So, the Bond film is as good as cancelled. Bond 23, the Daniel Craig-faced, Sam Mendes-directed continuation of the series has been put on indefinite hold, and you can go ahead and blame MGM's financial woes; MGM certainly is. It's that pesky economy, every time! Somewhere between the droves of homeless Wallstreet executives is James Bond, trading in his Astin Martin for a Pinto - but strangely, MGM's bad luck is a legitimate break for developer Bizarre. Traditionally known as "Those Car Game Guys", Bizarre was picked by Activision to develop James Bond 007: Bloodstone, a game that is poised to be the cinematically-styled response to the gaping hole in Bond's film franchise this year.
For years video games have been striving to be acknowledged as a legitimate peer of the film industry, and Bloodstone serves as a kind of "best alternative under the circumstances". Bizarre has aimed to create a game that mimics the cinematic qualities of the films: it adopts a third-person camera, has the current Bond cast providing voiceovers, and uses a script by Bond screenwriter Bruce Feirstein. Foley sounds (sound-alike effects) for punching and bullets have been created by the same guys who worked on Kill Bill; even the tense musical hums are based upon similarly edgy scenes from films like Taken. Talking with Bizarre's Nick Davis, he says it's a style they want to continue with:
"It's a little bit of a departure. Obviously we've done The Club for SEGA, Treasure Planet. We dipped our toes into this kind of thing, but it's the first time we've done something that's big and cinematic. We want the studio to go in that direction, to make these kind of triple A games regardless of genre. I think this is something we're getting quite comfortable in - the kind of cinematic action adventure game that mixes the different kind of gameplay elements. We're kind of setting ourselves up as one of the few studios that can do driving and action."
In most ways the game functions as a show reel of the studio's abilities. It's just about one third driving, one third melee combat, one third third-person shooter, framed inside the modern Bond conceit. And at its best it mimics the kind of set pieces that would sit comfortably in a film.
Take the speedboat chase. Bond is careering after terrorist cell leader Greco, amidst helicopter gun fire and Greco's henchmen blazing away at you from their crafts. Debris flies at our James, obscuring his path, and numerous hazards appear as the scenery collapses under a storm of bullets and explosions.