Quantum of Solace
Has Treyarch handed in a decent Bond game?
360, (All Formats)
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James Bond is pretty good with a gun, it's true, but as far as developers and publishers are concerned he's good for nothing but. From the N64's genre-defining GoldenEye onward the vast majority of Bond games have been first person shooters, with more intellectual aspects of international espionage left to swing in the breeze.
It's only when you revisit some of the earlier films, with their sizzling tension and relative absence of visual bombast, that alternative possibilities present themselves. Bond is often called upon to infiltrate large-scale high-profile functions, for instance - how about a spot of crowd manipulation or exploitation akin to that of Assassin's Creed and the upcoming Splinter Cell: Conviction? Or what about a Bond adventure game, with clues, detective work 'n' the like, or even a few Leisure-Suit-Larry-esque dating subgames? We are, after all, talking about a man renowned for his way with the ladies.
Activision's Quantum of Solace, which launches alongside the sequel to the 2006 blockbuster Casino Royale, takes little interest in these aspects of Bond's heritage, preferring instead to seek intellectual cover behind Gears of War and the developer's own Call of Duty games. Fortunately, Treyarch is a dab hand at this sort of thing, and there's enjoyment enough here to keep you diverted between bouts of Fallout 3.
Quantum of Solace gets going mere seconds after the events of Daniel Craig's last Bond escapade, and roams at whim between the storylines of both films. A sizeable percentage of the film's cast have turned out to voice the game's dialogue, which is nice, but the narrative is otherwise clunky and by-the-numbers. Doubtless there are myriad little nuggets of Bond trivia on offer here for rabid fans, which we aren't. Judi Dench sounds exceedingly awesome though. We wonder what her TrueSkill rank is.
In gameplay terms, anything that isn't immediately apparent to you from the screenshots will have announced itself by half-an-hour in. The key question here is whether you have room in your life for slightly crappier reskins of essentially worthwhile action mechanics. Bond can snap to cover (some of which is destructible) like Marcus Fenix, the camera popping out seamlessly into third person, blind-fire (for the sheer hell of it, generally) and even SWAT-turn between cover points, though he resembles an arthritic disco dancer in the process. Slide to a corner and you can inch out, take aim and rack up the headshots with commendable ease.
When you aren't lurking behind walls, you'll be running around toggling COD4's "iron-sights" precision view with left trigger and QTE-ing people to death in melee combat. Again, Treyarch turns in a solid performance but seldom tickles the imagination. Bond can only carry three types of weapon at once - a primary gun like the AK47, the ubiquitous pistol and something in between - which keeps things reasonably tactical. You can switch hand cannons with the bumper, screw on a silencer with D-pad down and alternate between full auto, burst and single shot fire (depending on the firearm) with D-pad up.