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New South Wales, Australia
Game Developer, Composer & Gamer.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review #4: James Bond 007: Blood Stone


Platform: PC
Type of controller: 360 Controller
Install time: Approx 15mins  
Dependancies (Included in installation): DirectX 9c 

Notes about installation: Installation was quite unique for this game, well as unique as an installation can get. A Flash video plays in the background while installing, complete with sound. It is quite artistic (its an "infinite fractal zoom" technique going from one concept art to the next by zooming into the center of the frame). Other than that, setup went quite smoothly.   

Game website: http://bloodstonegame.com
Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_Stone_(video_game) ----------------------------------------------------------------

My thoughts about the game;
I didn't have high hopes for this game... considering the Bond Game track record, i was expecting a mediocre game at best, a complete flop at worst.
I was pleasantly surprised after playing this game for a little while... my initial impressions weren't too good, which they probably should of focused on a little more, but the game gets better as you continue playing and learning more about the core gameplay.
First off i recommend this game to anyone who enjoys the Splinter Cell series of games, there are countless moments throughout the game that reminded me of Splinter Cell, and a little bit of Syphon Filter aswell.

This is also an original story created by the developers in conjunction with Ian Flemming and MGM Entertainment, therefore the developers have had alot more time to work on the story and gameplay instead of rushing to get something done for a tied in movie release. This really shows in the game because eventually about 45mins into the game i actually felt like i was playing a Bond movie... there have only been 2 Bond games that i've played that truly felt like that, the obvious being GoldenEye 64 and the other being Everything Or Nothing on Gamecube (which coincidently was also an original storyline created by the developers of that game).

It took me approximately 7 hours to complete on easy, however i was interrupted several times on Steam while playing, and that time is including watching all the cutscenes aswell, so my guess is around 5.5-6 hours worth of gameplay, which isn't too bad for this kind of game and considering the movies only go for about 2 hours each.

Developer standpoint;

Although i haven't tried the other difficulties yet, easy was quite exciting enough for me to not be bored with enemies, i died a few times here and there, some parts i had to restart (a mission or two failed because i didn't know what to do) but on the whole it was challenging enough to play through on easy the first time around.
This is one of the only games were i was impressed by the enemy AI, it's nothing groundbreaking, but it's also not as broken as many other games especially stealth games in the action genre. The only thing that is missing is the enemies ability to hear you, but that would make the game much more bias towards the enemies and honestly that might have ruined the experience. Enemies for once have a proper "cone" of vision that they can see, and although the player cant see that cone, i could tell alot of effort was put into getting that part right, and it really does work well.

Animations and visual effects
The animations in this game were also very impressive, aside from the lip/mouth movement animations which were a bit dated, but overall most of the animations were very well done.

Visual FX in this game were kind of all over the place, you have the intense action sequences, that are quite impressive, however you have things like fire, dirt and dust that look like they were made back in 2003...
That was the only real issue with the VFX, the particles.

Level design
Some of the levels in this were Modern Warfare level of impressive. Some areas i deliberately took longer to finish just so i could soak up the atmosphere. I haven't been this impressed with level design (in a Bond game) since GoldenEye 64, these were truly great atmospheric environments, with some places feeling like a movie (Construction site in Istanbul, the rainy rooftops of Bangkok back-streets and the Siberian biochemical refinery -- all top notch design).

Sound design
The sound design is something that doesn't really need to be mentioned, it's a Bond game, the voices are acted by their real life counterparts (Daniel Craig as Bond, Judi Dench as M, Joss Stone [who sings the theme song] as the Bond girl & a sort of sidekick Nicole Hunter).
The sound FX and music were also great quality as i expected with a Bond game, like i said, this sort of thing comes with the territory, i would of been very surprised if the sound design wasn't top notch because of the franchise popularity.

Story and character development
Well as previously mentioned, because this game is an original storyline (possibly based off one of the many books, but not based off a movie) the developers actually had ample time to get the story & character development right, and they did.
Just a brief synopsis of the story;
The player teams up with Nicole Hunter (hired by MI6) to stop a plot involving biochemical WMDs. Set across six locations: Athens, Istanbul, Monaco, Siberia, Bangkok, and Burma, you fight a group of terrorists led by a man named Pomerov. Later as the story progresses, you find that there is a deeper scheme going on here, and while Pomerov is your first target (and where i thought the game would end) it turns out that he is only a stepping stone to a bigger target (which i won't spoil). There are decent car & boat chase scenes, awesome rooftop chases that if done right, has some of the best melee combat in a game since Colosseum: Road to Freedom (PS2 gladiator game).

Closing statement
This game is definitely worth playing, however i don't think it's worth the 90 dollar price tag. Personally i think it's worth about 1/3 of that price (it has Multiplayer aswell, 3 different game modes like TDM, CTF and objective based [not exactly co-op but more like Gold rush from Bad Company -- 1 team tries to obtain an objective, the other tries to stop them]).
If you enjoy a good stealth game, you should enjoy this. You may need to give the game a chance though, because the earlier levels aren't as impressive as the later ones, especially when the stealth kills become increasingly difficult to achieve, but are very possible.
That's another thing i wanted to mention, the animations for Takedowns (one button melee kills) change all the time, depending on your stance and the enemies position at the time, i counted at least 40 different takedown animations throughout the game, which was impressive because they didn't get old watching the same one over and over.
To put this simply, i enjoyed this game alot more than i enjoyed the previous title i reviewed, Singularity.

Story: 6.5/10  
AI: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Voice: 8/10    
Controls: 5/10    
Models: 5.5/10  
Level Design: 6.5/10  
Textures: 6/10  
Technical Complexity: 6.5/10    
Replayability: 4/10    

Total: 62/100

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