For all other requirements – objective markers, collectable intel, enemy locations – Bond has an app. A prod on the down arrow calls up his smartphone which magically sprinkles the screen with useful information, directing you to dropped weapons or, just in case you've somehow got lost in the linear corridors, waypoints to the next area. A couple of times you'll also use it to trigger a button-matching hacking mini-game but, like so much else, it's a thin facsimile of a gameplay feature rather than anything substantial.
At least the shooty-shoot stuff is moderately entertaining in a "that'll do" sort of way. Disappointingly for a Bond game developed by the studio behind Project Gotham Racing, the car chase sequences are the weakest parts of the game. Oh, they look the business, with massive explosions and gleaming sports cars that get gradually reduced to scrap, but even on the open road your life as a secret agent is painfully scripted.
The idea is to catch the other vehicle, of course, but this only happens when you reach the point where the game allows that to happen. What you're actually doing is keeping up with the other vehicle, and trying to react to the sequential obstacles the game throws in your way. Whether it's thin ice or an exploding petrol station, everything depends on being in the right place at the right time. Rather than a Bond-esque spin on Burnout's savage racing or Split/Second's epic destruction, you get driving sequences that have more in common with Stuntman's finickety precision or Alone in the Dark's crude herding.
In a flurry of smoke and flame, often with no clear view of what's ahead or where the next hazard will pop up from, if you opt to steer left rather than right then you'll crunch into scenery explicitly designed to spin you around and stop you dead in your tracks. It's irritating trial-and-error stuff, designed solely to look cool when you get it right, not to entertain while you get there.
All told, Blood Stone's 17 single-player levels offer generic amusements in line with the base requirements of the third-person action template, broken up by some explosive but fiddly driving chunks. The story they tell certainly resembles a Bond movie from a distance, but the moment-to-moment gameplay fails to capture his essence, so eager is it to lead you by the hand and hurry you along to the next room of dim-witted henchmen.
The multiplayer options extend to three game modes, comprising of the expected Team Deathmatch, a capture-the-flag style mission mode called Objective and Last Man Standing, which has no respawns. Like the single-player offering, it's thoroughly adequate but adds little of value to the overall experience. It's here because market research says that action game customers like to see a multiplayer option on the menu screen, not because somebody has found a particularly brilliant way of adapting Bond's singular world to the multiplayer arena.
Mostly, the game disappoints because it fails to pass the Brand Name Test. Would we still care if it wasn't James Bond? Almost certainly not. The shelves are full of identical or superior third-person shooters, and while Daniel Craig's taciturn voice work and Richard Jacques' sweeping orchestrations make the rote pop-and-headshot mechanisms seem a little more exciting than they really are, it's not enough to make Blood Stone more than a forgettable weekend diversion.
5 / 10