IGN Review of James Bond: Blood Stone
It's funny, if I had played a game for a home console that had the flaws and annoyances of James Bond 007: Blood Stone DS, I would have turned it off in a matter of minutes. The fact that this third-person shooter is portable, though, made me largely look past its failings and just enjoy it for what it is: one of the better shooters on the system.
Blood Stone DS is a third-person shooter following Daniel Craig's version of James Bond. You take Bond on a journey around the world in order to uncover a secret organization's plot that could threaten world stability, blah, blah, blah – you know the drill. The story isn't really anything special or unique, but the combat makes it bearable despite how clichéd it feels.
Blood Stone wants to be a cover-based shooter/stealth-action game, but it's a little too easy on the Normal difficulty to necessitate these mechanics. In general, the enemies don't do enough damage and are so stupid they'll stand out in the open so you can shoot them and keep on running. And don't worry about losing health by not taking cover, as you'll quickly regenerate this after a couple of moments out of combat. Still, if you want to use cover you'll find it works quite well; you simply walk up to cover, press a button on the touch-screen, and use the D-pad to lean out when you want to shoot.
The stealth portions of Blood Stone aren't very well developed. Rarely do you actually have to use it to succeed, and all it basically boils down to is slowly walking up behind an enemy and doing a one hit kill. If you are accidentally seen it usually doesn't matter, as enemies will yell and shoot and the others around them won't hear unless they're laughably close. It could have been really cool if developer n-Space had turned the stealth mechanics into something deeper – perhaps allowing us to climb pipes or walls a la Sam Fisher from Splinter Cell – but as they stand now they're only a rarely useful, and mostly forgettable, feature.
Stealth or cover were useful in the rare instance that I found myself in a potentially overwhelming situation, but even without them I had a good time thanks to Blood Stone's shooting mechanics. Bond is moved with the D-pad (or face buttons if you're a lefty), aiming is done with the stylus, and shooting with the shoulder buttons. Players don't have to worry about zooming, all they have to do is negotiate the environment, aim a cursor, and pull a trigger. It's simplistic, yes, but also works really well with the obvious limitations that having only a D-pad and no analog stick presents. Occasional hand cramps can be expected due to the awkward way you have to hold the system, but this is easily one of the better-controlling shooters I've played on the DS.
Blood Stone isn't just about shooting, and the other portions serve the overall experience by breaking up the pacing. At several points Bond is lured into vehicular chases, sometimes driving boats on water while shooting enemies, other times driving his car through a series of harrowing situations. The same shooting and cover mechanics apply to the boat stages (meaning they're actually pretty fun), but the driving levels are uninteresting. The cars don't give the sense of speed that they should, making these stages little more than mindless distractions from the core shooting experience.
The vehicle stages in Blood Stone are uneven, but the portions where you use Bond to do spying – you know, what his actual job is – made really clever use of the DS. Each level usually has a spot where Bond has to use his brain to overcome a situation, sometimes in the form of using his cellphone to undo a combination lock, other times operating a surveillance system so that he can scan the faces in a room, or maybe decoding a hidden message from a series of pictures. Each of these serve as simple, yet surprisingly engaging mini-games that help stagger out the more intense shooting sections.
Blood Stone is a decent DS shooter, just don't buy it for multiplayer. I can't say if the multiplayer is terrible or amazing, and as much as I'd like to find out I don't think I ever will since no one appears to be playing. Multiple attempts at finding an online game yielded no results, so buyer beware.
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