Newsarama was recently issued a license to preview a pair of killer new James Bond games this week, the original title Blood Stone 007 and the Wii remake of the classic Nintendo 64 title, GoldenEye 007.
In Blood Stone 007 Developer Bizarre Creations (Blur, The Club) is looking to fuse the best elements of the James Bond film franchise, the most popular features of 3rd person action games and their own studio’s core competencies to try and make the next great original Bond adventure.
The actor playing the role defines each James Bond era, and the Daniel Craig Bond is one that eschews gadgetry and subtlety for swift and painful-looking action. For the game, Daniel Craig’s voice and likeness have been cast in the lead role, and Craig’s Hollywood stunt double Ben Cooke performs the motion capture. The use of this real life, experienced Bond stuntman for not only basic character movement, but for close range melee takedowns is an apt touch that at the very least shows an impressive attention to detail. Rounding out the ‘returning’ cast is Judi Dench as M and Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner, an MI-5 handler who does most of the exposition via Bond’s smartphone.
Rounding out the cast is singer/songwriter Joss Stone who performed the game’s theme, which is done in classic Bond opening credits style. Stone was also cast as the game’s female lead, a “wealthy socialite” who is somehow mixed up in an international plot involving a missing scientist, diamonds and bio-warfare. The game’s story was written by Bruce Feirstein, himself a veteran of several Bond movies, including GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies, and the game version of From Russia with Love. At this point, there is no information as to if Blood Stone 007 involves the QUANTUM meta-plot from the previous two films, but it is an original story.
The build Activision demoed opens just as the final game will. Terrorists are planning to blow up a G-20 summit in Athens and on orders from M, Bond parachutes onto the yacht of the terrorist leader. Reportedly, many of the third person stages will allow for the possibility of using stealth through to their completion, and on the yacht Bond can wait until backs are turned to perform silent takedowns. Stealth and melee kills, up to three, will earn Bond a ‘focused aim’ attack similar to Sam Fisher in the most recent Splinter Cell. For this game, these special attacks will slow down time for you to draw a bead on foes yourself.
A stealthy approach will also allow you to take advantage of what might be Bond’s lone ‘gadget,’ a smartphone that plays the role of scanner, hacker and radar (it can even receive phone calls). When activated it provides an overlay of your current view, not too much unlike Batman: Arkham Asylum’s Detective Vision. With the smartphone turned on, you cannot attack, but foes in the immediate area will be called out with their armament and state of alertness, even through walls. In addition, the waypoint to the current objective will be displayed; any collectables in the area will be indicated as well as any interactive objects, like exploding barrels.
However, stealth and a silenced PPK are not required, as you can go in guns-a-blazing and take advantage of cover and regenerating health if the mood strikes you. Certain sequences will also require you to move quickly over obstacles to escape collapsing tunnels and other encroaching perils.
On occasion, twice in the Athens/yacht opening sequence and reportedly for 20 to 25% of the entire game, you will transition into an arcade-style driving sequence. Bizarre Creations, calling upon their driving simulation experience with their Project Gotham Racing franchise and the recent Blur, have made the racing sequences in Blood Stone 007 smooth and easy to handle. The chases also feature frequent checkpoints, as you are often faced with certain death from environmental obstacles as you are either being chased, by a helicopter in the opening, or doing the chasing, in the case of a French Connection style train pursuit along a frozen Siberian river that’s cracking under your car’s weight. Though in keeping with the current Bond’s style there are no gadgets like hidden machine guns, you will be driving accurate models of the Aston Martin DBS and the classic DB5 that was featured in the Connery days in films like Goldfinger and Thunderball.
While James Bond’s next cinematic adventure is delayed “indefinitely” as MGM and EON Productions wrestle over the finances, Blood Stone 007 for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC will be released this November. But that's not all from Activision in the world of Bond this fall, as they also resurrect a true behemoth in the first person shooter world.
“It’s an honor and a ton of weight on our shoulders,” says Activision producer Graham Hagmaier on the prospect of releasing an ‘enhanced remake’ of the classic FPS and multiplayer phenomenon GoldenEye 007 for the Wii. The original 1997 Nintendo 64 title was not only among the greatest games of all time, but is called out as the rare exception to the rule about lousy movie-games.
To those who played the original, the new GoldenEye 007 will feel both familiar and strange, like visiting a childhood home after growing up. Chiefly among the changes is Daniel Craig in a fully voiced lead role as Bond, who along with Judi Dench as M and Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner are the only ‘real life’ carryovers. While the other film/previous game characters are present like leggy hitwoman Xenia Onatopp and hacker Boris Grishenko, they have all been recast, even actor Sean Bean is out as 006. With the passage of time, certain setting and plot elements have also been updated to take into account changes in technology and geopolitics in the past fifteen years. While the basic plot about the hijacking of satellites containing EMP devices returns, the circumstances of how the threat comes about have changed.
These changes, and the added power of the Wii over the N64, have altered the levels and their layout as well. While the dam level is still begins with the familiar watchtower, tunnel and pair of bridges, right around the corner the level expands and branches out with a rail-shooting sequence and a slow motion control room breach. While this is supposed to hearken back to the original game, it is based off the movie license, so some of those changes are natural. The penultimate level still involves a satellite control array in a jungle, but instead submerged in a Cuban lake, it is now in hidden among a solar power plant in Nigeria. Among the gameplay changes are melee takedowns, destructible cover and environments, regenerating health and a two-weapon carry limit. Making a return is the process of adding objectives on higher difficulty levels, including a ‘classic mode’ as the highest level, where there is no health regen. Instead, you need to find body armor just like in the original game.
In multiplayer GoldenEye 007 brings back four player split screen for local play and up to eight players online using what Activision is calling ‘help’ negotiating Nintendo’s Friend Code system. The online multiplayer will also feature a perk/XP system to unlock special powers and attachments for weapons. From the classic game modes like Golden Gun and paintball are back as well as some new games like You Only Live Twice, which gives you just two lives. Some clever new touches include a Singularly mode that will cause any two players that touch each other to explode and Happy Feet mode that will kill you if you stand still too long, ending the scourge of campers.
GoldenEye 007 will try to recapture some FPS magic on November 2, 2010 for the Wii and Nintendo DS.Which Bond are you more excited for?