His name is Bond, James Bond. In Quantum of Solace, he’s back again for another movie and the inevitable video game tie-in that goes with it. This latest round of saving the known world — in the videogame, that is — is a fun ride, but it’s one that only lasts for a short time.
In Quantum of Solace, you’ll play as the one and only 007, James Bond. The story of the Quantum of Solace game is sort of a blend between the Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace movies. Unforeseen events during a mission cause Bond to reminisce on his previous adventures. The story doesn’t get too confusing, as there are only two jumps in time. One jump back to the past, with a Casino Royale adventure, then Bond remembers he’s on kind of an important mission, and you finish the Quantum business in the present. Throughout the story you’ll kill many henchmen, as well as a boss or two. There’s never a quiet moment when you have a license to kill.
The gameplay tries to think outside the shooter box and includes both first- and third-person viewpoints. You play in first person while running or crawling around the environment, and in third person while hiding in cover, using melee attacks, fighting bosses, brushing your teeth and jumping on buildings. Basically, this is a third-person game with a bit of first-person between cover. And you will always be in cover. Even on the easier difficulties, Bond isn’t a bullet sponge. So, shooting in first-person is risky and just not worth it most of the time.
The game definitely has the old Bond feel. Enemies know they are in an action movie. They roll, flip and jump around while searching for cover. Killing them awards you with a satisfyingly over-the-top death. They’ll either back flip in recoil, grab for the heavens as they fall, or do a somersault off a roof. Regardless of their fate, it’s always cool to watch. The best “Bond moments” occur when a group of enemies are hiding near an explosive object. Shooting the object will cause a slow-motion shot of the enemies being launched while the theme song plays. The game never overuses the theme song and only resorts to it in incredibly action-packed scenarios.
After you get best the looks, though, the adventure loses some of the thrills. Bond only uses cool gadgets during cut scenes, leaving you with just the use of gunplay and grenades. Additionally, every boss is just “Some Guy,” although this is mostly due to the realistic direction the series has been taking lately. Don’t expect any Goldfingers or Oddjobs. Half the bosses are done in the form of everyone’s favorite quick-time button presses, and although the sequences that follow these are cool, you don’t feel like you’re contributing to it all. You’re just pressing whatever button the game tells you to while Bond does all the cool stuff.
The henchmen don’t fare any better. They are pretty good at flanking you, which you will especially notice on the 007 difficulty. Beyond this, though, they reach new levels of stupid. They frequently stand right in front of explosives and electric boxes. If you outsmart their flanking strategy by hiding in a corner or a room with one exit, they resort to the Lemming Strategy. They’ll abandon cover and charge at you. They might as well just wave “Please Kill Me” signs while they are at it. Overall, the game doesn’t offer much in terms of challenge. Playing on 007 difficulty, enemy frags won’t kill you even at point blank range and blind fire from cover is surprisingly accurate. If you do run into trouble, there are plenty of checkpoints and super weapons spread out along the way to give you that extra boost.
Things become much more difficulty when playing online. The game uses a store system where you buy new weapons using money from wins or loses. Of course, this means your opponents will have weapons that are much better than yours most of the time. The only way to level the playing field is to spend consolation prize money on new upgrades. Expect to die frequently and lose a lot until you get that shotgun with a silencer, scope, laser aim, double damage, and double ammo. Playing online may prove too hard for most, while playing offline is on the easy side. There really is no middle ground, so it comes down to bullying fake people or being bullied by real ones.
No matter which side you choose, though, Quantum of Solace is mostly fun, but it suffers from some annoying AI and “by the numbers” gameplay, and it’s far too short to recommend as anything but a rental.
- Score: 7.5
— John Dempsey