James Bond: Blood Stone — Neil Thompson Q&A

We caught up with Bizarre Creations Art Director Neil Thompson to talk about forthcoming 007 game, James Bond: Blood Stone...

On Activision’s 007 announcement day, we had the opportunity to sit in for a Q&A with Neil Thompson, Bizarre Creations Art Director Neil Thompson to talk about its forthcoming James Bond: Blood Stone, a game that blends third-person shooter, neck-breaking stealth and high octane driving…

The game looks quite Splinter Cell-esque, with its stealth as well as shooting…

Yeah, kind of. At all times we’re encouraging people to use hand-to-hand rather than just weapons. It’s just cooler, right?

What’s the balance between driving and third-person shooter sections?

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It’s about seventy percent driving, and thirty percent on foot.

And what’s the driving style like? Is it totally arcade style, or more a simulation?

It’s not completely sim. It’ll be a little like Blur and Project Gotham, which were more arcade-like than simulation.

What graphics engine does Blood Stone use?

It’s our own proprietary graphics engine.

James Bond is about driving and shooting, but also about the strength of its script. How have you got this across in the game?

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Without giving away too many spoilers, but there’s a device you can use which enables you to learn about the plot as you travel through the game, independently of what’s happening on screen.

What kind of Bond gadgets can we expect?

I can’t talk too much about that, but don’t forget that the tenet behind this game is that it’s very much a Daniel Craig Bond, so it’s a physical experience with less of an emphasis on gadgets.

Did you look back at the Quantum Of Solace tie-in to see if there were ways of improving on it?

We just wanted to go and make the best Bond experience we could, so we really didn’t use Quantum Of Solace as a reference point. We went back to the movies and used those as our inspiration.

What do you think makes a game a Bond game?

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The exotic locations. The Aston Martin. Having Bond on  screen. Huge, exciting set-pieces.

What about the multiplayer? Will it involve driving or shooting or both?

Yes we have a multiplayer, but it’ll be shooting rather than driving.

What characters will the player be able to play other than Bond?

We can’t give too much away, I’m afraid.

Why do you think a third-person view provides a better Bond experience than a first-person view?

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I think we just wanted to see Daniel Craig on screen. It’s a very aspirational experience being James Bond, and I think physically seeing the character on screen adds to that feeling of immersion in the game.

Will the PC version come out at the same time as the console versions, and what was the lead platform in development?

They’ll all be released simultaneously. It was developed for the Xbox. At Bizarre we primarily develop for that platform, but there’ll be no difference between the versions. It’ll be the same experience across the board. We’ve also tried to hide as many of the loading times as possible, so the game will load content during cut-scenes to maintain a cinematic flow to the game.

How does the Focus Aim mechanic work? Are there different methods of charging it other than killing?

Essentially, you do a take down, you get a Focus Aim, to a maximum of three. It encourages the use of hand-to-hand, basically. You can complete the game by running through shooting everyone, but that’s not really in the spirit of Bond.

Will there be several boss fights, or is there just one central villain?

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There’s more than one villain in the game. But how you encounter them differs from level to level. You may encounter them in a vehicle in one level, or in shooting section in the next.

What kind of vehicles can we expect to drive?

Well, of course, you get to drive the Aston Martin, and there’s the speed boat, and also another very fast supercar, but I’m not going to say what it is… but it’s very exciting.

Would you say it’s quite a linear game, or are there sandbox elements to it?

No, not really, it’s meant to tell a story, and I don’t think open world elements would have worked.

Are there any kind of Uncharted-style puzzle elements?

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A little bit. You can gain extra intelligence by playing the game in a different way.

With the game set in so many locations, did you have to do much scouting to get a feel for them?

We did a few, yes. Basically, we split it up into the environment teams, and ended up with about 12,000 photos, and that was our bible. We went back to them constantly for reference.

Working with the producers of the Bond movies, did you have any problems with what you could or couldn’t do with the character?

Obviously, we’re working with someone else’s property, which they’re very passionate about. There were restrictions, as you’d expect, but it’s such a hugely exciting license, and at the end of the day you’re working on a Bond game.

Neil Thompson, thank you for your time.

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James Bond: Blood Stone will be available for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, and is due for release in November.