"Shaken, But Not Quite Stirred"

The Spectrum

Grade: C+

007: Blood Stone has some of the most precise driving a James Bond title has ever possessed. Unfortunately, the rest of the game isn't as precise as its three five-minute, action-packed vehicle sequences.

There's a lot to hate about this game. Between one of the worst AI structures, a story mode that takes three hours to play through, a horrific attempt at an online multiplayer, and a sub-par plot that would make Ian Fleming roll over in his grave, this is the worst excuse for a video game to ever include the international man of mystery.

Factually, it should be that way. This game should in no way be fun, but somehow, like a new Green Day song, it will be played over and over again, even if it's not that great.

The story is short, but thankfully so, as this secret agent shooter quickly falls into a monotonous rhythm.

While each individual level feels unique, the level design begins to blend together as each mission will consist of finding a piece of evidence and a large firefight, followed by a thrilling driving sequence. It seems as though before the game really gets started, the credits begin to roll and the British super agent has unveiled another sinister plot.

What makes this game mildly acceptable is that the gameplay is so addicting. Bond's combination of stealth takedowns, precision aiming, and hand-to-hand fisticuffs make 007: Blood Stone worthy of any gamer's weekend.

While the mechanics are not perfect in Blood Stone, there are a few spectacular features, the first of which is the "Focus Kill" meter.

After Bond executes a stealth takedown or beats an enemy in hand-to-hand combat, the player is given the opportunity to have Bond do the work and automatically target an enemy's head for a quick drop. This feature is comparable to Splinter Cell: Conviction's "Mark and Execute" game mechanic.

The cover system the game employs works nearly perfectly, as Bond runs from pillar to pillar taking time to blind fire with any of the game's 16 weapon choices.

The in-game weapons are nothing new to the shooting genre, consisting of classic Bond silenced pistols to deafening shotguns, even incorporating a stun gun to help Bond run amok in Bangkok. Sadly, these in-game powerhouses don't translate well into Blood Stone's online play.

Multiplayer on Xbox Live is less than ideal, as system lag destroys any chance the game had at being fun. Players will take down an enemy and seconds later find themselves on the ground, as the game just cannot keep up with the multitude of MI6 agents on the map.

As far as third person shooters go, Blood Stone is quite forgettable, a mere paragraph in the tome that is the James Bond franchise.

Bizarre Creations, the game's developer, is the team behind the Project Gotham Racing series, which undoubtedly gives players one of the best racing experiences on the Xbox 360. Using a similar driving scheme in Blood Stone, Bizarre Creations creates the debonair driving experience fans of the Bond games have always wanted.

The release date of the company's introduction to the Bond realm has come at an inopportune time, as developer Eurocom put out the long awaited GoldenEye 007 on the same exact date.

E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com