Quantum of Solace ReviewMatt Andrews
James Bond movies created half of the action movie clichs in existence today, and theyve been cashing in on them ever since. The series video game counterparts have tried to cash in on those same stories and action with varying levels of success. 007 Quantum of Solace for the Xbox 360 takes its turn promising to have all the Bond action we know and love, and streamlined mechanics to go with it.
007 Quantum of Solace introduces a new spin on the Bond game, complementing all of the first person shooting with a third person cover system. These core game play mechanics will be the heart and soul of Quantum of Solace and perform well, but seem a little bland. The first person shooting aiming and movements are about as simple as video games get. Bond runs with a slightly unrealistic rhythm, and hip fires, aims, reloads and switches weapons just like every other first person shooter ever.
The third person cover aspect of game play performs relatively well, but is visually awkward. The system is simple, allowing you to hide behind and move between all sorts of cover with just one button. You will encounter the unfortunate glitch on occasion. While mechanical glitches dont detract from the game very often or severely, they do add to the unrefined feeling that the game carries. There is nothing here that we havent seen before, and Quantum of Solace falls a bit short of a similar system in Gears of War both mechanically and aesthetically. The frequently awkward appearance and occasional hiccup leave the controls and core mechanics of 007 Quantum of Solace feeling very average and mediocre by todays standards though they are an improvement on past Bond games.
The luster that the game lacks in its mechanics is no indication of its visual performance. Bond looks pretty good, probably the best he has in a video game yet. Environments are detailed, well textured, and include some creative locations. An opera house, a museum, construction sites, and that great parkour chase scene that everyone loved are all included, and they all look great. The locales were clearly designed to facilitate the new cover system, as youll notice countless objects to hide behind. Some objects dont seem to make any real-life sense at all, existing solely for your hiding pleasure, and detracting from an otherwise very visually attractive game. In terms of overall appearance, Quantum of Solace is the best looking Bond game to date.
The problem with Quantum of Solace is what I like to call the Bond factor, and the problem is that the game is lacking it. When I say Bond factor Im referring to the car, the gadgets, the women, and those moments of greatness that only Bond could pull off; everything that sets a Bond movie and a Bond game apart from any old shooter. Now, the Bond factor was scaled back a bit in the recent movies in an attempt to modernize the series, and this scaling back is definitely paralleled in Quantum of Solace the game. Each level has one opportunity (which you can make yourself aware of by glancing at the Xbox Live achievement to go with it) to pull off what used to be called a Bond move. Even if you take the initiative to go for it, it doesnt have the gratifying effect that came with those instinctive split second decisions that NightFire did so well. What developers did include were way too many obviously placed explosive drums, especially in places where explosive materials dont belong, and would never be found. I hope you love exploding henchmen, because thats really about as exciting as it gets.
This brings us to two downfalls of the game to touch on. Explosions and henchmen. Explosions are the big zit on the otherwise beautiful face that Quantum of Solace presents. There are so many opportunities to blow things up, they could have at least made them look decent. And lastly, if explosions are the zit, then the henchmen are like a hairy mole. It is hard to find two enemies in a level who dont look identical, let alone impressively rendered at all. Their faces, heights, weights, actions and clothes all look the same. If you lined four or five of these identical enemies up and threw a grenade in their direction, it is likely that they would all make the same exact movement in the same direction simultaneously. The point being that they are so generic it is sickening, and the artificial intelligence is heavy on the artificial, and light on the intelligence.
It is pretty safe to assume everyone will be disappointed by the length of the game. Developers seemed to pull bits and pieces of both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace which makes for a slightly confusing series of events and storyline. You would think there is plenty of material form two movies to make a nice long game, but Quantum of Solace is one of the shortest Bond Games ever on top of its mediocrity in other facets. As a whole, the single player campaign could be a considered decent plain-Jane first person shooter. Gamers will be mildly entertained, fans of the series a little more so. We expect a little more excitement from a James Bond game though, and Quantum of Solace did not deliver.
Fortunately, multiplayer is a little bit of a plus for the game. Now, it must be understood that a James Bond game will never compete with the titans of multiplayer (namely the Halo and Call of Duty games). For anyone who has played a 007 game before, there is some strange, difficult to identify appeal to the multiplayer. Maybe its the fact that you can spawn in one game with a modest pistol and the next with a grenade launcher, or the interesting game types offered, but there has always been a unique appeal to the multiplayer of the 007 series. Quantum of Solace captures most of that familiar allure, but now with much improved mechanics (which feel like a Modern Warfare BioShock hybrid), making it one of the most enjoyable multiplayer experiences that a James Bond game has ever offered. For me, James Bond multiplayer has always been a split screen or system link experience rooted in GoldenEye for the Nintendo 64. Quantum of Solace offers online play, but it really doesnt hold a candle to most other online games, and if online play is your desire, it will be better fulfilled elsewhere.
Ok, time to recap. Single player has good mechanics, but a strange (for lack of a better word) and very short story, that fails to capture that true James Bond experience and feel. Multiplayer has everything we loved about the vintage Bond games, with new and improved mechanics, but falls short of the top tier online multiplayer games. As a package, there are no glaring mistakes, and nothing to hate, but 007 Quantum of Solace is a mediocre game at best.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.