Review by Johnus Maximus
Bond is back. Recently released in cinemas, Quantum of Solace is the 22nd Bond film and to coincide with its release you can get this first person shooter which covers the key action from both the new film and the prior release, Casino Royale.
Developed by Treyarch and published by Activision, it is also available for PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, DS and PC. The gritty action style of the new films is represented well in this game, it doesn’t steal the crown from Goldeneye, but it comes pretty damn close.
Videogame adaptations of movies have a poor reputation, usually because they’re not that great – development time is short and the level of co-operation between movie studio and game developer can be slim. Couple that with the fact that almost every Bond game since Goldeneye has failed to live up to the level of adventure and excitement that a brand like 007 embodies and anyone who takes on the mantle of creating a Bond game has their work cut out for them.
With Daniel Craig now playing the role of Bond on screen and a darker, grittier action style to the films, an opportunity has presented itself for a different style of Bond game and that’s exactly what Treyarch have made. Using a modified version of the game engine that the massively successful Call of Duty 4 was built on, Quantum of Solace is an all out action shooter with a cinematic style that complements the reboot of the franchise.
When you first start the game you are asked to adjust a couple of settings – the brightness and the difficulty – and then are immediately thrown into the single player campaign. It immediately starts with the MGM roaring lion and then a brief video of Bond arriving at Mr White’s villa and attempting to apprehend him. As his henchmen arrive you are put into the first person view and begin playing.
The first thing the game teaches you to do is take cover, which is an integral part of survival in this game, as Bond can only take a few bullets before he’s killed (although he can regenerate his health). When you are behind cover, the view moves out to the third person, so you actually get to see Bond, and you can either use the left trigger to pop out and target fire, or if you’re too heavily surrounded just pressing the right trigger will make Bond stick his gun over the wall/crate/bush you’re hiding behind and spray bullets in that general direction.
Use a silenced weapon to give you a stealthy edge
Unlike a lot of games, rather than introduce different gameplay elements progressively as you play through the levels, Quantum of Solace will show you everything you can expect from the game on the first level. You get to use the melee combat, which is like a condensed version of the Bourne game melee. It teaches you how to adjust the firing pattern of your gun from a single shot to three shot burst fire and then fully automatic and also equip silencers, which will allow you to maintain a stealthy approach to the level instead of going in all guns blazing.
The first level also introduces the very limited amount of gadgetry Bond uses – his mobile phone. This multi-function tool offers more than the iPhone App Store possibly could, it allows Bond to hack door locks and security cameras which can give you a better idea of how to approach your objectives. The phone also allows you to get maps of the levels with real-time data as to the movements of your enemies. And like all good games, the obligatory exploding barrels even make it into the first level.
Once you complete the level, Bond has got Mr White into the boot of his car and off he drives, which leads to the opening credits which although not the same as the new film, do look like the title sequence of a Bond movie. The title track by Jack White and Alicia Keys is not included, but instead the titles get a song by Kerli, which I actually prefer.
Fight through the airport to stop the bomber from Casino Royale
Throughout the game you can tell that the utmost has been done to try and provide an exciting gaming experience as well as incorporate the important film plot elements. To do this, Treyarch have their action take place on a slightly alternate timeline to what you see in the films, with small pockets of overlap in both the gameplay and cut scenes. The Casino Royale part of the game is introduced about half way through, in the form of a flashback.
Getting the look of the game to match the films is something that has been done well here, as Treyarch had access to the cast of the two movies to provide not only their physical likeness but also their voices. The locations of the levels look superb, a lot attention to detail has gone into replicating the look of the various sets that appear in the films.
Getting through the single player mode won’t take you too long on one of the two easier skill levels, altogether there are fifteen levels in total to play through and four difficulty settings ranging from super easy to ridiculously hard. I picked the second level of difficulty and was done in about five hours. There are some achievements to be earned by replaying the levels at the higher difficulty, but aside from that and some unlockable de-briefing rooms there’s not a massive amount to bring you back to the single player when you’re finished.
This leads us on to the next and most anticipated aspect of the game – the multiplayer. A maximum of 12 players can take part in several different game types, both on Xbox Live and by System Link. Sadly there is no split screen multiplayer, which is a real shame as having this feature could have definitely turned this game into one of the contenders for what I would consider to be game of the year.
A deathmatch between Quantum terrorists and MI6 agents
The gameplay on multiplayer is fast paced and fits in nicely with the feel of the single player mode. Your character is able to select from a predetermined weapon set that consists of a primary weapon (shotgun/machine gun/rifle), a secondary weapon (pistol/sub machine gun/nail gun), a grenade type (flash/frag/concussion) and two accessories such as body armour and extended ammo). As you play the multiplayer you are awarded ‘credits’ which can be spent upgrading your arsenal, as there is a wide range of weapons which offer better rates of fire or damage than the standard ones.
Being able to switch between your pre-made weapon sets is useful as you may find certain weapons fit certain situations better. The maps have been made pretty well so that although there is plenty of cover available, there are no positions that cannot be flanked in some way. Again, this is a feature that you will notice mirrors the campaign mode. In addition to the traditional solo and team deathmatches and king of the hill style games there are a few more Bond specific modes.
Bond Evasion sees the party being split into two teams, and one player randomly assigned from the MI6 team to be Bond. The MI6 team must escort Bond to an exit point to win the round, and the Quantum players must ensure he is killed. Bond Versus sees one player chosen at random to be Bond and everyone else is a Quantum terrorist. Bond has the upper hand in this game, being able to pick any weapon set and also see the location of the enemies, and once he is dead the role of Bond is given to a different player.
There is also the Golden Gun mode, which is a hectic free for all match where whoever can get hold of the Golden Gun stands a good chance of winning, as each kill is worth more points. No matter which mode you pick though, the games are fairly well balanced and quick enough to get started. It’s a lot of fun trying to build up enough credits to get a gun you like, as if a player you kill has one of them you can pick it up and use it, giving yourself a sneak preview of what you’re saving up for.
A successful melee will instantly kill your foe
As a fan of the latest Bond movies I am extremely impressed with how well represented they are in this game. Yes, it does take a certain amount of creative licensing and deviate slightly from the films, but this has been done in order to give a more exciting experience. It’s been a year since COD4 showed us just how good modern combat shooters can be, and this game sits right up there with the best of them.
If the impending Treyarch title Call of Duty: World at War, which takes a step back to the WWII setting, doesn’t seem like your thing, but you’re looking for a good first/third person shooter then I’d definitely recommend Quantum of Solace. Despite the lack of offline multiplayer it really is an excellent game and a lot of fun to play.
Quantum of Solace scores four and a half diabolical plans for global domination out of five