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n n n n Gaming LIKE A Bizarre Creations puts superspy James Bond back in action with 007 Blood Stone ROLLIN STONE 7 By Martin McEachern 23. But in April, franchise co-caretakers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, announced they were suspending pr oduction indefinitely as the near-bankrupt MGM struggled to stay alive. Approximately $4 billion in debt, the once-mighty studio behind Gone with the Wind and Doctor Zhivago is still trying to restructure, but until a deal can be worked out, has precious little to bankroll an action juggernaut on the scale required by a 007 flick. To make matters worse, the playing field has been overcrowded of late with superspy look-alikes, from Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne to Angelina Jolie’s Salt, all duking it out in the multiplex es. As 007 remained in limbo at the cash-strapped MGM, Broccoli and Wilson needed a way to put the main attraction back in action … and fast. To that end, they turned to Liv erpool, E ngland-based developer Bi- E zarre Creations, architects of the epochal Project Gotham Racing 4 and this spring’s racing hit Blur. Charged with pr oducing a game that has all the star power, production value, and escapist mixture of romance, humor, and adventure of the Bond films, the result is this month’s 007 Blood Stone for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Scripted by veteran Bond writer B ruce Feirstein, the brains behind Tomorrow Never Dies, GoldenEye, and Te World is Not Enough, James Bond 007: Blood Stone is an action-packed tour de force filled with car and boat chases, international terr orists, an o ver-the-top villain, K en Adams-inspired production design, and ex otic locales stretching from Athens to Istanbul, Siberia to Bangkok, and even the South of France. The Plot Of course, the game wouldn ’t be complete without the iconic Bond girl. In Blood Stone, she’s Nicole Hunter, played by singer Joss Stone. A socialite and diamond expert resembling a posh, more cerebral Paris 16 November 2010 arlier this y ear, following the 2008 film release of Quantum of Solace, a $586 million hit, director Sam Mendes was set to roll on the next James Bond movie: the tentatively titled Bond Hilton, Hunter becomes embroiled in a diamond trafficking ring that draws the attention of ne w Bond super villain Greco. Together, Bond and Hunter try to find a missing researcher feared dead in an interna - tional conspiracy that may land the UK’s new secret biochemical weap- on in Greco’s nefarious hands. As they race to foil his plans for world domination, Bond and Hunter navigate a plot that not only includes diamond smuggling, but thr eads genetic engineering and globalism into its complex narrative weave. For Blood Stone, we wanted “ total immersion in the world that is Bond,” says longtime Bond custodian Wilson. Indeed, the breadth of the collaboration betw een Bizarre and EON—the pr oduction com- pany behind the films—was considerable. EON availed B izarre of most of the Bond production crew to plug holes in their skill set. Bond stuntman Ben Cooke choreographed the hand-to-hand combat for the game’s fight sequences, while Bond costume designer Lindsay Pugh tai- lored the game’s digital clothes. Actors Daniel Craig and Judi Dench also reprise their roles, lending both their voice and digital likeness. Joss Stone, along with the Euryth- mics’ Dave Stewart, composed the game’s theme song, “I’ll Take It All,” which plays over a splashy opening credit sequence featuring silhouettes fighting and posing against DNA strands composed of diamonds—the quintessential Bond film opening. “It was hugely important for us to present a cinematic experience that will appeal to both Bond fans and gamers alike, ” says Bizarre producer Nick Davies. Te goal from the outset, he says, was not only to immerse the player in the Bond experience, but, par ticularly, to capture the pacing of a Bond film. Indeed, the variety and intensity of the action in the pre-credits opening sequence is incredible—moving rapidly from parachuting, racing speedboats and cars, to on-foot, r un-and-gun, and hand-to-hand combat sequences that seamlessly incorporate cinematics. Opening in the skies o ver Athens, the game begins with Bond— perched in the loading bay of a jet air craft—parachuting onto a heav-

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