||Activision is just full of surprises this year. First we get an impeccable Spider-Man game with no movie tie-in, and now, here comes our favorite MI6 agent with an all-new adventure, also sans movie. Perhaps the gaming industry is finally getting the message that good games don't require a movie license?just good gameplay...James Bond 007: Blood Stone is certainly the dark horse of shooters this season with so many other major titles, both new and franchise sequels, all arriving in the holiday surge of games that starts today. Bond even has to compete with himself, as GoldenEye is also making its triumphant return on Wii and DS today, but next-gen gamers won't be left out. Blood Stone might lack the nostalgia and name-recognition of the N64 classic, but it certainly isn't lacking in authentic James Bond action. What other franchise can you skydive into Greece, kill 20-30 guys; take part in a speedboat chase, and a car chase, and save the Acropolis, all before the opening credits?...At its core, Bond is a cover-shooter. You run around the levels snapping to cover then taking shots at an overwhelming number of enemies. You can also mix this up with melee combat in the forms of takedowns and stealth takedowns whenever you get within striking distance. Performing these moves fuels your Focus Aim, up to three charges at a time. You can then use this to slow down time and nail a few instant kills, usually headshots. My only complaint with takedowns is they are one-button and automatic ? no real skill involved other than getting close enough...Admittedly, I knew nothing about this game prior to its arrival for review. All my attention was being directed toward GoldenEye so I was surprised, both at the horribly bad first-impression this game makes and how much of a complete turnaround for the better Blood Stone achieves by the end. Arguably, there isn't that much of a Bond feel to the game other than Craig's accent and a few familiar bars of the Bond theme music, but as action-shooters that mix stealth and melee, and a few car chases tossed in to spice things up, you won't find much better this holiday season.