic at your arrival and blow themselves up with grenades) with headshot after headshot, it can feel slick. And to be fair, this is the majority of the game. It’s never more than average, but it manages to stay at average for the bulk of the time.

What’s more peculiar are the lengths to which it goes to be average. The controls are so sparse as to make sure you feel detached when doing anything other than firing. There’s no crouch, there’s not even a jump button. Instead you have one generic catch-all that changes its purpose according to the situation. If the game wants you to jump a gap, at that gap you’re told to press E. If it wants you to grab a horizontal pipe, then you’re told to press E. If it wants you to climb a wall, you’re told to press E. There’s never any choice, any experimentation. There’s one direction to head in, and one button to do it with.

There’s also a weird lack of care. Everywhere you go in the world, the signs are all in English. Athens has British roadwork signs, China has British “slippery when wet” yellow folding signs. All shops and adverts and directions are in English in every nation. It’s the oddest thing.

By far the most successful aspect of the game is the recreation of Judi Dench’s neck. Seriously – it’s quite extraordinarily accurate. You could almost be watching As Time Goes By. But that’s where the success ends, with faces looking like awkwardly just-off lookalikes, with the exception of Bond who looks exactly half way between Daniel Craig and Wayne Rooney. There doesn’t seem to have been even an attempt at lip synching, with characters bubbing their mouths up and down like a ventriloquist’s fish, and the direction is as dynamic as a soap opera.

But it sure likes to explode. Ho boy yes. Rather than including exciting action for you, instead the scenery around you gets to have the best fun. Entire cities seem to get destroyed in the car chases and cutscenes, the ludicrous pyrotechnics entertaining to watch, but exceedingly distracting to drive through.

Driving really should have been the strength for a game by the Project Gotham team, Bizarre Creations, but this is completely hopeless. You’re always tasked with “catching” a car you’re chasing, which can’t be done until you’ve reached the area where they start driving like EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO EVER DRIVES IN FRONT OF ME ON THE A4. Before then you’re only following them, attempting to psychically guess which way the road’s going to bend next at your breakneck speed, and which way is going to end in a river. It’s trial and error.

The PC port is cursory. Obviously the woefully meagre controls are a hangover from a controller (but even so, the console players must have plenty of spare fingers), and just as frustratingly the cutscenes are at a resolution massively lower than the game itself. And these arrive whenever Bond’s about to do anything interesting. When the game wants you to spend vast amounts of time tediously trudging along corridors as Bond chats on his phone, you’re absolutely in control. When he jumps off a rooftop or evades a helicopter, the game will take care of that for you. And you’ll watch them in smeary, shitty quality, the glove puppet characters MAH MAH MAHing their way through a dull script, as you drum your fingers. Although I’ll give them this: you can pause them. Every other game, copy this!

Quite why it has a Star Trek computer is strange enough, but you should see how bonkers it is when it's moving.

And then, after about five hours, it stops. Technically I suppose you’ve killed the main baddy and so on, but in terms of any understanding of narrative structure (including how all Bond films work) this ends where it should have an interval. There’s a big revelation, a plot-twist, a muted conversation with M, and then rather than the game finally getting going it tells you “James Bond will return” and starts playing the longest credit roll I’ve ever seen in my life.

I realise this is a bit like the classic Woody Allen gag, but it really is adding insult to injuriously mediocre to have it so abruptly halt.

In a year when MGM are selling paperclips and post-it notes at car boot sales, this is Bond’s major outing, and it’s a disappointing one. When the best it has to offer is picking out headshots on static shooting galleries, it’s hardly living up to the franchise.

Oh, and that joke: The game’s so boring that even if shaken you’ll not be stirred from your slumber! Thankyouverymuch.

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60 Comments »

  1. Miker says:

    B-b-b-but Bond!

  2. Delusibeta says:

    Considering this has been posted at 1am UK time, that bed joke is appropriate. Anyway, we get the drill: bland Activision cash-in. Apparently GoldenEye is better, but it’s a Wii exclusive (due to Nintendo publishing the original, most likely), so is irrelevant for this site. Not that it’s particularly faithful to the original (sprint button! Instakill melees! [admittedly only for Oddjob, who's seemingly even more laughably overpowered] Deadmau5 tracks being played in a club!)

    (in before links to Goldeneye Source)

  3. a.nye.123 says:

    Bond Game Mediocre – Shocker! Read all about it!

  4. Gabe Kotick says:

    If only Blood Stone had an item store.

  5. Navagon says:

    One day the industry will actually focus on spending the time and effort necessary to see a return on the games they develop. But that time seems so far away right now.

  6. Tusque d'Ivoire says:

    i did have quite some fun with this. even with the mediocre-to-the-point-of-lazyness cover shooter gameplay and the trial and error races, Judi Dench and Daniel Craig would keep me going through something a lot worse.

    The by far best time i had with the race in Mumbay (or whatever Asian city it is, i don’t think even the writers were sure about that). I just sat at my keyboard chuckling while lazily pursuing that huge truck and watching it tear apart the city. for ten minutes.

  7. Alice says:

    Dalton may have been rubbish in Doctor Who, I take your word, but he was awesome in Hot Fuzz as the sinister baddy.

    • BobJustBob says:

      He was also very good in last week’s Chuck.

    • Truck says:

      Holy shit, how did it not occur to me until now that it was Dalton? In my head it’s Bill Nighy.

    • Dozer says:

      I read that as “My head is in Bill Nighy”. Eugh.

  8. Chizu says:

    I didn’t hate Blood Stone.
    The cover system works well at least, and the takedowns have plenty of variety in different situations.
    Nothing special, yes. But not terrible.

    And now I am playing Goldeneye on my Wii, so I don’t even care anymore :D

  9. lu says:

    AH my friends little bro was given this from his gramps for his bday he is12 , i asked him whats it like?
    he looked me dead in the eyes and said one word ”shit”

  10. Bassism says:

    I’m amazed that they managed to make Daniel Craig even uglier than he actually is.

    Either way, I’ll just pretend this is a mediocre game about a mediocre secret agent who stole Bond’s tuxedo and managed to convince the MI6 that he’s really the same hero of my childhood.

  11. Bhazor says:

    ““James Bond will return” and starts playing the longest credit roll I’ve ever seen in my life.”
    Surely it can’t be longer than the credits to the new COD http://www.gameanyone.com/video/271770.

  12. SirKicksalot says:

    I liked the Bangkok levels, especially the chase. That giant truck would make Michael Bay jealous.
    It’s a competent game. 5 hours of mild fun. I don’t regret playing it. I also liked The Club!
    As for the story, it’s better than the mess that is Quantum of Solace.

    • CreepingDeath says:

      Quantom of Solace had a story?

      I just thought it was the end of Casino Royale that the editing team fucked up and cut out of the original -.-

  13. grrawr says:

    The Chronicles of Riddick is AWESOME. Shame on you.

    • ZIGS says:

      This. Very underrated movie. But the game takes the cake. One of my favorite games ever

    • malkav11 says:

      You have to admit it’s something of a bizarre career choice for a British peer, though. (She is a peer, right? Aristocracy stuff confuses my American brain.)

    • Olivaw says:

      Chronicles of Riddick is a shitstorm of a movie, totally diverging from it’s character-driven predecessor and ruining every good idea that movie had with a bunch of poorly named planets and even more poorly named alien races, all whipped together into a thickly stupid paste that smacks of poorly written fanfiction.

      The game was pretty good, though! At least, when it wasn’t giving Riddick superpowers like Chronicles of Riddick did.

      Fucking David Twohy. I will never forgive him for sending a promising sci-fi series straight into the shitter.

    • Urael says:

      I feel your pain, Olivaw. Pitch Black was a reasonably intelligent, character-driven film – CoR was a dumber than wallpaper-paste action ‘spectacle’ that totally pooped on the Riddick character from orbit. I remember jaws dropping in the theatre, not in awe but as everyone thought the same thing at the same time: “How can they do that?” and “My god, they can’t be serious…!”

    • Rob says:

      Judi Dench is a ‘Dame’ which is a royal title, but it’s not a hereditary thing like being related to aristocracy, it’s a title conferred during the persons lifetime in recognition of stuff they’ve done. A bit like the Congressional Medal of Honor I guess – although not just for military stuff.

    • Tei says:

      “how you can do that”.

      You guys don’t understand. Only me and David Lynch understand. Chronicles of Riddick is Opera in your Space Opera. You are watching a episode of The Song of the Nibelungs …IN SPAAAACE. Why convert Space Opera into Opera? David Lynch did with DUNE, and is the “reference” version that all other Dune movies and series try to imitate. Is because a Opera of Space Opera is soo full of substance, character and personality, that is like a black hole :-D
      You have to have a very strong different idea, to make a Riddick story that don’t looks full of Sopranos. If you don’t have that, and is very hard to have a personality stronger than David Lynch, you are doomed to lick David Lynch boots.
      Imagine if the original Aliens movie would have been directed by H.R. Gigger. The effect on monster movies would have be anhiliatory.
      I am not angry. I just hope David Lynch return to Dune and continue with the next books. Because theres the Tleilaxu, and will be a crime if we have to wait more for a movie abou the Teilaxu.

    • KenTWOu says:

      Pitch Black is AWESOME
      Dark Fury is AWESOME
      The Chronicles of Riddick is AWESOME

      Escape from Butcher Bay is AWESOME
      Assault on Dark Athena is A… verage : (

    • Robomutt says:

      “Dame” is the female equivalent of “Sir” as in she be a lady KNIGHT yankeebeeches.

  14. TeeJay says:

    Nicole Hunter
    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1861582848/ch0217379

    I’ll Take It All

    • EALouise says:

      I’m a bit dense when it comes to puns, but I can’t find the double entendre in the name Nicole Hunter.

  15. GoodPatton says:

    By the header graphic I was actually impressed, looked nice, but I made that mistake with Sniper: Ghost Warrior (sighhh). So apparently these games share two things in common, because I honestly thought the ending to Sniper: Ghost Warrior was the worst of any video game in history.

    P.S. The Bond joke was worth it.

  16. P7uen says:

    From now on to be dubbed “Bizarre Creation’s Bond-themed Judi Dench Neck-Simulator”

  17. malkav11 says:

    FWIW, this sounds pretty much like the last modern Bond game, Quantum of Solace. And I’m pretty sure Goldeneye’s the only Bond game that’s ever gotten much critical acclaim, so I’d say it’s exactly living up to the franchise.

    • jdeuel says:

      Please, I urge you all to listen to me. Everything or Nothing on the last gen consoles was the best Bond game. I beg you to look into your hearts and dust off your PS2 and try this game.

      Unfortunately there was no pc port :(

  18. A-Scale says:

    The Chronicles of Riddick game was lame. Decent setpieces, but lame overall.

  19. perilisk says:

    I’ve never understood why cutscene video can’t be effing paused. So good for this shitty half-baked port of a half-baked license cash-in.

    • jaheira says:

      You could pause the cutscenes in Neverwinter Nights 2, which I always thought was cool.

    • Rob2984 says:

      Also, both Mafia games

    • Supraliminal says:

      Don’t forget Max Payne.

    • bill says:

      Sands of Time (on the consoles, but i think not the PC) also allowed you to FAST FORWARD the cutscenes. Which I never understood why other games didn’t all copy.

      It was great for when i couldn’t play the game for a while, came back, and wanted a very brief reminder of where i was up to, but without having to sit through the whole cutscene again.

  20. Handsome Dead says:

    What is wrong with their faces

  21. Robert Yang says:

    I love Judi Dench. That is all.

  22. Tacroy says:

    Did anyone else take one look at the screenshot at the top of the article and, completely ignoring the title, immediately think “Sweet! It’s Car Wot Goes Fast: Car Wot Goes Fast in Europe”?

    Because I totally did.

  23. stahlwerk says:

    4th picture… are these giant shell casings?! WHAT?!

    • Tomm says:

      No, I think they’re propane tanks just carelessly strewn around. Still they wouldn’t explode if he shot them anyway, stupid game physics.

  24. Tyrone Slothrop. says:

    This review is much more entertaining if you read it in the voice of Alan Partridge.

    Thankyouverymuch.

  25. Tom says:

    I quite enjoyed it not a fantastic game but entertaining. I think it’s made better by the fact it’s Bond kind of like when you talk to a woman and hear her foreign accent she gets more attractive. Not worth full price because it’s far too short (the game not the woman), a lot better than quantum of solace and roger moore was the worse Bond as he was a slimey git.

  26. KillahMate says:

    Looks pretty.

  27. Chaz says:

    To be fair I don’t think having a one button system for climbing and jumping etc is all that bad considering how well it worked for Assassins Creed and presumably will do in the up coming Brink. Then again I haven’t played this so I don’t know how good the implimentation is. Surely a context sensitive button has to be better than a seperate button for every action, which I’m sure you’d be moaning about even more so. In fact I would go as far as saying that actually having a button to make you climb a drain pipe is in itself unnecessary, why not just let you move up to the drain pipe and climb it? Hydrophobia on the 360 had context sensitive buttons for stuff like that, which by the way it liked to change and mix up so that you weren’t using the same button all the time, and quite frankly it was bloody awful.

  28. Carra says:

    Would be better if they just ported GoldenEye from Wii to PC.

  29. oceanclub says:

    “There’s no crouch, there’s not even a jump button. Instead you have one generic catch-all that changes its purpose according to the situation. If the game wants you to jump a gap, at that gap you’re told to press E”

    Alpha Protocol has that and, while I still liked it (at least ’til the insta-kill hostage situation where I gave up out of annoyance) there’s nothing that breaks a game’s immersion more. Here we have an athletic trained killer who can leap across certain gaps, but not other gaps of the _exact same width_, or indeed can’t jump over small walls. Argh.

    P.

  30. Urael says:

    Sounds very much like the same methodology they’ve used to make the films; check-lists of things ‘Bond Fans’ expect to see, with plot/game experience as an afterthought. No wonder the franchise is moribund (Moribond?).

    • Premium User Badge VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      That would make a good RPS headline: “More o’ Bond, moribund”

  31. Griddle Octopus says:

    RE: your time-travelling Bond, John, you really need to watch the original Casino Royale, with its multiple bonds (David Niven, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen…) and its wacky humour. It’s dreadful.

    • Dao Jones says:

      I use to think Casino Royale was a spoof on Bond films. I felt pretty silly when the people at the pub told me it was a legit Bond film. :(

  32. Inglourious Badger says:

    So true about the pausing cut scenes! My girlfriend ALWAYS seems to walk in and ask me something at the start of a cutscene. Or the cat spills a mug of tea on the keyboard, or the phone rings, or some sinilar catastrophe, and then it’s gone forever. I missed the end of Call of Pripyat this way the other week. I’ll never know what my actions did to the residents of the Zone.

    Bugger

    • James T says:

      Surely you had a quicksave near the end?!

    • DrazharLn says:

      I constantly had interruptions at critical moments of Mass Effect 2. I was shooing people out of my room or just ignoring them to concentrate on the cutscene.

  33. iSoLateD1 says:

    Just finished this, very average game. Wait for a sale.

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