Over the past ten years, Agent 007 has been just as prolific in the gaming realm as he has been on the silver screen. With his penchant for weapons, exotic cars, and iconic locations, it’s easy to see how the James Bond character is well suited for gaming. However, attempts to recreate the 007 experience have ranged wildly over the years, from the high point of 1997’s Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64, to the desperate lows of 2004’s Goldeneye: Rogue Agent.
Recent attempts by Electronic Arts to capture the essence of Bond in the forms of Everything or Nothing and From Russia With Love have been competent, but not brilliant. This year, Activision acquired the 007 license and created the first now-gen Bond title using the Call of Duty 4 engine. Although it’s a fairly linear affair, it’s capable gameplay and excellent production values make this a solid choice for the James Bond fan.
These ‘gentlemen’ are about to meet the business end of an Heckler and Kock MP5
Quantum of Solace opens in the gardens of villain Mr. White’s European villa. Players are introduced to the basic mechanics of the game; the X button takes cover behind an object, while L1 looks down the line of sight, and R1 fires. Players can either pop out of cover to drop the numerous antagonists, or make use of the extremely accurate blind fire. Some might question the ease of Bond’s non-sighted targeting, but I found it added to the thrill of controlling MI-6’s top agent.
As the player vaults from one covered position to the next, I found the gameplay to be very reminiscent of the tactical combat displayed in Rainbow Six: Vegas. While Quantum is heavily scripted and predominantly linear, its enemy AI makes firefights intense and engrossing. Occasionally, enemies will attempt to flank the player, although their primary modus operandi is to take cover and fire at regular intervals. We only came across a few instances where our covered position wouldn’t let us return fire- for the most part the system worked remarkably well. When not attacking the foes with ballistics, Bond can also engage enemies by sneaking up behind them and pressing R3 to initiate a quick time event. Forced stealth bits are also incorporated, but they are thankfully both short and mildly gratifying.
A typical day at the office for our man, James.
Although the title is based on the Call of Duty 4 engine, the title looks and plays like a direct descendant of the Rainbow Six linage. Instead on displaying the intricate textures found in Infinity Ward’s hallmark shooter, Quantum opts for a flatter look, albeit with a greater amount of on-screen geometry. While the framerate may not feel as buttery-slick as the 60 fps found in COD4, it’s typically steady at 30 frames per second. It’s clear that the developers wanted the explosions in QoS to feel as big as their cinematic counterparts- but large blasts often shake the screen in a violent, disorienting manner.
Developer Treyarch did an exceptional job of capturing the sound, look and feel of the film. From the solid voice acting work performed by Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Eve Green and Olga Kurylenko to the excellent sound work, QoS delivers. Helicopters roar believably, and a ring of a cell phone was captured so well, I paused the game, thinking it was an actual phone ringing. Even the mission debriefing cutscenes that play between levels are an excellent reproduction of a high-tech interface shown in the film.
You’ve got something on your back, Tango. Let me take care of that for you.
Beyond the fourteen level single player campaign, players have a wealth of multiplayer options. Bond Evasion casts a random player as 007, while others are split between two teams- MI-6 agents protecting the spy, and Organization operatives out to kill him. Bond Versus gives everyone a chance at playing 007, while the others prohibit the agent from disarming a set of explosives. In the Golden Gun mode player vie for the opportunity to use the famous ‘one-shot, one-kill’ weapon. Between these unique game types, the now requisite conflict, classic, team conflict, and territory control options exist.
Just as Casino Royale rejuvenated the aging 007 film franchise, Quantum of Solace marks a triumphant return to form for the game series. Developer Treyarch has created a rare entity, a licensed game that truly captures the atmosphere and allure of the film. From the game’s Bond-worthy title sequence to the marquee voice talent and solid gameplay mechanics, Quantum is the best Bond game in years.
Good: Solid FPS, with a ton of multiplayer options, a better title song than that Jack White/Alicia Keys caterwauling.
Bad: The occasional pacifistic Bond, who refuses to shoot when behind cover.
Ugly: Explosions that shake the whole screen like an old episode of Star Trek.