On first impressions, it seems that Bloodstone is taking a fairly safe approach to its action. There's a cover system and a range of subtle and not-so-subtle combat options, from silent melee-based takedowns to an aim-assist mechanic, labelled Focus Aim, that helps Bond to pull off several perfect headshots in quick succession; if that sounds familiar then you've probably played Splinter Cell Conviction, which featured a near-identical Mark and Execute setup. Still, competence is often more important than originality, and from the looks of things Blood Stone will offer a solid set of violent tactics.
Where the game does score points is with its approach to the license. "Blood Stone" may sound like a bit of an odd title for a Bond outing, but the story here has been overseen by Bruce Feirstein, who wrote GoldenEye (yay!) Tomorrow Never Dies (urgh!) and The World Is Not Enough (Hmmm?). There's also the official voice and face of Daniel Craig, and both Activision and Bizarre are understandably quite happy about this. If you speak to people working on the game you'll hear a lot of chat about how they've captured "the physicality of Daniel Craig" - by which they mean his tendency to beat people to death, rather than dazzling them with some kind of gimmicky magnetic wristwatch. Obviously, we're talking about Craig's version of Bond here, rather than Craig himself. I've no idea what the guy gets up to when he's not acting, but I'm sure it involves neither fist-based murder nor wristwatch-based tomfoolery.
The bottom line is that Blood Stone's Bond will be a no-nonsense, practical thinking type of hero. You do get a minor gadget, in the form of a smart phone that helps to reveal the location of your enemies and what they're carrying - think of this as a 007 variant to Batman: Arkham Asylum's Detective Mode - but for the most part you'll be saving your skin with hands-on brutality. When faced with a powerful helicopter and a distinct lack of rocket-launchers, for example, Bond chooses to commandeer a nearby crane - using the arm to smash the chopper out of the sky. Standard, bread-and-butter beatings are conducted with all the fearsome violence you'd expect in a post Casino Royale Bond, and the painful-looking animations come courtesy of Ben Cooke - Craig's official stunt double.
You'll notice that I've intentionally shied away from revealing too much of the story. This is partly due to the fact that the on-foot section of Bizarre's presentation was culled from near the end of the game (which presents something of a spoiler issue for interested parties), but to be honest I'm still a bit hazy about what the basic plot involves - I've no idea what a Blood Stone is, for a start. No doubt things will get a bit clearer when we've seen more of the game in action, and with any luck we'll get to hear a bit more about the multiplayer mode, which caters to 8 vs 8, team-based battles. There's potential in the separate gameplay elements here, but until we've seen a bit (Roger) Moore, it's hard to Dr kNOw whether this will beat The Living Daylights out of the competition.
James Bond 007: Blood Stone will be released this winter on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.