GoldenEye 007 & Blood Stone – James Bond goes head to head with himself.

Posted on October 5, 2010


“Ah, Mr. Bond, we’ve been expecting you”

Whilst this could be the line of some megalomaniacal villain, it is far more likely the universal cry of the typical Bond fan as they eagerly await the next oo7 film. Sadly, it looks like they will be in for quite a long wait.

For those of you who might not know, the prospects of a new James Bond film happening any time soon is fairly slim. This is due to the uncertainty over MGM’s future as it labours under nearly $4 billion worth of debt.

EoN Productions are unable to produce another James Bond film without MGM, and whilst that company’s future hangs in the balance, so does the fate of James Bond films.

Back in April, EoN stated that work on the next Bond film, Bond 23, was “indefinitely suspended” due to MGM’s financial uncertainty.

The lion that lost its roar. MGM has a serious thorn in its paw.

However, producer Michael G Wilson has stated that “Both Barbara [Broccoli] and I are convinced that we’ll be bringing you another Bond film soon” and Daniel Craig has insisted that, whilst the filming is on hold, he is “…champing at the bit to get going on it as quickly as possible.”

Despite their assurances and several bids for MGM (notably from Spyglass Entertainment) this remains wishful thinking.

However, whilst there is no James Bond film on the horizon, there is good news for fans and gamers, with not one but two new 007 video games due to be released.

The first game is actually a re-imagining of  the classic first-person shooter GoldenEye 007, produced by Rare and originally released on the Nintendo 64 in 1997.

Whilst this might seem to be step backward to some, the N64 version of the game, based on the 1995 Pierce Brosnan film, is considered by many gamers to be a classic and the benchmark by which all other first-person shooters should be measured. GoldenEye 007 certainly introduced many of the elements that are now essential to any self-respecting FPS, and it boasts a gameplay that is intuitive, addictive and insanely fun. It is certainly looking dated, but it is telling that this game still commands incredible respect in the gaming community, with many gamers still holding on to their old Nintendo consoles purely to play it.

It's no fun being a Russian goon.

A re-release in some capacity has been spoken about for years, so it comes as no surprise that it has been given an update. However, some very pertinent questions remain: For example, how do you make a game that so many people are familiar with, fresh and exciting? How do you update it, yet still keep the existing fans happy? More importantly, how do you market a game based on the previous incarnation of Bond when Daniel Craig has taken over the role?

Well, certainly it is a difficult balancing act, and one that developers Eurocom have negotiated with surprising finesse. They have managed to update the gameplay to incorporate co-operative, stealth and hand-to-hand combat, as well as the familiar  shoot ’em up thrills of the first game. They have kept many of the familiar environments, but made the tactics of negotiating them more challenging. They have updated the plot to make it more relevant to the present climate and, lastly, they have made their James Bond in the likeness of Daniel Craig.

Look familiar, oo7?

This last point I was unsure about. Pierce Brosnan gets a fair amount of negative press, due mainly to the quality of his last outing as Bond, Die Another Day. However, many fans consider GoldenEye to have been a great Bond adventure, and it seems sad that this one triumph has been taken away from him. Having said that, having Daniel Craig as Bond seems to be the only way to logically update and promote this game to the present audience.

So, how does it compare? Well, looking at the released footage, the gameplay seems to have been updated to give a much more immersive feel and the graphics, obviously, have been vastly improved upon. The environments look and feel much more atmospheric and the co-operative element in the first level is a departure from the first game and adds another dimension of challenge.

The multiplayer, so much a part of the first game, has not been neglected here either, and features classic environments and characters as well as a host of new maps and scenarios and up to eight players on line.

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If this weren’t enough, yet another James Bond game is being released on the very same day. Blood Stone is an entirely different beast, a third-person shooter with an entirely original plot by veteran Bond writer Bruce Feirstein, who has collaborated on GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, as well as solely writing Tomorrow Never Dies and the video game Everything Or Nothing.

Blood Stone also features the voice and likeness of Daniel Craig, as well as Judi Dench and Joss Stone. Stone plays Bond’s love interest in the film, as well as singing the title track, composed by herself and Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics.

The gameplay looks fast and frenetic, with a combination of shooting, driving, stealth and a new hand-to-hand combat system that incorporates fight choreography by Ben Cooke, Daniel Craig’s stunt double.

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The graphics look polished and visually the game seems quite cinematic, with subtle touches such as spray hitting the screen when driving a boat.

So far the plot seems to concern the abduction of a british scientist and the theft of a bio-weapon that, if the titles and the name are anything to go by, has to do with diamonds and DNA. Whilst the plot seems to be the sort of more fantastical fare associated with Brosnan’s era, the gameplay looks furiously quick and Daniel Craig’s Bond appears to be as cold and brutal as he is in his two cinematic outings.

It is interesting that, whilst Activision and EoN have decided to launch these games simultaneously, they are releasing them on different platforms; GoldenEye 007 is exclusive to the Wii and Blood Stone will be available on PlayStation 3 and the XBox 360. Whilst this is a canny piece of marketing, designed at selling more consoles than games, it will leave many fans that don’t own both a Wii or a PlayStation/Xbox 360 frustrated.

The video game market is already bigger than that of film, and growing. Many production companies, including EoN, are looking more and more into this market. However, despite the solid games on offer here, they will be little substitute for the next Bond film, although, with that looking at a 2012 release at the very earliest, they will provide a decent fix of Bond for the fans in the interim.

GoldenEye 007 (2010) and Blood Stone are released on November 2nd.