Buffing up Bond
Quantum of Solace
Developer: Treyarch, Publisher: Activision
Format: Xbox 360
Bond is back, with his trademark combination of grit and glamour. Along with the recent release of Quantum of Solace in cinemas comes this, the inevitable videogame tie-in. As a Bond game, Quantum of Solace attracts unfair comparisons between itself and Rare's classic Goldeneye 007, but as a movie-tie in, it's more comfortable sitting alongside its silver screen counterpart. Such affinity, symbiosis even, is apparent from the off.
The production values of this game are astounding. It's obvious that Treyarch were given exclusive access to the film's concept art, cast, and sets. Every exotic and not-so-exotic location is lovingly recreated in the game, and the action unfolds as if you were on-set as Bond, whose in-game likeness to actor Daniel Craig is uncanny. The game's familiarity to the film is bolstered by the familiarity it shares with other games. Since Bond's genre of choice is the ever-popular First Person Shooter, Quantum of Solace is instantly familiar with gamers, and is particularly at home on the Xbox 360. Powered by Infinity Ward's Call Of Duty 4: Modern Combat graphics engine, Quantum of Solace presents tried-and-tested technology coupled with already-established control schemes. At heart, this is a straight shooter with none of the awkward driving sections or third-person camera difficulties of earlier EA Bonds. Aiming at enemies in both first and third person perspective is precise, and ducking in and out of environmental cover to avoid their gunfire is handled smoothly. All in all, the transition between first and third person action is seamless, providing both a solid gaming and cinematic experience. Also, unlike the military brother that it gets its graphics from, Quantum of Solace has, at times, a wonderfully vibrant colour palette. The Sienna environments are truly eye-catching: vibrant and exotic, as any Bond locale should be.
There are however, some bad points to the game. As with the aforementioned EA Bond games, Quantum of Solace curtails player freedom of movement throughout its gorgeous levels. Often you'll be presented with impassable doors or barricades which force you to follow a predetermined path, one set by the linear narrative of the film. In fact, one of the game's major strengths also reveals its most noticeable weakness. In following the events of the film so closely, Quantum of Solace denies your desire to play at your leisure, to truly be Bond in the way you wish. As in a film, you're only acting as Bond, following stage directions: Bond must run up this crane here, because he did that in the movie. He must fall down this hole here, because that happened as well. This reliance on linear set pieces over-simplifies the world. Where it excels in graphical luxuriance, it falls down on in replayability.
Quantum of Solace is just like Bond himself: solid and reliable, and its familiar features honed and polished to perfection. But also like Bond, this cannot change or hide the shortcomings you'll find on closer inspection. However, for First Person Shooter fans, this is a good buy, and the mostly excellent online multiplayer mode will bring long-term satisfaction.
Score: Four Stars (Out of Five)
Stuart ‘LizardGenes' Lindsay