Quantum of Solace (PC)
The women. The cars. The guns. The villains. Thanks to Activision, Beenox and Treyarch, James Bond is giving gamers back their license to kill in his latest videogame to film adaptation, Quantum of Solace. The question is, can the impeccable MI6 agent strike a chord with fans once again, or should the license be terminated with extreme prejudice?
Let me get one thing out of the way for all of you hardcore gamers. Quantum of Solace is not GoldenEye 007. I know that's a hard pill to swallow, and likely a few of you stopped reading this review as soon as you saw that sentence. I don't know how to break it to you guys, but GoldenEye is over a decade old. In Quantum of Solace, we've got a new Bond, new technology and a new game that's, on the whole, the best Bond title to come along since the Nintendo 64 classic.
Beenox and Treyarch took the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare engine, tossed in a generous portion of "Casino Royale" and "Quantum of Solace," added a dash of gameplay tweaks, and served it all up to fans shaken ? not stirred. This makes Quantum of Solace feel like some sort of custom CoD4 mod, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Essentially, the game plays exactly like CoD4, only with a more 007 arsenal.
Adding to the experience (and to show off Daniel Craig's virtual form), Quantum of Solace incorporates a cover system for stealth and cover. Bond can run up to nearby walls, columns, etc. and duck for cover with a quick press of the "E" key. It works pretty well, and it certainly saved this agent's ass on more than one occasion. The only problem I had with the cover system is that it felt a bit overused. I get it: This is James Bond, not Rambo. He's not going to go charging in guns blazing all the time. But in terms of gameplay, the cover system wore a bit thin in certain stages where I was forced to trade shots with an enemy from behind cover every few steps. I couldn't help feeling like I was crawling along at a snail's pace.
The cover mechanic isn't the only way that Quantum of Solace tries to separate itself from its Call of Duty roots. The game includes a number of different mini-games scattered throughout Bond's adventures. Some, like the hacking mini-game, require the player to copy a sequence of keystrokes in a manner akin to the old Simon Says games, while others require the player to carefully position an on-screen cue to keep Bond balanced like a tightrope walker. Most frequent, though, are the numerous context-sensitive button-mashing mini-games, as seen in games such as God of Warand Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Conspiracy and, well, Call of Duty 4. During these takedown encounters, Bond can go mano-a-mano with an enemy within arms' reach. The game then switches to an interactive cut scene, in which players have to match on-screen prompts in order to put down a foe without firing a shot. Like the cover, it's a cool mechanic that feels a bit overused in some places.
Although Bond is usually a loner, Quantum of Solace offers up a decent helping of 007-themed multiplayer games. One mode gives each team a special VIP target who must survive longer than the opposition's VIP. In another, one team must find and defuse bombs placed by its opponents. And then, there's the return of the Golden Gun. One player is gifted with Scaramanga's golden firearm, earning points with its one-shot kills. The other players try to gain control of the Golden Gun by taking out the agent armed with it. Online games ran fairly smoothly for me, though there was some noticeable lag during some matches. Whether this was an issue with the game itself, or just a few players with bad connections, is hard to tell.
You'd be hard pressed to find any faults with Quantum of Solace's presentation. Visually, the game is pretty impressive. Bond's character model is an exact likeness of Daniel Craig's 007, as are those of the other characters from the films. All of the models move fluidly, as opposed to the stiff mannequin-like models of many first-person shooters. And many of the environments look like they could have been pulled straight from the films. Depending on the strength of your graphics card, the visuals on the PC version are sharper, cleaner and simply better than in either of the console releases of the game. Add to this the phenomenal voice acting from all the principal actors and a score worthy of the big screen, and you've got a truly cinematic experience.
Just like the two Bond films it's based on, Quantum of Solace isn't perfect, but it's the shot in the arm the franchise has needed for some time. If you're a fan of 007, you won't be disappointed in this first-person shooter. And even if you're not a James Bond wannabe, you should still find enough in the game to warrant checking it out. If nothing else, the development team has laid a solid foundation for future appearances from Ian Fleming's superspy.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.