As evidenced in previous James Bond video games, it’s a pure rush of adrenaline to step into the shoes of the debonair agent. From GoldenEye to From Russia With Love, the Bond games have usually been faithful recreations of the films or entirely new adventures to embark on. With Quantum of Solace, the newest addition to the Bond game library, the total immersion of being Bond is alive and well. With much owed to the Call of Duty 4 engine, this is a fast-paced, fun FPS with elements of third-person shooters.
Picking up exactly where the previous Bond flick left off, Quantum of Solace follows the events laid out in the film. In an almost entirely first-person perspective, you’re controlling Bond (with a fantastic likeness of Daniel Craig) through your typical gunfights, explosive escapes, and situations that you just can’t help but walk away feeling like, well, a badass.
For all intents and purposes, the game plays identically to Call of Duty 4, save for the fact that there have been some button changes and the addition of a third-person cover system. While entrenched in some heavy gunfire, Bond can now run up against suitable locations and use them as cover. This is as simple as pressing the left stick forward and pressing A, or simply running forward. Bond will take cover in a Gears of War-style scene, and is protected from enemy fire. Aiming will make Bond susceptible to attack, but he can also blind-fire to take out any stray enemies.
While this is much less accurate than aiming, with sudden onslaughts of enemies who are as deadly with their aim as you can be, you’ll be relying on it often. However, when running to cover, you will find that some locations will simply not allow you to duck down beside them. They may look like appropriate cover spots, but the game will not let you seek refuge. It’s unclear whether certain spots are just not allowed to be used or if it was a flaw with the cover system, as approaching them at different angles seemed to flow seamlessly into a cover position. However, this irritating process brought on a lot of unnecessary deaths and severely hinders Bond’s performance in more fast-paced battles that require more precision and less spraying. You can’t afford to peek out of cover during a fight with three or more snipers.
Aside from the usual assortment of guns, rocket launchers, and grenades, Bond can also perform real-time melee kills. Rushing into an enemy will prompt a button-press. If hit quickly enough, Bond will take down the enemy in a number of different ways via an attack animation. This often proves more effective than simply running and gunning, as you take less damage during the process. Certain important fights throughout the game also take advantage of this feature, lending a third-person God of War feel to the action. It works well and adds a deserved cinematic feel to what would otherwise be another run-of-the-mill FPS. I would have liked to have seen more incorporated into the storyline, but what is included is most definitely enough to satiate gamers’ appetites for interactive cut scenes. And when Bond isn’t fighting? He’s patching into video cameras, unlocking electronic doors, or hacking into computers. However, the technology aspect is not as involved as we have seen in previous ventures. While this is appropriate for the new edgier Daniel Craig Bond, the gadgets did add a layer of intrigue to the franchise, and they are sorely missed here.
For the collectors out there, you can scout out cell phones throughout levels that will net achievements and unlockable content. They are hidden throughout levels and will ring faintly when you are in their vicinity. I thought this seemed like a hasty attempt to get achievement enthusiasts interested in the game, because the intel the phones provide is nothing too interesting that you couldn’t have picked up from the story or the movie.
Every cut scene in between levels is comprised of telecommunication between Bond and M, or one of the other contacts you will meet throughout the game. I felt that this was very boring and rushed, as if the developers didn’t want to put any work into story-telling cut scenes. They are flat black backgrounds with colorful text and images, featuring voices and bland information. They do very little to entice the gamer to hover on the cut scene for any longer than it takes to load the next level. In the past, Bond cut scenes tied in with the action and were parts of the games to look forward to rather than dread. These are painfully long to watch, and prompt you to skip over the remainder of each scene as soon as the level has loaded. Thankfully, scenes within levels make up for the fact that in between missions is so dull and repetitive. With that said, there are hardly as many full-CG cut scenes as I would have liked to have seen. It seems as though they purposely cut out the addition of them so as to focus more on the gameplay. While some may argue that cut scenes take away from the experience, it’s a welcome break once in a while to sit back and watch the action unfold. It is, after all, a game based on a movie.
Quantum of Solace isn’t particularly difficult, but it can get frustrating. When out of cover, it seems that enemies rarely miss. Bond’s health replenishes on its own so there is no need for health packs. However, if you stand out in harm’s way a few seconds longer than you should, it’s lights out — back to a checkpoint. It seems that snipers are decidedly deadlier in this title, as well, but luckily they use laser sights so it isn’t that enormous of an endeavor to go after them.
The graphics aren’t excellent, but then again they aren’t an abomination, either. Daniel Craig’s likeness is portrayed extremely well, as are the main villains and important characters, but environments and level designs didn’t seem as lively as they should have been. However, animations, scenes, and the interactive fights were a treat to behold. As for sound, the characters are all voiced by the authentic voice actors, which was shocking. Previous games rarely implemented accurate likenesses or voices. The famous Bond theme is intact throughout, and music swells when something has been accomplished or when danger is brewing. It’s entertaining, and fits well.
Playing through the single-player campaign will take at least 7 or 8 hours to complete, which is painfully short. However, there’s only so much they could do with a two-hour movie, and what they have is stretching it as it is. At least when the single-player game is over, what’s left is some engaging multiplayer modes with several nods to Call of Duty. Still, there is a dearth of people actually playing the game since Gears of War 2, Left 4 Dead, Resistance 2, and Call of Duty: World at War have all been recently released. If you can find people online to play with, though, it’s actually quite enjoyable.
While many will steer clear of Quantum of Solace simply because it comes from Treyarch and/or it’s a movie game, what’s presented is a good, solid FPS with thematic third-person elements. Though it is indeed flawed and could be easily written off as a Call of Duty clone, it’s closed-minded to say that about an FPS that borrows from many other games as well. Not every video game released needs to be a classic in order to please the people who buy them. If you’re looking for a break from locusts, zombies, or zombie Nazis, then give Quantum of Solace a try. While you’re at it, check the movie out as well.