Quantum of Solace (Wii)
It's not for nothing that this new James Bond game is, for the most part, a first-person shooter. The good memories of 1997's GoldenEye 007 -- an FPS on the Nintendo 64, which was based on the movie of the same name -- are still fresh in gamers' minds, as evidenced by the hubbub earlier this year when rumors circulated that it might be re-released. But while Quantum of Solace isn't GoldenEye, it's not all that bad, either.
Despite what the name suggests, Solace is actually based both on the new Bond film and the previous one, 2006's "Casino Royale." But the game doesn't just cover the action scenes of the two films; it expands upon them, making the gunfights bigger and longer.
For most of these scenes, the game is a cover-based first-person shooter, as you can run and gun if you like, or you can duck behind a barrier ? la Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Vegas or Brothers In Arms: Hell's Highway, with the perspective changing to the third-person. However, you'll actually do more of the latter, since -- as with so many first-person shooters on the Nintendo Wii -- trying to aim accurately in a frantic gunfight is about as easy as hitting a thermal exhaust port two meters wide without a targeting computer: It's not impossible, just really rough.
It does help that the cover mechanic works better here than it did in Brothers. And that you automatically lock on to enemies when you're pointed in their general direction and hit the Z button for iron sights. And that your health regenerates over time. And that Bond's enemies aren't crack shots like the Germans in Brothers.
Solace also changes up the first-person shooter motif by including some third-person mechanics. Not only does the game change perspective in certain situations, such as when you're jumping from rooftop to rooftop, it also makes the switch when you perform an optional melee attack, like sneaking up behind someone to bonk them on the head. But this mechanic, which involves swinging the Nunchuk and then hitting a specific button before time runs out, just doesn't work as well as just pumpin' the guy full of lead -- especially since, if you don't do it right, they'll pump you full of lead.
Solace also changes things up by including multiplayer, both online and offline, a rarity among movie-inspired games. The game boasts variations on "Deathmatch" and "Team Deathmatch," here called "Conflict: Free For All" and "Conflict: Team," as well as an objective-based mode, dubbed "Rush" (solo) and "Team Rush" (group). It's best to stick with plain deathmatch, though, as the game's controls make it hard enough to hit people; adding more to do just complicates matters unnecessarily.
The multiplayer matches are more fun when played split-screen, though this results in a smaller viewing area, and the lack of voice chat on the Wii (well, until everyone gets that mic with Animal Crossing: City Folk) means you can't make bad Bond jokes if you're playing online.
It should also be noted that while the graphics in Solace are good -- well, not Resident Evil 4-good, but still somewhat impressive for the system -- the game deserves more praise for what they visualize. Solace has many more, and more varied, environments than a typical first-person shooter, as well as a wider and brighter color palette than most (save Metroid Prime 3: Corruption), which really makes them pop.
None of this is meant to imply that Solace is, by any stretch of the imagination, a great first-person shooter. It's not without its problems. For starters, the same command to reload, shaking the Nunchuk, also tosses grenades. As someone who reloads incessantly, this was a life-threatening problem, since it caused me to toss a grenade at some rather inopportune moments -- like when I was standing near a wall.
The bigger problem is that Bond is facing even stiffer competition than if the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, Coast Guard, Right Guard and Point Guard for the Detroit Pistols, Allen Iverson, got together to take him out. Well, okay, just Call of Duty: World at War on the Wii -- but if you have any other system, Resistance 2 on the PlayStation 3 and Gears of War 2 on the Xbox 360 are far better shooters. Even Solace is better on those systems -- which basically means this version is pretty much just for shooter and Bond fans who, for some odd reason, only own a Wii.
This review was based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.