Having the sole rights to a gaming franchise can be good or bad, depending on how hard you try to push the series forward.
With James Bond, Activision has somehow managed to take a step forward and back simultaneously, with James Bond 007: Blood Stone on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and GoldenEye 007 on the Wii.
Both cast Daniel Craig as Bond, have pretty good graphics for their respective systems and capture the essence of Bond movies. But that's where we'll stop with the comparisons because there's really no similarity beyond that.
The bad is Blood Stone. It's not that it's a horrible game. It's that it doesn't distinguish itself among more established franchises, such as Splinter Cell and Call of Duty. When you have the world's best secret agent for your game, you have half the ingredients needed to blow away the competition. After all, Bond gets the coolest gadgets, the fastest cars and the most beautiful women. And those ingredients were void in Blood Stone — even with Craig as Bond and Judi Dench as M.
Bond has a smart phone, which is useful for talking to M and locating enemies. You do get to weave through traffic in an Aston Martin DB5. And pop singer Joss Stone fills the role as token Bond girl Nicole Hunter. All are good characters, but there are no memorable villains. And there are no cool gadgets.
There are times when it does seem like a Bond movie. Developer Bizarre Creations did a good job weaving in some of the cutscenes. For example, a boat race near the beginning does a masterful job of weaving animated scenes in with gameplay. These are nice touches.
And there's relatively no learning curve, mostly because Blood Stone is like every other third-person shooter. The enemy artificial intelligence is pretty dumb, and there's no real challenge unless you're playing on 007 mode, the hardest level. Also, the online mode is pathetic.
By comparison, GoldenEye manages to do so many things right. Activision resurrected the title from the popular Bond game on the Nintendo 64, but it didn't just rely on the name. There is very little to compare it to in terms of the N64 version, and that starts with the controls.
This is a first-person shooter, and unlike most developers, Eurocom made a game for Activision that uses the Wii's motion sensor remote and makes you feel as if you're truly a part of the game.
There is a huge learning curve in trying to maneuver Bond, change weapons, melee, reload and shoot, but you get a handsome reward in enjoyment for your efforts.
The AI is pretty good, but once they spot you, everyone will fire on you. In other words, figure it out quickly.
Multiplayer, which was the bread and butter for the N64 version, is still fantastic.
If there is a complaint about this game, it will come from GoldenEye fans who are annoyed that Pierce Brosnan was booted in favor of Craig. But with the exception of a few tweaks and the removal of some characters, it does no true harm to the game. Besides, you're playing in first-person, so it's not as if you can see the character.
In the battle of the Bonds, GoldenEye gets the nod because in some ways it sets the standard. Meanwhile, Blood Stone just made a third-person game that has Bond in it.