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James Bond 007: Blood Stone Preview

Chris_Hudak By:
GENRE Action 
PUBLISHER Activision 
DEVELOPER Bizarre Creations 
T Contains Alcohol and Tobacco Reference, Blood, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Where in the world is Daniel Craig?

Heroes (and even some anti-heroes, for that matter) arrive in the deepest, darkest bottom of the ninth and fix shit. It's what they do. Daniel Craig did for James Bond what Christian Bale did for Batman—took the franchise off its disastrous trending track of Camp, kicked its ass around the room more than a little bit, and let people start taking things at least halfway seriously again. Last week we got a chance to check out Daniel Craig as Bond, at an Activision preview event in San Francisco's DNA Lounge.

click to enlarge007: Bloodstone, developed by Bizarre Creations, is a third-person game that sends Craig's twice-as-badass James Bond around the world on a gorgeously-scenic, continent-hopping, car-driving, boat-racing, arms-dealer-killing cinematic action/adventure.

It's still a 'T'-rated game, so don't expect blood—but from what we've seen, it's still visceral and violent as hell in the melee/takedown department, and really throttles that Teen rating for all it's worth.

Bloodstone plunks Bond in the middle of an international conspiracy that begins with the disappearance of a top secret bio-chem project that threatens to cause global chaos... and plunges Bond into tangled layers of betrayal and corruption that are almost, but not quite, thick enough to keep Her Majesty's wickedest weapon from kicking ass, taking names, and closing files for good.

Like any self-respecting Bond flick, Bloodstone kicks off with a sexy, surreal, animation-heavy opening movie. You probably know the stylistic routine—silhouettes of girls with guns (and of Bond himself, looking like he's been plucked out of the opening sequence from AMC's Mad Men); stylized acts of violence resulting in cascading showers of diamonds (instead of blood); and the sultry, occasionally bellowing voice of a robust female singer. This time around the original song is sung by Joss Stone, and she certainly has a set of pipes worthy of the old-school Bond themes.

click to enlargeBond's initial target—a reptile-slimy arms dealer named Greco who fulfills stereotypes and prejudices you probably didn't even know you harbored—wants to make his own contribution to the international G20 Summit... by blowing it up. He represents but the first challenge in a globe-spanning mission that takes players to Greece, Monaco, Istanbul, and Bangkok (possibly elsewhere—those are the areas we saw, anyway).

One of Bloodstone's three main pillars of gameplay is, obviously, a system of cover and gunfire, which is directly augmented by a simple and surprisingly brutal close-quarters melee scheme. The vicious, kinetic attacks are highly reminiscent of that bathroom-kill scene in Casino Royale (except that they continue throughout the entire game), and highly contextual to the current environment, ever providing new and creative ways to punch, choke, elbow, and headbutt melee enemies into submission.

Further, successful melee attacks can rack up so-named Focus Aim 'tokens'—which can later be 'spent' by Bond—one at time, or all three in a strung-together head-shot rampage—to give players a chance to pop up from behind cover against superior numbers and seriously clear out a room full of bad guys.

Naturally, a Bond game wouldn't be complete without vehicles; of course, the Craig breed of Bond-ness plays down the gadgety silliness compared to previous eras of the franchise, but there are some isolated car-racing segments that focus on dramatic environmental action. At times, it evokes the terrain-exploding drama of Split Second, albeit without the ability to actually trigger the environmental explosions, implosions, bridge-topplings, and whatnot.

click to enlargeIt's also not quite the full Bond experience without some kind of speed-boat chase, and Bloodstone has that action, too—with the ability to crank off a few rounds at the drivers of other boats, or key explosive elements. In the boat segments, you've constantly got the Bond theme-music 'Girl Trouble' running through your head.

What we've seen thus far is beautiful, badass, and Bond, slimmed down to the action essentials. Bloodstone's cinematics employ the voice talents of Daniel Craig, obviously, as well as the always-regal, quietly-imposing Judi Dench. Bond is, in the vernacular, 'back' - both in terms of films and games. Monitor GR's frequency for full intel when the game ships later this year.

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