IGN Review of Bond 007: Quantum of Solace
Put a beautiful beau in a hot sports car, toss in a gorgeous babe for him to boink and then prop up a bunch of would-be henchman to stand in between our hero and his goal and you have the recipe for just about every Bond film in history. Of course, with every movie comes a game of the same name and Quantum of Solace is no different. It takes the Call of Duty 4 engine and wraps it around the James Bond universe with a few new trimmings to try and keep the action feeling as fresh as possible.
It's just a bummer that roughly everything that was added in an effort to keep the game feeling fresh isn't done all that well. They're not bad additions, they just don't meld or work especially well with the rest of the game and therefore come off feeling very forced and artificial.
As you'd expect, Quantum of Solace is played almost entirely from a first-person perspective. The biggest deviation from the COD4 gameplay formula is actually one of the few moments when you'll be removed from Daniel Craig's point of view. Treyarch, figuring that they had a star that most would want to look at, decided to implement a cover system into the standard first-person shooter gameplay of QoS. It works similarly to what we've seen from the likes of Gears of War and others.
Basically any surface can be stuck to by pressing A and you can even dash into a piece of cover by holding the button. The cover system is better than some (Kane & Lynch) but not as functional as others. There were times when I felt like I should be able to crouch behind something in front of me and I couldn't. Only to find out that I was perfectly aligned and it was the cover system screwing me up. It wasn't a massive annoyance, but the few deaths that I was able to chalk up to the faulty cover were a nuisance.
Another problem with the cover system is that the levels are built around the mechanic. That means that the free-flowing way of dispatching enemies from several different angles as was available in COD4 is no longer available. Instead there are too many situations relegated to standard stop and pop gameplay. That's fine if things are bright and flashy with lots of blood and guts, but when you're fighting a bunch of henchmen things can feel a little tired.
Luckily there are moments when things aren't so mundane. When the game tries it does do a good job of delivering intensity and flare but those moments are spaced a bit too far apart. Also trying to keep the action fresh are the levels which stay varied throughout. They're all a little predictable – there's the requisite speeding train and museum levels – but at least you're not running down the same hallways over and over.
You can tell that the developers really wanted to make this game different than COD4, but that doesn't stop the roots of Infinity Ward's from being the silver lining in the package. Every other mechanic just falls a little bit short. There's the balancing act where players need to keep a wavering dot in the center of the screen with the left analog stick, there's a hacking mini-game where you'll need to match directional button presses in a kind of Simon Says variant, and then there are the quicktime melee events which get stale after a few uses. Again, none of it is bad, but the mechanics just aren't compelling.
Aesthetically the game is pleasing to the eye but can also be annoyingly bad at times. The overall look of the game from Daniel Craig's Bond character to the environments are well detailed and fit just fine with the Bond lineage. Where QoS stumbles is in the enemy design and a few of the frills that COD4 delivered so well. Every enemy you see in the game is the same. Not only do they look the same, but they act the same. They pull off the same death animations, the same rolls and slides to get into cover and the same intelligence (which is lacking at times) throughout the game. At first it's cool to see guys jumping over tables and sliding behind a box, but when they do it for the 213th time and it looks identical to the rest of the game, it gets a little grating.
The explosions don't look good. At all. They almost look cartoony at parts which is a real shame because there are explosive canisters everywhere. Even where they don't make sense, like on the inside of a museum or at a construction site, there will be a bevy of explosive options. They have a nice, unrealistic sheen so it's extremely obvious what can be destroyed and what can't. Not exactly the most organic of play experiences when you have a hydrogen can gleaming at you.
The most disappointing thing wasn't the enemies, it wasn't the cover system and it wasn't the incredible amount of explosive objects around the environment; instead it was the sheer length of the game. I enjoyed most of my time with the missions -- stumbling out to your car to electrify your heart back to life is cool and the gun play is fun enough -- but it's all just too damn short. You can beat Quantum of Solace in around five hours, maybe four. And it's structured in a way that puts you through most of the events in Casino Royale and then only touches on the plot of Quantum of Solace. It feels like they intended to make this a Casino Royale game but didn't make the first movie so decided to tack on a few QoS locations and slap a new name on the box.
The multiplayer offering is standard with plenty of Bond-themed modes. There's one where everyone is playing as Organization members with one Bond on the map, there's one where two teams each have a Bond VIP that must stay alive and there's the requisite Golden Gun mode. There are other, perhaps more standard multiplayer varieties but it's the ones that bring you into the Bond universe that are the stars of the show. Multiplayer performed well and was fun enough during my time with it. There was some noticeable lag at times and the fact that there's no perks or reward system beyond standard cash-based equipment and weapon unlocks is disappointing.
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