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Completed

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Time Played

--

Days in Journal

2 days

Last played

December 1, 2023

First played

November 28, 2023

Platforms Played

DISPLAY


Blood Stone is perhaps one of my personal favorite 007 games. As somebody who is particularly fond of PS3 era cinematic cover shooters, there's enough slickness to this game's combat and set pieces that impressed me back when it came out. Revisiting it now, I realize that there's a lot of flaws, particularly unevenness, that holds it back. But I can't say that I don't love it still.

The game starts with a pretty solid set piece sequence. "Stealthy" infiltration goes terribly loud, and a epic chase ensues. It's a nice vertical slice of the games' main gameplay loop: start slow, throw in a couple shootouts in the middle, (try) to end it spectacularly, and start all over again.

The problem is that some sections are noticeably weaker than others. There's a particularly egregious part right in Act 2 where you're exploring a drab, gray, snowy refinery area that lasts way longer than it should, and there's nothing particularly interesting about it. It's sandwiched by a luxurious night time casino heist mission, and a legitimately great set piece sequence that is hands down my favorite part of the game. I also don't care for the final half of the last act, it pulls off 2 of my least favorite gaming tropes. Thankfully most of the game is at least decent fun, but these sections sour the experience a bit.

Putting that aside, there's a handful of neat things that the game does. They did a good job of mimicking the first two Daniel Craig 007 movies in terms of presentation: there's a decent Bond AMV intro, the soundtrack is a decent imitation of the movie soundtracks, and the mannerisms of 007 is very much in line with how Craig portrayed him. He doesn't talk that much, which is kinda refreshing considering the state of modern gaming's chatty protagonists. It also means that the game barely has any crazy gadgets to play with, other than your Detective Mode-copycat smartphone, which is a slight shame.

I do like that they tried to translate his aggressiveness to the gameplay. You can earn "focus points" by doing close quarters takedowns (which are probably the most well-animated actions in the game), and they're used to automatically lock to an enemy and kill him in one shot with any weapon. You can only hold three points at a time, so the game clearly wants you to keep closing in to enemies to do takedowns and use the ability frequently. But the enemies are not that aggressive (even on Hard), and they don't have a lot of ways to push you out from cover (like throwing grenades), so most of the time you will match their tempo and keep your distance as well. Despite somewhat botching the execution, I do appreciate the attempt. Doing John Wick-style gameplay by shooting enemies in the leg, taking them down up close, then using your focus points to cleanly kill farther enemies is pretty sick.

On the other hand, I really think that the stealth sections could be done better, and there's a simple solution for it: just introduce sections where you'll be meaningfully penalized if you break stealth, and it will make these sections much more meaningful and intense. Instead, they feel mostly flat, since there's no real stakes for making mistakes. Usually you'll only be noticed by the enemies in the immediate vicinity if you break stealth, and there are rarely more than 5 enemies at a time in these sections.

There's also vehicle sections, which are mostly about chasing another vehicle while dodging hazards like incoming traffic, and they're pretty fun. The level of crazy stuff happening on screen reminds me of something like Split/Second, although it's not quite as insane. The vehicle physics can be a bit bouncy sometimes, but it's nothing too fatal.

Lastly, I have to say that the story and characters are barely worth mentioning. The game just doesn't spend any time to properly flesh out any interesting detail, which works out well for the gameplay pacing but doesn't do the story any favors.

It kinda hurts seeing the "James Bond Will Return" tagline at the credits. The game sets up a sequel with its ending, and I would love to see a bigger, better direct sequel. But at least it's easy to be optimistic about the future of 007 games now, I believe IO Interactive will hit it out of the park. Until their game comes out, I should just try out the other 007 games. I wonder how well Everything or Nothing holds up....