The action is brisk and punchy but painfully generic, and all of the game's major set-pieces and confrontations are delivered via cutscenes. All the player can do is run from one tedious passageway to the next, blasting away at the goons.
It's as if Blood Stone was pitched on the idea that being plainly pedestrian was somehow acceptable, or that a game which sort of ticks some of the boxes will be enough to satisfy. Whether its many failures stem from a developer out of their depth, or a team placed under unrealistic time constraints, the finished product is so overwhelming bland it's actually tiring to play. It's like eating an entire plate of rice served completely on its own.
I would say it tries hard but falls flat, but with Blood Stone you get the distinct impression Bizarre isn't even trying. Every now and then you'll do a bit of driving, for instance, which is an area you'd think the respected racing developer would be able to comfortably handle. Sadly, these bits are just as grim as the rest of the game: dull, lengthy sections designed solely to pad out the third-person shooting sequences. They might look suitably daring, with plenty of fancy bits of scenery collapsing, smashing and exploding, but these vehicular chase sequences are obnoxiously scripted - preventing you from catching your adversary until you cross that all-important invisible barrier.
Attempting to keep you from the Checkpoint Reached notification are various pitfalls: one level has you driving over ice, for instance, with bits of the frosty flooring predictably giving away every now and then, usually throwing a spanner in the works. The most frequent danger is other vehicles, and scripted traffic will often bunch up in certain formations, causing you to drive head-first into the Mission Failed screen until you memorise the layouts.
The combination makes for a particularly easy equation: average shooting and average driving make for your average licensed video game. But Blood Stone goes one step further and even sullies the license it's basing itself around, especially surprising considering the top-tier talent - and Joss Stone, inexplicably - Bizarre drafted in to work on the game. The game forgets the charm of the character, using Daniel Craig's decent performance as a springboard for banal blasting. Oh, and there's also some late-game philosophising: after gunning through virtually inexhaustible human cannon fodder for the past five hours, the game concludes with an elevator ride and some needless prattle from Mr Nemesis (over a PA system, no less) about the nature of Bond's life and profession. Seriously, Bizarre?
Occasional glimmers of hope with Blood Stone are killed by an unwavering torrent of mediocrity - I haven't even mentioned the throwaway multiplayer mode, for instance, and I think that's for the best. While a crippling lack of ambition serves to dampen any fledgling hopes of entertainment, even the cutthroat aspirations of Katie Waissel couldn't hide the fact Blood Stone is a product built on shaky foundations.
VideoGamer.com Score5 Score out of 10
- Good voice cast.
- The smartphone is annoying.
- Generic driving.
- Generic shooting.