IGN Review of Bond 007: Quantum of Solace
There's no single genre on Wii that has more of a hit and miss factor than first-person shooters. Ubisoft kicked things off with Red Steel during Wii's launch, while the sleeper hit (and unexpected) Call of Duty 3 stole the show for the system's first round. Fast forward another year, and we've seen the bar raise substantially, with titles like Medal of Honor Heroes 2 topping the charts, and developer High Voltage Software teasing The Conduit for an early 2009 release. The Wii certainly has its highs, but as anyone unfortunate enough to end up with Quantum of Solace Wii during this holiday season will undoubtedly be able to vouch, the system also has its unmistakable lows.
First of all, let's put this in perspective. Developer Treyarch (also responsible for the entertaining Call of Duty 3 on Wii) has just now finished up Call of Duty: World at War for all major consoles, including a few Wii-specific efforts, as well as Quantum of Solace for not only 360/PS3, but also again Nintendo's console. No developer has infinite manpower though, so while other teams may in fact have 100% focus on their Wii efforts, this is certainly not the case with Treyarch, and it's pretty obvious that Bond on Wii is a result of everything that could possibly come with a broken back development-wise. This is far from an excuse for why it's bad (the result is still a sub-par product), but it's at least a window into why the game may have taken such a turn for the worse. The game has the right design set in place, mimicking the 360/PS3 SKUs as much as it can, but is a wreck outside of the core design, and we're talking everything from visuals to draw distance, control, bugs, AI problems, and most importantly, abysmal framerate issues. Like Ubisoft's latest Brothers in Arms effort on Wii, Bond barely runs at times, and in fact has worse performance issues than Double Time does during key instances. We never thought we'd say that.
The core design with Quantum of Solace is the same as it is on 360 and PS3, so you get a mesh of both first-person shooting aspects (the core of the experience), as well as a new cover system used on top of the Call of Duty 4 engine, which allows you to pull off some similar attach and maneuver skills found in games like GRAW, Rainbow Six Vegas, and Gears of War. For the most part the new design works, as cover is pretty easy to use, and actually really rewarding, though even there you'll find the same issues as on Bond's next gen counterparts, having auto-attach happen when trying to sprint (both assigned to A), and having some areas in the game not activate for cover at all. Using IR to snipe out enemies from behind the safety of pillars and boxes feels nice, and it proves that a 3rd person action game hinged around cover can work well with the Wii remote.
With that being said, every facet of the game suffers from the same sluggish IR, and it's one of the main plaguing issues in Quantum of Solace. The framerate itself (throughout the entire game) is unreliable at best, and broken entirely in some areas, but even when the game runs with a decent 30fps or so chug - which granted, is the majority of the time - the IR doesn't refresh that fast, and you get the same general control oddness that's sometimes found in Call of Duty: World at War, though more amplified here. Move the cursor too fast, and it'll become choppy and slow to catch up with your movements. Pull up iron sights, and small movements won't register, removing the simple fluidity that comes with Wii's "point-and-click" system. The only saving grace is the game's lock-on system, which will orient the camera on a specific baddie when players hold down Z. Still, with free IR still in effect during lock-on, it fixes only the camera, leaving aiming again to the player; something that would work great with a reliable cursor, but seriously under delivers in the game's current state. As a final note on the lock-on, there are again reoccurring issues between Wii and 360/PS3, as the game doesn't always lock on to the character you intended, or sometimes won't lock on when you're aiming at a person still partially under cover. It works, but it's far from perfect.
The game even attempts to capture some of the next gen feel found on 360 and PS3 with destructible environments, lots of voice work with the original cast, and lower resolution versions of the 360/PS3's CG sequences, but much like the rest of the package, these attempts at stronger presentation just don't pay off like they could have. There's very little destruction found in the game, with what little we did see focusing around mainly scripted events. The video sequences - basically lower res 360 footage - can actually lag or go low-frame during playback as well, which certainly doesn't bode well for the overall presentation.
Where the overall product really fails though, and where Quantum of Solace goes from a game that would be for the "die-hard Bond fans only," and instead passes into an "everyone should avoid it" situation is the technical offering, specifically in the game's overall framerate. We've had areas in the game that were nearly impossible to beat due to lag, with the screen dropping to two to three frames per second at times, and with IR control following suit, every dip in performance means a loss in control. When not in high-intensity areas, the game runs decently, but you'll find the occasional slowdown if you look out windows or towards the horizon line, right before new enemy entrances or scripted sequences, or in random areas due to too much in-level geometry. If World at War on Wii can take the Call of Duty 4 engine and make it work, Quantum of Solace should be able to as well, and what it really comes down to (the only logical explanation) is that there simply wasn't enough time or manpower on this game to make a significant effort. It was forced onto Wii, not optimized, and in turn is a pain to play at times.
©2008-11-04, IGN Entertainment, Inc. All Rights Reserved