James Bond is in a strange crisis these days. While his latest film has been put on hold until MGM can sort out its financial issues, he's starring in two new games next month. The first is the re-imagined GoldenEye featuring Daniel Craig in a modern update to the classic, but gamers are also getting an entirely new adventure in 007 Blood Stone. As a longtime Bond fan I couldn't be happier and was eager to talk with Matt Cavanagh, lead designer at developer Bizarre Creations. Needless to say, a completely original 007 adventure in addition to a revamped GoldenEye make the uncertain future of the films a lot less painful.
Hi, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Could you introduce yourself and talk about your role on the project? How did you get into the game industry and what do you like most about what you do?
I’m Matt Cavanagh and I’m the Lead Designer at Bizarre Creations on Blood Stone.
With the recent cancellation of the latest James Bond movie, do you feel any added pressure to be the only new/original James Bond property in production?
I think it’s a real shame that MGM has had to halt production of the next Bond movie. There are millions of fans who are waiting for the next instalment of Daniel Craig’s Bond. I wouldn’t say there is added pressure on us however – there’s always pressure. I think if we’d been making a game which ties into the next Bond movie it would’ve been a different story.
The hand-to-hand combat looks pretty extensive and appears to incorporate a number of fighting styles. Could you talk about the details and nuances of Blood Stone’s fisticuffs?
All of the sequences for Bond’s hand-to-hand fighting were choreographed and performed by Ben Cooke, who is Bond’s actual movie stunt double. Our hand-to-hand system gave Ben a lot of freedom in the moves he could use and the sequences he could create and that let him really convey Bond’s character within Blood Stone’s fight sequences.
The gun combat appears to use a system similar to the “mark and execute” feature in Splinter Cell Conviction. Could you tell us more about that feature, and the gunplay in general?
We developed the focus aim system as a mechanism to encourage the player to use a mixture of gunplay and hand-to-hand takedowns without relying heavily on one style or the other. Of course players can play through the game using entirely gunplay or hand to hand takedowns, but the game encourages you to use a mixture of the two styles and that’s when you really feel like Bond. Focus aim is designed to be used within combat – not as a stealth mechanism such as mark and execute and it adds surprising depth to the game-play. Gun-play uses a cover combat mechanism which we’ve taken forward with the way takedowns are incorporated – you can take down enemies over or around cover projecting Bond out of the cover if the player wants to be aggressive, or hauling enemies into the cover if he’s being stealthy.
Daniel Craig’s movies are notable for their restrained used of gadgets. That said, does Bond have any spy toys in Blood Stone, and will his cars outfitted with the usual weapons and deterrents?
Bond’s only gadget in Blood Stone is his AR phone. Inline with Daniel Crag’s Bond Blood Stone is ‘gadget lite’. The AR phone (like all good Bond gadgets) is realistic and advanced just enough to be outside of the general public’s hands. It’s versatile and the player will find himself using it throughout all of the different game-play styles in the game.
Speaking of cars, in the trailers we’ve seen Bond driving an Aston Martin DBS V12 and his classic DB5, as well as a speedboat. Will he take control of other vehicles during the game?
Yeah there are one or two more quirky vehicles Bond can use.
About how much driving can we expect Bond to do in Blood Stone, and overall, what is the vehicular gameplay like? Is Bizarre Creations leveraging any of their experience with the Project Gotham games for these portions of the game?
Blood Stone is about high action, which means driving is one part of the adventure, not intended to be the majority of the game. Driving sections are generally like high-octane rollercoaster rides where the players constantly reacting to threats which the game puts in his way.
There is some rather epic environmental destruction happening in the trailers. Will Bond wreak havoc on the various locales he visits, and is destruction interactive or incorporated into the gameplay?
The huge destructive sequences in Blood Stone are driven by the narrative and what the player does in the game. For example, the refinery explodes after Bond overloads its systems, and the player has to deal with the consequences of these actions. In other levels, Bond can shoot cars which enemies are using as cover to detonate them or shoot holes in pipes which carry super heated fluids, so there’s a mixture.
So far we’ve heard that 007 will be visiting locales such as Siberia, Monaco, Bangkok, and Istanbul. Could you tell us more about these locations? Are there any nostalgic references to From Russia with Love in the Istanbul section?
Well, an important part of a Bond story is to convey a true globe-trotting adventure, and that’s what we have done with Blood Stone. Bond’s journey is entirely driven by the narrative and I don’t want to give too much of the game’s story away!
It must be great having Bruce Fierstein writing the story. Could you tell us a little bit about the story he’s created? Does it take place after Quantum of Solace, and if so, is the Quantum organization involved? How does it tie into the rest of the Bond canon?
Blood Stone is set after the events of Quantum of Solace, and is a completely new and independent adventure. It contains all of the hallmarks of a real Bond adventure – exotic locations over land sea and air, megalomaniac enemies and their evil schemes, Bond’s women – it’s all there, in fact it’s as close to a bond-film story as we could get without it actually being a game of a film; and that all comes from having an authentic Bond writer.
So far we’ve seen that Daniel Craig and Judi Dench are reprising their roles, With Joss Stone as the Bond girl and performer of the title song. Can you tell us about any of the other characters? Might we see some familiar faces, like Felix Leiter?
Felix isn’t part of Blood Stone’s story however other characters which you may remember – such as Tanner from Q branch are included in the game.
Blood Stone’s multiplayer is still a bit mysterious. Could you give us some details on how it works and the various modes it has?
Blood Stone’s multi player is primarily a team based objective game which pits MI6 agents against mercenaries. There are other game modes such as team death-match and last-man standing. The best players on each team will become Bond or his arch enemy depending on which team they are fighting for.
We haven’t seen much of Blood Stone on DS. Does it feature similar gameplay to its console big brothers, namely third-person shooting, fighting and driving? Will it feature multiplayer as well?
Yes the Nintendo DS version shares the same set of pillars and gameplay features, including multiplayer.
As a longtime fan of 007 games, I personally couldn’t help but notice some similarities between Blood Stone and Everything or Nothing. Did you take inspiration from any previous Bond games or movies?
Not really, Blood Stone was developed from the ground up as an original game within the Bond universe. I guess you could draw a parallel between the two games in terms of variety of game-play however any other similarities are not intentional.
Any chance we’ll see some post launch DLC or not?
This isn’t something we can discuss right now, but stay tuned for future announcements!
We would like to thank Matt for taking the time to answer our questions as well as Wiebke who helped to coordinate the interview