007 is finally back in Quantum of Solace, the new James Bond title that has landed ahead of the movie release.
Overseas, the video game has coincided with the release of the movie, however in New Zealand we are left to wait, but the game is here to whet our appetites and gives little away regarding the new film. Treyarch are behind this new title and the pressure is on. Will GoldenEye retain its untouchable status, or can this new Bond title be a contender?
We are enormous fans of James Bond, and therefore were reasonably excited at the prospect of a new title. These have traditionally been hit and miss, and most fans would probably just wish for a revamped version of GoldenEye, but we know that’s not happening any time soon. Quantum of Solace, despite the title, has very little to do with the new movie. The game plays out a stage from the film, and then goes back in time to Casino Royale. You will essentially play through most of the relevant and important scenes in Casino Royale, including the construction site, the casino and quite spectacularly the moving train scene.
The story follows the Casino Royale movie faithfully in the form of small cut-scenes, and also through an MI6 computer programme that loads up the voice recordings and video recordings that were stored from the Casino Royale mission. This is well executed, and it does make you feel as though you are in a real James Bond movie. What is also great to see is that the single-player is entirely devoid of any loading screens, with the game loading the next level in the background during the cut-scenes. This also makes the jumps between levels feel seamless and very quick, the game never taking you out of the action for long. What is a shame however is that the single-player campaign will really only take somewhere between six to eight hours, making it one of the shorter campaigns we have played.
The graphics in the game are pretty enough, although certainly not the best we have seen. The game is based on the Call of Duty 4 engine, much like Call of Duty: World At War, which Treyarch have also developed. And the graphics reflect this, although occasionally they do seem to be lacking in sharpness. James Bond is modelled very accurately after Daniel Craig, and certainly looks the part. The other characters also look realistic and are easily recognisable from Casino Royale. The explosions are dramatic and there are some nice slow-down effects when you are too close to an explosion, or when a fire extinguisher explodes next to you. There are some very nice rain effects, and even a scene where you see bodies floating down a small drain, which was pretty impressive.
The gameplay itself has some strong points, if a little too busy at times, which seems to be something which applies to most Treyarch shooters. The game seems to zip by with your character being very quick on his feet. A massive emphasis on action and explosions also means that throughout all the levels there are numerous items which you can shoot to cause a huge amount of destruction. The environment is definitely your friend, and on top of this a solid cover system means you can hide behind most objects to avoid being hit, either blind firing or leaning out to take pot shots at the enemies. Enemies will react to you, and to the environment. Reloading will often result in an enemy running at you, attempting to get the upper hand. They will run and slide behind cover to avoid being shot, and frequently use this cover to the their own advantage.
A nice addition is the melee combat. You can run (or sneak) up behind an enemy and melee attack them, which will result in a small attack animation in James Bond’s usual style, during which you simply need to press a button on the control pad. There are also larger action sequences, such as the fight on top of the moving train in Casino Royale where you have to hit and mash buttons in order to successfully deflect attacks and win the battle. These are very cinematic and cleverly integrated, although if you’ve seen the movie, there's not a lot extra to see here.
The sneaking has also been quite well implemented with a good balance between detection and your ability to sneak up behind enemies to stealthily kill them. Your pistols and most weapons also come with silencers, which helps for those distant kills. A number of security cameras also litter the environment, which you need to avoid, but which also can be disabled if you can find the control panel. You can use your phone to track enemy movements and patrol paths, and the enemy chatter you can overhear helps give you clues as well. Unfortunately though, for a James Bond title, the phone is virtually the only gadget you will see in the entire game.
007 is the king of fancy tools and spy gadgets, and Q is the man to give them to him. But Treyarch seem to have forgotten this intrinsic part of James Bond, and this is one of the true failings of this title. It is a good shooter, with a good cover system (and the AI aren’t half bad), but it may as well just be another shooter rather than a James Bond title. Where is the laser watch? The driving scenes? The gadgets we love? Needless to say, this is disappointing, and in light of this if it weren’t for the tie-in to the movie there would be little to suggest you were playing a James Bond title.
The multiplayer has several solid game modes, including your usual death match modes, and also a "Golden Gun" mode and a "Bond Evasion" mode. Credits are earned in these modes to spend on unlocks, much like in Call of Duty 4, but without the perks. Bond Evasion involves helping 007 escape the level with the other team trying to take him down. Golden Gun consists of a golden gun being placed on the level for the players to capture and control to win the round. We were excited on first trying Golden Gun mode due to the fond memories we have of the Golden Gun from previous Bond titles. However Treyarch have outfitted the Golden Gun with exploding rounds that simply make it too overpowered, and this was more frustrating than fun. However the multiplayer is reasonably diverse and can be enjoyable, even if we did experience connection problems with US games.
Overall, Quantum of Solace is a fair effort, and Treyarch have developed a good shooter with some neat levels and effects. The melee combat is a nice addition, and the stealth aspect of the game is well-implemented. However with a short single-player and a multiplayer that most likely won’t stand the test of time as people move onto bigger and better things, it is rather hit and miss.
The overly quick gameplay that carries over from the single player into the multiplayer has a tendency to ruin some of the better moments by rushing you through them, and the highly linear levels also make you feel channelled along a certain path.
The lack of any of 007's famous gadgets and toys also make this games only real tie to James Bond the characters and the story. With the range of great titles around at the moment, you might rather rent this for a week and see how it sits with you. The ultimate Bond experience it is not.
If you're after some more 007 action, we have three Quantum of Solace videos available at GP Downloads.