Quantum of SolaceESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: First Person Shooter
1 Player (Offline)
2-12 Players (System Link)
2-12 Players (Online)
1.5 MB to Save Game
HDTV Output: 720p/1080i/1080p
As I write this review the next James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, is set to hit theaters about 24 hours or so. Having grown up watching Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton, Roger Moore, Pierce Bronson, and now Daniel Craig all play the famed British agent, I am looking forward to seeing what the newest movie has to offer. Activision has recently released a game licensed upon Quantum of Solace and it goes by the exact same name. Being that many games licensed on blockbuster movies usually don’t deliver, I was somewhat nervous as I didn’t want to see James Bond’s reputation soiled on the current generation of consoles. However, after sitting down and playing the Xbox 360 version of Quantum of Solace I would have to say that my worries have been swept aside. Although not the best title to hit the market this holiday season Quantum of Solace is a solid game that many 007 fans should be pleasantly surprised with.
Visually speaking I thought that Quantum of Solace was solid looking. Utilizing the Call of Duty 4 (COD4) graphics engine, Treyarch was able to bring the world of James Bond alive in a pretty convincing manner. From the Bond himself to the locales he visits, the graphics compliment the work that went into the game.
Daniel Craig’s is the new and improved James Bond, and his likeness in the game very well recreated. He definitely looks like the James Bond that was in Casino Royale, as well as the one that is on the cover the game he represents. He animates fluidly too and when you see him in third person you get that feeling you are actually watching a James Bond movie. In terms of the rest of the characters, the various enemies you come across seem to be pretty generic. Don’t get me wrong, they look good, but their diversity is not as large as I had hoped given you fly all over the globe as you make your way through the game’s missions. As well, the animations for each are pretty standard too, even though they look good in motion. I guess at the end of the day more variety in Bond’s enemies would have been better, but what is there still looks and moves pretty well, but it is the repetitive feature that I don’t like.
In terms of the games environments, they really seem to immerse you into the world of 007. From a rainy night in Miami to the underground, alleyways and rooftops of Venice, all the locales that the game takes place are beautifully rendered. Treyarch managed to make use of the tools at hand when crafting the world of Quantum of Solace. Ample use of lighting, shadowing, and cool water effects are evident in the many levels that you visit. I am sure that they could have opted to cheap out and repeat a lot of the levels and their graphics and texture work, but they did not. Each level has a look and feel all of its own.
As this is a first person shooter weapons are the key here, and all the available weapons look first-rate. From an MI6 agent’s trustworthy PPK to the various semi-automatic, automatic, sniper and explosive weapons found, each has a look all its own and this adds a bit more authenticity to the game.
The audio in Quantum of Solace is arguably one of the strong points in the game. Treyarch made sure it stayed true to the James Bond license as they took the time and effort to utilize the actual actors from the movie. Included in this long list of actors is Daniel Craig (James Bond), Judy Dench (M), Mathieu Amalric (Dominic Green), Olga Kurylenko (Camille – 007’s leading lady this time around), Eva Green (Vesper Lynd) and Mads Mikkelsen (Le Chiffre). The dialog that has been recorded is found in the cut-scenes, MI6 briefings in between levels, as well as in-game chatter during play. I don’t know how the actual actors found time to do this, or how much it cost Activision to fund this task, but to incorporate this level of authenticity not only brought the game to life, but made it even more real.
As for the music, it is what you would expect from not only a James Bond game, but a James Bond movie. After the opening level, which is a tutorial so to speak, you are treated to a traditional James Bond opening with the familiar gunshot at the screen, the camera iris like logo of 007, and a flashy theme song with some funky action too. I was not sure where this theme song originated, but after a quick call to one of the PR reps at Activison I learned that the song was created specifically for the game. This was pretty impressive as the song really did suit the theme of the introduction and it matched the whole 007 style that so many previous movie intros have done before.
Finally, what would a first person shooter, let alone a 007 first person shooter, be without sound effects? Well let me tell you, Quantum of Solace has lots of sounds to fill any type of speaker set-up, from your standard TV speakers to a full Dolby Digital surround sound system. The weapon sounds are what you should hope for from a game that is based on the COD4 graphics engine. Each gun manages to sound very distinct, with varying sound for each one too. Even when each one is silenced you will notice an audio difference. Of course the rest of the sound effects package is solid too from the explosions, enemy fire, or breaking glass to the environmental sounds like water fountains spraying, rain falling or cars driving by. All in the entire audio package is well rounded and helps to pull you deeper into the world of 007.
Quantum of Solace, the game, takes place immediately following the ending of the movie Casino Royale. Actually, the game starts out with a cut-scene portraying the last few minutes of Casino Royale and then starts the game’s story from where the movie left off. Being that I have watched my Blu-ray version of Casino Royale more then a few times, I was quite surprised how Treyarch managed to pull you into the end of one story and then to the start of the new one all using the in-game engine. It was a pretty impressive start to the game indeed.
The story in Quantum of Solace takes you on quite a ride around the globe. Bond is back to avenge the loss of his love, as well as discover more about the secret organization behind the events of Casino Royale. He’ll travel to quite a few different locales in his effort to complete his mission(s). During your gameplay experience the game actually recreates some key events from Casino Royale via flashbacks. This is where one of my biggest complaints arises. Although it was cool to play some of the events from the first movie, many times these events seemed out of place and didn’t help the Quantum of Solace story progress on its own. Sure, being able to relive the foot chase at the start of Casino Royale was pretty cool, but when it was over and I was once again thrust into the story of Quantum of Solace, I really had to think hard to remember where I was and why I was even there. I don’t know if the developers did this just to fill some time, but the way the events from the first movie are intertwined does make for some confusing moments now and then.
As mentioned earlier, Quantum of Solace utilizes the COD4 graphics engine, but Treyarch has added some new gameplay elements to it. First and foremost is a new cover mechanic that pulls back for a third-person view. One of my biggest complaints with Call of Duty 4 was the lack of a cover system, and given that Treyarch has implemented one using the COD4 graphics engine, it gives me some hope. This cover system works quite well. As you view the action from the third-person it adds a new dynamic to the gameplay experience. You can pop in and out of cover quite easily and the enemies are somewhat easier to see in certain environments. Also new is the ability to go from cover to cover with a simple button press. If there is more cover you can either ‘switch’ over the cover beside you or you can ‘dash’ over to a better cover point further away. Both of these are done using the A button and the latter is pretty neat in that you run and slide into the new area you want to shoot from.
Quantum of Solace also provides a lot of segments where stealth can be more efficient then an all out gun fight. This is to be expected too as this game stars one of the world’s most recognizable spies. Along with being able to choose which way you play the game, some of the segments actually require you to sneak around undetected. These stealthy times were pretty enjoyable, and again Treyarch has introduced a new gameplay element for this aspect of the game. Should you sneak up behind an enemy you can press your right analog stick (RS) which brings up a quick cut-scene and you are required to press a button that the game displays. Should press the button quickly enough you will pull of a brutal takedown without as much as a shot fired. These attacks can range from a kick to the back of the knees, a flip over the shoulder, or a quick snap of the enemies neck. You can also do these attacks in the heat of battle as well if you quickly sprint up to an enemy you are fighting. But to do this you have avoid his gunfire as you charge at him, and that is not very stealthy is it?
Something that I was quite surprised to see was ample use of quick-time events. I know that fellow staffer Trevor H is not a big fan of these, and to tell you the truth neither am I. However these events are not too difficult. They range from an all out fight with one of your enemies to that where you attempt to break the code of a computer lock on a door. Fighting requires a series of button presses on the controller. The on-screen indicator will prompt you to press either the A, B, X, or Y button a single time or repeated number of times. When trying to decode a computer lock you are tasked with pressing the d-pad in various directions, but the trick is that the numbers that are brought up are either green or red, with green being the right time to press the d-pad and the red being the wrong time as it is the wrong number. These quick-time events are not as bad as some I have had to do in other games so it not that bothersome to have to do it here.
I actually enjoyed my time with the single player campaign. I found that once I fired the game up I wanted to go continue on to see where the game would take me. Sure, I didn’t enjoy the fact that the story felt a little disjoined with the Casino Royale stuff thrown in, but personally, I wanted to see what locales I would end up in, and how Treyarch turned the movie settings into a virtual playground for me to sneak, shoot, and complete my mission(s) in. I actually felt that I was controlling Bond in his story and not just playing an FPS game. But like a big blockbuster movie this ride doesn’t last as long as I had hoped. Quantum of Solace’s single player campaign will take you anywhere from 4-7 hours max, depending on your own skill level and the difficulty level you play the game on. There is some replay value here though as you can collect secret items. Of course as with any Xbox 360 title there are achievements to be unlocked too. These range from completing specific levels, completing specific tasks within levels, to finding specific items in the game. Interestingly enough a lot of these achievements are named after previous James Bond movies and that is a neat little tribute to movies of the past.
Although the single player campaign is over sooner then you wish, Quantum of Solace also offers up a pretty robust multiplayer experience. Along with the usual offering of online modes, Treyarch has made sure to include some very Bond specific ones. These are as follows:
- Bond Versus – One player plays as Bond while the rest play as the Organization. Bond is a one-man army sent in to disarm explosives and eliminate the Organization. The Organization tries to protect the explosives at all costs. Bond wins if he can disarm the explosives or eliminate all Organization members. The Organization wins if Bond is killed. Every player gets a chance to play as Bond; the player with the most points wins the match.
- Bond Evasion – One player plays as Bond while the rest of the players are split into MI-6 or the Organization teams. MI-6 players must protect Bond as he tries to make it to the escape zone. If Bond successfully escapes then MI-6 wins, if Bond is killed then the Organization wins. One player is randomly chosen as Bond each time a match begins.
- Golden Gun – All players try to gain possession of the Golden Gun. The Golden Gun is a one-hit kill weapon, making it difficult to pry it away from the user. Pay attention to the Golden Gun icon in your map to pinpoint its location. Only Golden Gun kills will count in this mode.
Treyarch has also included a good number of levels to play these multiplayer modes on. There are a total of 12 multiplayer maps right out of the box, and all of these are based on levels from the game but were areas you could not actually explore during the single player campaign. The multiplayer mayhem can take place on one of the following 12 levels:
- Barge – The Barge has two levels: the upper and lower decks. The narrow ship design is perfect for Golden Gun or Bond Evasion.
- Construction Site – This level features multiple floors, perfect those who like climb towers and snipe. The large and spread-out design of this level is best suited for larger gatherings, like Team Conflict and Territory Control.
- Dock – There are lots of nooks and crannies and places to hide here. The Dock is ideal for Classic and Conflict mode.
- Eco Hotel – Take cover behind the vehicles and watch as mayhem breaks out in the parking lot! This small but open level is ideal for a Golden Gun scramble.
- Embassy – This level features several indoor/outdoor areas, including rooms, balconies, courtyard and rooftops. Good for Bond Evasion or Bond Versus.
- Chemical Plant – The chemical plant has a very old-school Bond feel with its industrial design, making it perfect for Classic mode.
- Italia – With visually pleasing architecture, including balconies and elaborate buildings, Italia brings sophistication to the battle. Note the deterioration of the statues as the shootout intensifies.
- Concourse – The guilty pleasure of an all-out shootout in an airport terminal is hard to resist! How did all those weapons make it past TSA security?
- Rooftop – Lots of cover areas and secret nooks can be found for those who explore.
- Spa – A small area with tight quarters; ideal for a frantic Golden Gun match.
- Science Center – This level shows the Science Center during the day as opposed to the night setting in the Single-Player story.
- Siena – Another level with many nooks and crannies and sniper areas. The large level map makes it best for Conflict and Team Conflict.
Of course playing multiplayer also has other rewards then just killing your enemy. Credits are awarded for not only how well you play, but on how well you contribute to your teams overall performance too. You can acquire new weapons, new gadgets (e.g. scopes, extra ammo capacity) and even acquire gold weapons (you can truly be the man with the golden gun). The reward system is very much like that of the perks in COD4. So this in itself is an addictive aspect of the game too.
Overall my limited time online was pretty smooth, if not familiar. The game ran without a hitch and there were already some very good people showing their mad skills online. My only concern is that the online arena will become less and less populated for Quantum of Solace as the new Call of Duty: World at War (again developed by Treyarch) and Gear of War 2 have both been released into the hands of Xbox 360 owners. I don’t think you will see nearly as many people online as some of the other games, but I am hoping that the 007 diehards will keep on playing this one.
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