On paper it sounds like a bright idea, developer Treyarch making a James Bond game using the Call of Duty 4 engine, until you remember that not since GoldenEye on the N64 has 007 had such a memorable assignment. On the other hand Daniel Craig has reinvented the iconic secret agent, and maybe a grittier, more ruthless Bond will make for a more interesting video game experience. But then you realize the game is called Quantum of Solace because it’s based on said film, as well as Casino Royale, and we all know video games based on movies generally don’t turn out too well. Wait a second. GoldenEye was based on a Bond film. I’m so confused. Let’s just play the game and see which side of the fence Quantum of Solace, the video game, falls.
Quantum of Solace, the video game, picks up immediately following the last frame of Casino Royale, the movie. On his latest assignment, Bond is tasked to stop a member of the Quantum organization who plans to restore an exiled dictator to power in order to stage a coup d’état in Bolivia to take control of its water supply, all while avenging the death of Vesper Lynd, Bonds’ romantic interest from Casino Royale.
A few levels into the game Bond meets Camille Montes, the new female lead who has her own agenda in killing General Medrano. Camille asks Bond why he’s after the same man she is, which cues the flashback to Casino Royale where you’ll get to play through the story of that film as well. The details of each story are only glossed over between missions in high-tech briefings, but fair warning for those who have yet to see either flick that a number of plot spoilers are present.
That being said, only a few levels are based on actual action scenes from their respective movies, like the parkour chase sequence through a construction site in Madagascar, or a scene where you have to guide Bond to his car after he’s been poisoned by Le Chiffre at the poker table. The rest of the levels are fictitiously set in locations introduced in each film, like the science center, Miami airport and barge in Casino Royale, and the opera house and Eco hotel in Quantum of Solace.
Once the memory of Casino Royale catches the story back up with the opening sequence of the game, it’s off to the final level and then you’re done…a little more than four hours later. That’s right, you can finish this game in a little more than the time it would take for you to watch the Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace movies back-to-back; a brisk journey to say the least. On top of that, the game doesn’t so much conclude as it does foretell of another sequel.
Quantum of Solace, the video game, is one part Splinter Cell, one part Bourne Conspiracy and one part…well, just about any shooter on the market. The game emphasizes the use of cover during firefights, at which point the camera shifts from a first- to a third-person perspective, akin to Rainbow Six Vegas. You can shoot over and around cover, or blind fire. By default the game uses an auto-aiming feature to help drive home the point that you’re a lethal secret agent. Some levels stress the use of stealth in order to avoid alerting deadly task squads, so you’ll have to bypass and disable cameras while eliminating enemies quietly, either using a silenced weapon or by sneaking up on them and taking them down physically. Takedowns are quick-time events that require you to press one of the face buttons in a timely manner.
All of the combat and action mechanics are executed well enough but I can’t help but feel that Sam Fisher does stealth action better, Jason Bourne does takedowns/melee combat better, and so you’re left with a shooter that while explosively fast-paced, lacks originality, let alone anything to make it discerningly James Bond. Where are the gadgets, for example? Even tasks, like hacking locks, are decisively easy. Quantum of Solace plays down to a more casual shooter crowd when it should be playing up the world of international espionage.
Multiplayer makes up some for the brief single player campaign. While not quite as in-depth as Call of Duty 4, players do still earn EXP and are able to unlock new weapons and player upgrades. The cover system transfers over to multiplayer so matches are a little more tactical in nature. Most of the multiplayer modes, like the traditional deathmatch, don’t feature Bond as a playable character, though there are some unique modes, like Bond Evasion that pits everyone against 007 in an attempt to hunt him down before he can reach an exit point, that offer interesting counterpoints. And what would a Bond game be without a variation on the Golden Gun from GoldenEye? The Golden Gun mode in Quantum of Solace is an every-man-for-themselves match as players fight for control of a single golden revolver capable of taking players down with a single shot. But with the likes of Gears of War 2, Resistance 2 and Call of Duty: World at War hitting the market at or around the same time as Quantum of Solace, you might have a hard time finding virtual agents online to play against.
Although Quantum of Solace uses the same engine, it’s not nearly as polished as Call of Duty 4. Obviously the art direction is decidedly different, but you can’t help notice that character animations are stiff and the lighting is generally poor. There are some highlights worth mentioning, like the awesome opening movie and the solid character models for Daniel Craig, as James Bond, and the rest of the cast from the films, and the environments are, for the most part, well designed. The soundtrack features, as you’d expect, songs that recall the famous James Bond theme, and the voice cast does a fine job delivering their lines.
Quantum of Solace doesn’t really fall on either side of the fence, instead it just sits on it. It’s not a bad game by any means, but it lacks originality. It borrows elements from games like Splinter Cell, The Bourne Conspiracy, and any game with a cover system, but fails to execute those elements as well. There’s little uniquely Bond about this experience. It’s simply an average shooter at a time when average doesn’t quite cut it. Not with the likes of Far Cry 2, Gears of War 2, Call of Duty: World at War and Resistance 2 on the market. Add in the brief 4-5 hour run time and you have the classic definition of a rental.