Tuesday, June 23, 2009

007: Quantum of Solace Review

007: Goldeneye was more than just a 007 game. For many, it was the first game since Super Mario 64 that justified owning an N64. It also helped bring first person shooters, largely the domain of PCs at the time, to mainstream console gamers.

Since Goldeneye, the007 license went to EA and 007 games have largely been a crapshoot, with only really Nightfire standing out among them. That's not to say that they were bad (although some were), but they were all largely forgetable.

In 2007, with no game tie-in to the Casino Royale movie, MGM and EA's licensing agreement was terminated early, and the license went to Activision. With nine months until the expected relase of the Quantum of Solace movie, Activision set Treyarch (who were already at work on Call of Duty: World at War) to the task of having a game ready for the movie. The end result is a game that's not too bad... but not great either.

For starters, the good. Bond's third person adventures from Everything or Nothing and From Russia With Love are gone, and we're back to first person shooting built on the back of the Call of Duty 4 engine. Both Daniel Craig and Bond girl Olga Kurylenko lend their voices and likenesses to the game, among other Bond actors. And in a sort of extended flashback, you actually get to play through the events of both the Quantum of Solace and the Casino Royale movies, which helps add cohesion to the game's plot that I would have sorely appreciated when I watch the movie. This also gives the game a decent length.

The problem is that, while the Call of Duty 4 engine makes for great hectic battlefields, it either doesn't work as well for 007 or Treyarch was incapable of making it work for 007, take your pick. See, to make the most of having Daniel Craig's likeness, they implemented a cover system that switches to third person. You're more accurate when your sticking to cover... which is to say, you're penalized for playing a first person shooter as a first person shooter. They also added some stealth segments that, while certainly Bond-like, break the gameplay up like this: sneak from point A until point B, when scripted enemies start flooding the room. Find cover, moving only to avoid the occasional grenade, and shoot the enemies until the "Checkpoint reached" message pops up. Then stealth to point C, where you do the whole thing over again. Sometimes, as you shoot at enemies as they run into your field of view from your cover, the game almost feels like a shooting gallery.

In a way, though, I feel like we're expecting too much from the game, simply because we have fond memories of Goldeneye, and simply because we know the game is built on the Call of Duty 4 engine. Because, while Quantum of Solace is certainly no Call of Duty 4, it's really not a bad game. I daresay that Quantum of Solace is the best 007 game since Goldeneye.

Final Score: B-


Anonymous said...

Well Mike, while I do agree with your assessment of Quantum of Solace being a pretty good, but hardly great game, I do strongly disagree with another comment you made. That is of the mediocrity of Everything or Nothing. I consider EoN pretty darn close to Goldeneye in quality. Very good graphics, solid shooting, good controls, good sound, and a pretty good bond story made this a great Bond game in my opinion. Thanks.


Mike said...

Every opinion is valid. I often say things like "to each his own," because I do think it'd suck if everyone was into the same stuff. But for the record, I was so bored with EoN that I didn't even finish it. Quit around the mine levels.