MI6 reviews the first 007 game from Activision, "Quantum
Does James Bond's debut on the next-gen platforms
hit the mark?
"Quantum of Solace: The Game" Review
23rd November 2008
“The name’s Bond. James Bond” is
amongst the opening words voiced by Activision’s
digital Daniel Craig in their first attempt at the franchise
and 007’s first entry on next generation hardware.
On inserting the disk for the first time, the game immediately
kicks into action with a cutscene re-enacting the last
few minutes of Casino Royale from Bond’s viewpoint – aiming
down the scope of a sniper rifle as he takes a well-placed
shot at Mr. White. The scene continues with Bond speeding
to White’s estate in his Aston Martin DBS before
exchanging the closing line of Casino Royale.
opening few minutes of action quickly set the style of
gameplay; the use of the cover system is pivotal to
surviving the onslaught of enemy fire and is well implemented
with smooth transitions between first and third person.
Online (All Platforms)
Unlike the majority of previous Bond games where the player
boasted large reserves of health and armour, Treyarch have opted
for a recharging health system popular in other modern shooters.
Bond can only take a few shots before falling, thus cover becomes
a key gameplay element, slowing down what would otherwise be
too much of an arcade shooter. Weapons borrow much from the Call
of Duty 4 system, acting realistically with varying amounts of
recoil and behaving most accurately when using the iron sights
which bring the weapon in closer for a finer aim.
The main cast from both films, including Craig, have convincingly
rerecorded select dialogue to retell the story from both films.
Unfortunately, the use of most but not all likenesses draws particular
attention to the characters such as Mr. White, whose likeness
and voice have been replaced with a generic recreation that lacks
the effectiveness that Jesper Christensen portrayed in the film.
Craig’s likeness is particularly good and much effort has
gone into faithfully recreating the various costumes of all the
characters in both films.
Above: The only character render of the game released shows
Activision's 3D interpretation of Camille, played by Olga
On completion of the game’s first
mission, the player is rewarded with a gunbarrel sequence
implemented in a style similar to Casino Royale, followed
by a pre-rendered title sequence that incorporates the
Lake Garda pre-title car chase from Quantum of Solace.
An original song, “When Nobody Loves You” performed
by Estonian singer Kerli Kõiv provides a fitting
and catchy replacement to Jack White and Alicia Key’s
theme which is missing from the game.
As you progress through the game’s
fifteen missions, it quickly becomes apparent that Treyarch
have taken liberty
to extend and on occasion change elements of the storyline
for gameplay or technical reasons. The majority are justified,
for example, the meeting of Quantum at the opera in Bregenz
takes place in a closed, empty theatre - presumably because
of the technical hurdle required to generate thousands
of audience members. Some unusual choices have been made,
such as the exclusion of the Liberian Embassy in Madagascar
as a playable section. The location does however appear
separately as a multiplayer map.
The majority of the story is told from MI6’s point of
view using voiceover from M and Tanner, overlaid on 2D animation
screens similar to those seen in the film. This decision is somewhat
understandable given the changing requirements of a film still
in production – however, where cutscenes have been used
the result is a mixed affair. Some scenes are rendered real-time
in the engine while others have been pre-rendered using high
polygon versions of the characters. The key fight sequences have
been implemented using quick time event cutscenes which, despite
being a matter of simple button mashing, are particularly good
at making the action feel interactive while playing out the film’s
sequence of events.
Graphics are understandably the best seen in
a Bond game so far; excellent environmental effects such as rain
are used to
effect in several levels, giving the developers the opportunity
to show off the engine’s capabilities by increasing the
specular lighting on Bond’s leather jacket to make it look
realistically wet. Small touches such as particle effects and
litter blowing in the wind make the gameplay experience visually
rich. The enemy AI reacts convincingly and presents a challenge
by flanking and flushing the player out of cover using grenades,
particularly on the highest difficulty setting, where the effectiveness
of their aim and damage increases exponentially.
The best of the gameplay is perhaps the underused
stealth and puzzle elements which are excellently displayed in
the first half of
the Tosca and Airport missions. Both require the player to sneak
past or disable cameras while silently disposing of enemy goons.
This slow, calculated approach is arguably more rewarding than
the pure shooting aspects which dominate the majority of the
game. The opening of the Tosca mission presents Bond as we know
him best - dressed in black tie. The beautifully rendered floating
stage surrounded by water and colourfully lit up at dusk demonstrates
inspirational level design and excellent use of the film location.
A button press puzzle that involves lowering parts of a bridge
comes as a breath of fresh air and sells the mission as one of
the highlights of the game.
Composer Christopher Lennertz returns to score his second Bond
game and provides an excellent orchestral score, echoing David
Arnold’s film work and introducing the Bond theme originally
into his music.
Outside of the campaign, the online multiplayer rises to the
challenge of creating a fun, accessible online experience with
both traditional and unique gameplay modes in free-for-all or
team play, battling ‘Agents’ against the ‘Organisation’.
The ‘Bond vs.’ and ‘Bond Evasion’ modes
effectively solve the problem of deciding who gets to play James
Bond by rotating the character each round. Eagle eyed fans will
spot a throwback to the layout of one of the GoldenEye 64 multiplayer
maps which is a particularly nice touch from the developers.
Despite the plethora of missions, the single player campaign
is quite short and will only deliver the seasoned player six
or seven hours of gameplay on the highest difficulty setting.
Achievements on Xbox 360 and PS3 prolong the longevity of the
game with tasks such as retrieving all cell phones scattered
around the missions. The cell phones offer some depth, side story
and on one occasion explanation of why there are so many explosive
canisters sitting about inside Casino Royale. Helium tanks to
fill balloons, of course.
Quantum of Solace warrants a purchase from any Bond fan,
offering a short but fun campaign that captures the main elements
both films well. The multiplayer mode is the best since GoldenEye
64 and extends the game’s life well beyond the campaign.
|Single Player Campaign
MI6 "Quantum of Solace: The Game" Coverage