007 seems fresh now that Bizarre Creation has got their hands on it. I got to check out James Bond 007: Blood Stone last night and came away with the feeling that Bond is in good hands.
The preview had a surprise ending that I'll ruin right now: The whole demo, which consisted of several different types of gameplay, including boat driving and car racing, turned out to be the game's introduction. It worked out to be a very cool way to show off the varied game play as well as one of the most seamless training/tutorial segments I've ever seen. Immediately after finishing the assigned mission, the game cut to the opening credits, complete with the new Joss Stone theme song. She's the new Bond girl, you know.
This slick playable intro is its own standalone mission. Bond is in Greece during a photo shoot for all the world's leaders. A force was hired to protect all of these people, but M (voiced by Judi Dench) doesn't trust him or his men, and calls in Bond to do the heavy work. It's a good thing that Bond was called in, as Greco, a powerful arms dealer, is there to blow the whole shebang up, world leaders included.
Bond starts out on foot, working his way through Greco's men. He makes his way thorough this senselessly large army using the game's freedom of decision. In one encounter, Bond was taking cover around the corner, and the game gave the option to stealthily kill him or come out with guns blazing. Being Bond, it makes more sense to play to his strengths, taking cover, quietly killing, and then moving on to the next.
If you're good enough to pull of melee kills, you'll earn Focus Kills. These Focus Kills are like freebie auto-kills. If a particular encounter looks too tough to take on, you can trigger a Focus Kill to take out the obstacle without worry of being hit. It seems like smart play to build up and hold onto Focus Kills until you'll really need them is a good way to go. Between these Focus Kills and a solid looking cover system, the on-foot gameplay of Blood Stone looks promising. Adding in a bit of racing action from the makers of the fine racer Project Gotham Racing would be like icing on the cake, but apparently the racing is going to play a bigger role. Fine by me!
In the demo we saw both boat and car racing. The speedboat section looked fantastic, and very cinematic. The lighting on the water surface was beautiful. Water spayed back and onto the screen as we sped through an Athens waterway in a high-speed chase, dodging gunfire and falling set pieces, working to dodge other oncoming boats, skimming our way under a larger ship. The racing, in Bond's Aston Martin, was equally nice. In this section we set off after a car of bombs that Greco sent to blow up the world leaders. The car whipped through caves and past oncoming traffic in a setting that looks appropriate for both a racing game and a Bond game. And being a movie game, the chase ends in a flashy crash scene that satisfies after all of that fancy wheel work.
Like I said, this was just the introduction! James Bond 007: Blood Stone's intro is already more exciting to me than the last Bond title. We'll need a full-on, proper hands-on to say for certain, but Blood Stone looks to be more like the game you'd expect to come from the movie, and a vast improvement over the most recent games.