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007 Blood Stone

Score: 63%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: n-Space
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1; 2 - 6 (Online)
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Third Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

In what has got to be one of the most curious events that I can remember, we now have two James Bond games released in the same week, on the same system, by the same developer! 007 Blood Stone and GoldenEye 007 are the newest adventures of the debonair MI-6 agent and developer n-Space made both games for the Nintendo DS. I was tasked with Blood Stone (in case you couldn't tell by the title of this review) and while I was expecting the worst, I actually got a fairly mixed bag.

It should go without saying at this point that the DS is not the system of choice for high-end graphical power. Try as it might, the poor little system rarely ever pushes out anything better than N64 quality. Unfortunately for Blood Stone, that's the expected case. Many of the characters and sets look like flimsy cardboard cutouts on a sound stage and trying to decipher any of the frantic action will make your eyes go cross as you stare at a mess of blown out pixels and edges so jagged it could even cut through James Bond's piercing stare.

The voice acting at least fares better. Dame Judi Dench reprises her role as "M" and Daniel Craig turns in an okay performance as Bond. The dialogue is a bit hammy at times, but considering it is a spy story, a lot can be forgiven. The tiny speakers on the DS certainly cannot keep up with the myriad sound effects and other Bond conventions, like the iconic theme song, so a headset is recommended. Soul singer and actress Joss Stone actually recorded a special song just for 007 Blood Stone and even plays the role of Nicole Hunter, obvious love interest opposite Bond. So while, aesthetically, Blood Stone struggles to find a good balance of poor graphics and "okay" voice acting, it's biggest hurdle is a matter of self-identity. 007 Blood Stone uses many different ideas to create a new James Bond adventure, but it never does any of those ideas well.


If nothing else, 007 Blood Stone should go down in history as a cautionary tale of why movie-based games struggle in the marketplace. Blood Stone was originally conceived as the plot for the project "Bond 23" movie before financial woes forced the cancellation of the film. 007 Blood Stone the game feels like the lost script for the film and the resulting game feels very much like your average videogame tie-in, except that it has nothing to tie into!

So the plot for 007 Blood Stone follows all the beats of an actual James Bond movie. The globetrotting super spy will thwart terrorist groups attacking the G20 summit in Athens, track down kidnapped scholars, and meet lovely ladies on his top-secret excursions. The problem is that many of the locations and transitions feel disjointed. One minute you are fighting off thugs in the Roman Colosseum, then chasing suspects through a busy Monaco street before being captured and tortured in a Burmese prison camp. Obviously, you will have high-tech gadgets at your disposal while you sleuth around ritzy hotels, but I found I kept thinking the same complaint throughout the whole journey; namely that 007 Blood Stone tries to do too much and ultimately comes across as a rather average experience.

Essentially a third-person game roughly 60% of the time, 007 Blood Stone lets you navigate Bond through level after level dispatching bad guys and defusing bombs in much the same way you would expect modern action titles to allow. However, instead of sticking to this tried and true formula, 007 Blood Stone forces you to do more than just shoot your gun off at the henchmen. Some levels are solely focused on stealth, requiring you to play in the shadows and wait for the perfect moment to strike. Other levels become a shooting gallery where you simply have to shoot the cronies before they shoot you. Yet another level is solely dedicated to driving a fancy sports car through a high-traffic street. Sure, it sounds great on paper, but every gameplay model suffers from poor direction and a lackadaisical attitude. The shooting is rough, the sneaking is unforgiving, and the driving is abysmal. Just about the only improvement to be had are the spy-centric mini-games like hacking a safe or defusing bombs. They are quick and fun and the best part is that if you fail, it lets you start over immediately.

If beating the single player story left you wanting more, there is also a multiplayer mode. Limited only to competitive match types like "Capture the Flag" and "Deathmatch," the local wireless connectivity of the DS will be the only way for anyone to enjoy the promised 6 player matches. I attempted to go online and couldn't find a single game until I played with a friend of mine in the same room. The match types and weapons are pretty standard, but overall there isn't anything special waiting to be discovered online.


While the range of difficulty options is rather standard for an action game of this sort, I still found it pretty easy to literally run past large sections of levels. Whether it was blind luck or dumb A.I. I really couldn't say, but for at least two levels, I was able to beat them without firing a single shot and never had to restart because I hadn't died.

Honestly, my biggest difficulty was keeping up with the control schemes that seemed to change nearly every level. Juggling three or four control layouts gets tiresome and I was never able to stay interested for more than a one level in a single play session. Though, for those with a timetable, the length of 007 Blood Stone is around a 5 - 8 hour jaunt. It didn't feel too quick, but it also didn't feel like it was needlessly padding out the length either.

Game Mechanics:

As I said earlier, 007 Blood Stone is a bit schizophrenic with its identity. The third person controls are a mix of D-pad and stylus inputs that causes your hand to cramp and consequently jerks the camera around since the touch screen controls the camera. During the driving sections, the car controls are simply atrocious. A paper-thin Audi squirrels its way around a narrow street whether you are using either the D-pad or touch-screen and passing these levels feels more like luck than skill. The stealth sections aren't that bad and it is kind of fun sneaking up on a patrol guard and knocking his lights out, but once again, it isn't anything special.

007 Blood Stone falls victim to the movie-license trap of mediocrity, but the catch is that there isn't a movie to pair with the game. This odd-duck was a gamble for the Bond franchise and while it doesn't come close to being a hit, it also could have been much worse. I wouldn't go so far as to say that 007 Blood Stone is BAD game, but rather that it is simply below average. It straddles the line of quality the same way it straddles being a movie-game and being a licensed property spin-off. What makes this whole situation a bit more surreal is that developer n-Space also released its other Bond game, GoldenEye 007, at the same time which by all accounts looks pretty good. This is unfortunate for 007 Blood Stone because it seems the only agent more fun than James Bond... is another James Bond.

-HanChi, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Hanchey

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