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James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace Review

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Developer: Treyarch Publisher: Activision
Release Date: November 4, 2008 Also On: PS3, Wii and Xbox 360

It’s been nearly five years since the last Bond game was released and it’s been since 1999’s The World is Not Enough that one has been based on a movie (ed. forgive me for forgetting 2005’s From Russia with Love video game). In that time a new actor has been cast as Bond, ending the Pierce Brosnan era. As well as having a new Bond (Daniel Craig), the team making the games has also changed. EA let the franchise go and Activision has picked it up. They’ve tasked developing Quantum of Solace to Treyarch, the studio behind Call of Duty: World at War. While the franchise has been reset in both film and game, the result is mixed at best.

Now let me say that I am a huge Bond fan. I own all of the movies on DVD, I own most of the games and I went to the midnight showing of Quantum of Solace. After having a successful start, Daniel Craig’s second Bond movie failed to live up to the hype. I can safely say that I came out of the theater wanting more. The game is really no different. The only redeeming value are the levels brought over from Casino Royale.

The single player experience in Quantum of Solace the game is only about six hours long (more or less depending on the difficulty you choose). It starts off where Casino Royale left off at Mr. White’s mansion. Much of the game spends time building plot in between scenes in the movies. Other times it will take a scene from the two movies with an alternate plot to what actually happened. I guess you could make the argument that it attempts to better fit the story with the gameplay, but those looking for an authentic recreation will be somewhat disappointed with this game.

The actual action is done relatively well, at least in certain levels. The people in charge of the Bond franchise have not known where to go ever since the enormously successful GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64. Treyarch is really no different as they aren’t even sure what type of game they want to be. They made use of a first and third person approach to the game, a first in a Bond game. While you can play much of Quantum of Solace as a straight up first person shooter, your better bet for success is to make use of the cover system that they give you. So while you run around in first person, pressing X near a wall will switch you to third person and give you cover. From here a reticule will show up allowing you to more precisely target your enemies or blind fire. It’s a lot like Everything or Nothing, except with action sequences where you press corresponding on-screen buttons.

The level design in Quantum of Solace is where Treyarch needed a lot of help. The third person element could have been used here to open up the possibility for further exploration instead of just making a better form of cover from fire. Instead the game is entirely linear in its approach. There really is only one way to go or approach a situation with triggered scenes and spawn points for enemies. If you are going to give me third person capabilities, I want to be able to come at the game from multiple angles and be able to replay it with different results.

As far as AI goes, they can be somewhat intelligent, but rely on numbers more than anything. The damage system in place does not allow you to take many hits and can be unrelenting at times. This is not a run-and-gun Bond game. Using cover is critical to your success. Avoiding cameras and disabling them is also a must. That said, you seem to be penalized all too quickly for attempting to take a silent approach. If you try to sneak up on one of the guards and they notice you, there is no grace period where they have to call in their allies. The reinforcements will immediately appear and you will have to contend with them. This just seems counterintuitive.

As I said earlier, the storyline is changed up a bit from the actual movies. This doesn’t bother me so much as there is a lack of consistency and flow throughout the entire game. You start off playing where Casino Royale ends and Quantum of Solace begins, play a few Quantum levels and then find yourself back in Casino Royale. Before you know it the game ends with the last main scene from Quantum of Solace. It’s all a jumbled mess from the start with a lack of full action cutscenes replaced with radio blather between M, her assistants and Bond.

As far as multi-player is concerned, you have a decent amount of options here. Aside from your traditional Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch styled modes, but they seem to be emphasizing this idea of team-based gameplay. Case in point, there are two modes involving “the Organization” and then Bond. One of them everyone tries to kill Bond, except the one person who plays as him. The other is a sort of VIP mode where it will have you escorting Bond to an extraction point while the other team will try to kill him. If you like classic style gameplay, they have a mode where you start off with one weapon and have to pick up stronger weapons at designated spots around the map. Finally, there’s the Golden Gun mode, always a favorite of fans.

With all of the great games coming out this holiday, it’s hard to imagine how Quantum of Solace can compete. I came away just as disappointed as I did with the movie. There was a lot of potential here that wasn’t realized. I can’t help but feel that they meant to make a Casino Royale game (about 75 percent of the levels are based on it) and Quantum of Solace tagged along for the ride. Treyarch is a talented studio having put out a number of fantastic Call of Duty games. If anyone can put together a decent Bond shooter, it’s them. Quantum of Solace is not the game that does that. Maybe next time.

Graphics: 6.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 6.5
Final: 7
Written by Kyle Review Guide