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Nov 20, 2008

Review: James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace

James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace
Activision, Treyarch
Available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS & Playstation 2

I honestly feel sorry for the developers of James Bond video games. Past and present they have all tried to live up to the legacy of developer Rare’s 1997 GoldenEye for the Nintendo 64 which was not only the best Bond game ever but one of the greatest games of all time. EA tried for years to make as good a game coming close with their best effort in 2004’s Everything or Nothing but eventually gave up after several critically panned titles, relinquished the license to kill to Activision. They in turn tapped developer Treyarch to make the first 007 game for current generation systems to try and breathe life back into the franchise. The result is the newest 007 game, Quantum of Solace.

In Quantum of Solace you play the part of super suave secret agent 007 James Bond, the game is played mostly in first person perspective but occasionally jumps to third person allowing players to see real life Bond actor Daniel Craig who lends his likeness and voice to the game. It is mainly a first person shooter based on the successful engine of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Quantum uses the engine well and adds a cover system similar to Gears of War allowing players to dive behind cover during firefights.

The game’s plot combines the storylines of the current movie of the same name and the previous movie Casino Royale. Unfortunately the plots of both movies are not told well, especially Quantum’s which is interrupted part way through to have you flashback and play through the main highlights from Casino Royale. By the time you return to Quantum’s storyline you’ve forgotten about what was even going on. In between all the levels of shootouts much of the storyline is told through boring and incoherent cut scenes that feel completely detached. In fact it seems like the game was originally designed with the Casino Royale plot as the main focus with the Quantum of Solace plot parts tacked on later to cash in on the movie’s concurrent release.

In most of the game’s levels you’ll be told stealth movements such as avoiding cameras and using silenced weapons are the best approach to mission success but no matter how careful you move inevitably you’ll find yourself in a firefight with multiple converging enemies. While the AI does a good job of flanking you, its movements are repetitive and predictable. The game features a variety of typical weapons for gunplay but Bond can also perform up close takedowns that are too easy to accomplish and feature the same animation over and over again. It also wouldn’t be a Bond game without the prerequisite exploding containers such as barrels and fire extinguishers for you to shoot, in Quantum of Solace they are everywhere and out of place.

Quantum of Solace claims to provide the player with the experience of being Bond but in most of the game’s exciting situations such as chase sequences or boss battles (if you can call them that) it simply gives you too little to do but press a button and watch a cut scene play out. You wish you were more involved in what is happening. The third person perspective of watching Bond sneak around window ledges avoiding enemies gets old by the third time around and the lock picking mini game is simply unoriginal and too simple.

Aesthetically Quantum of Solace is also uninspired, at times I honestly felt like I was playing a last generation game on my Xbox 360. The environments and audio could have used some polishing though there were some nice lighting effects The waves of enemies all look the same, act the same and die the same and with all the exploding containers lying around haphazardly you’d think the developers would have designed better explosion animations.

Quantum’s multiplayer offers the standards with Bond themed versions. One includes a mode where everyone is playing as Organization members with one Bond on the map, basically everyone gangs up on Bond. Whichever game designer thought 6 against 1 would be a fun scenario should be fired. The classic Golden Gun mode makes a reappearance and then there is another mode where two teams each have a Bond VIP that must stay alive. For the most part the multiplayer just felt like a stripped down version of Call of Duty with less interesting maps.

Quantum of Solace falls short as not only an interesting shooter compared to what else is available this season but also as a fun James Bond video game. The main storyline is short and can be completed within four or five hours and with a lackluster multiplayer experience even the biggest Bond buffs should make this game a rental.

Rating: 6 out of 10
Rent it!

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