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James Bond: Blood Stone

Licence to drive as well as kill.

It's pretty linear stuff, by the looks of it. The same goes for the boating section, which sees everybody's favourite Britisher reducing a no-doubt ancient harbour to smoking rubble to stop that terrorist who - don't forget - wanted to reduce the place to smoking rubble.

Switching to the water provides lots of combustible set-piece furniture, as nearby yachts crumple into flame, burning debris sails dangerously through the air, and little chicanes built from jetties and passing ocean liners crop up at unexpected occasions. Bond can definitely shoot from behind the wheel of his speedboat, and the final moments of the chase, which take the action nipping underneath the fins (legs? Grandad, I really miss you) of a massive catamaran suggest that Bizarre isn't bad at this spectacle business.

The bulk of the game, outside of the six driving levels, however, will see Bond on-foot, and probably lurking behind a crate. The pre-credit gun battle through a fancy yacht is over quickly, but there's enough time to suggest that the cover system is looking pretty slick.

Bond can peek out from his hiding spot and work around objects rather gracefully, while the enemy-riddled levels encourage a speedy approach to the maps, zinging from one safe haven to the next. On top of the cover, there's a crunchy one-button melee system with a nice contextual flavour, seeing Bond grab enemies as they round corners before shoeing them in the face, or appearing out of the shadows of a bulkhead to jab them fairly definitively in the back of the neck.

You can expect challenges and XP in multiplayer, but no driving sections

Taking a cue from Splinter Cell: Conviction, then. But Blood Stone's been in development for two years, and the team swears they came up with the idea independently - melee attacks allow you to earn up to three Focus Kills, which let you mark and then execute baddies without taking any hits yourself. It's a device that utterly transformed Sam Fisher's latest outing, taking a thoughtful stealth template and turning it into something that approached an extremely violent puzzle game.

Blood Stone, however, won't be letting the mechanic to get out of hand: this isn't a particularly stealthy experience, for starters, and the lack of ammo rationing means you won't really need to weigh things up and think too much before wading into the fray. Bond doesn't think, anyway, you communist: he pops out from behind a water bed, blasts foreigners right through the Martini olive and then romances Joss Stone. Not everyone's idea of a killer day job, sure, but he seems happy enough.

Judi Dench will be returning as M. Martin, my friend from another website, asked if the Dame and Joss Stone could have a fight in multiplayer. (No.)

It's interesting that Bizarre is minimising the interesting strategic aspects to Focus Kills. Blood Stone is the latest game from the team that made The Club: a thoughtful, divisive, and very quirky shooter that ditched narrative and set-pieces in favour of mechanical stuff like a racing line and leaderboards. After that game - perhaps more poignantly, after the poor sales of that game - the developers are playing Bond straight.

This may well turn out to be a very good idea. Blood Stone's individual pieces - behind the wheel and on foot - look pretty respectable. But like a good Martini, it will depend on how the various ingredients taste when they come together.

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About the Author

Christian Donlan avatar

Christian Donlan

Features Editor

Christian Donlan is a features editor for Eurogamer. He is the author of The Unmapped Mind, published as The Inward Empire in the US.


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