007: Quantum of Solace – Reviewed – XBox 360

5 min read
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Dum-dirri-dumm-ti-dim-dim, dum-dirri-dum-ti-dim-dim… okay nevermind. That was my rather feeble attempt at re-enacting the Bond theme song. Quite obviously I’m a Bond fan and have watched all (most) of the movies. When it comes to games the Bond franchise has always be below par, but I guess that has become the norm for movie tie-in games. There has been quite a bit of hype around Quantum of Solace. Let’s see if the hype was worth it.

As is expected the story of Quantum of Solace should revolve around the movie of the same name, quite obvious… you would think. To tell you the truth, the story barely touches anything regarding the movie. The whole story is about Bond wanting revenge for what happened at the end of Casino Royale (the movie… as there was no game). After playing for about an hour, the story arch jumps to James explaining why he is after revenge and this effectively takes you into the Casino Royale story. Flashback ensues… the rest three-quarters of the game is played out in the Casino Royale story arch. It’s as if because they never made a Casino Royale game, they just made it now and slapped the new movie’s name on it. Really, of the 5 hours that it took me to finish the game, 3 hours was spent in events happening in Casino Royale. And yes, you read right… the game is a whole 5 hours long, one of the shortest games I’ve ever played.

So story isn’t always what a game is about. I mean, even if a game has no story, it can still be tons of fun. With a fantastic base to work from (Call of Duty engine and Gears of War cover mechanics), you would think that they would at least make a success of the gameplay. Sadly this is not so. It starts of quite well, the controls of the game is solid, responsive and well-implemented. The cover system is very well developed, giving the player the ability to switch between walls, boxes and various cover points quite easily. But unfortunately this all wears of too quickly and turns into a run-of-the-mill FPS.

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The reason for this is the two banes of FPS’, namely predictability and linear gameplay. You just follow your nose at the end of the day. There’s only one way of doing a certain thing and only one direction to move to an objective. The game is also very easy, there’s no challenge at all in finishing this game. You really die if you do very stupid things.

Once is a while there are some very well done “set pieces”. For instance at one point you have to navigate a drugged Bond out of the Casino Royale. The crumbling building in Venice (at the end of the Casino Royale movie), was also very exciting. But unfortunately these kinds of moments are few and far between.

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There are also a few mini-games that Treyarch introduces, there’s a balancing act where players need to keep a wavering dot in the centre of a bar, there’s a hacking mini-game where you need to match directional button presses to what is shown on the screen and then there’s the quicktime melee events, that seems to be used in every other game these days. All of this isn’t that bad, but the mechanics behind it is just lacking.

As I said previously, the game makes use of Infinity Ward’s CoD engine. This is really apparent as the graphics looks good, the details of the levels are reasonably detailed. Although I must admit that at some points (like in-game movies) not all of the power of the engine was used. Craig David’s likeness is genuinely excellent but the henchmen were quite a disappointment. They used the same 3 or 4 models for enemies, it really looks like you are fighting an army of clones. And it doesn’t help that the AI uses the exact same rolls and slides over and over. Variety is the spice of live… but these henchman-clones have no spice at all. The sound on the other hand is excellent, with realistic gunfire and explosions and the actors themselves do excellent voice acting for the characters.

The multiplayer offering is standard with a lot of Bond-themed game modes. To name a few, there’s the VIP mode where both teams have to protect their Bond VIP, “hunt the Bond” mode where everyone except one player are Organization members. The multiplayer performed well (as well as can be expected with our broadband and international games) and the few times that I played I did enjoy myself. You earn money in the games with which you can buy new equipment or upgrade current equipment.

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With this genre as full as it is, the only way to have a successful game is to make sure that you have an intuitive and less linear game. A lot of FPS are saved by their multiplayer but even though the multiplayer in this game is fun, it’s just not enough to save it. I was also extremely disappointed with the length of the game.

Scoring:

Gameplay: 6.5/10 [It’s just too easy]                                                         
Presentation: 7/10 [Could have used the CoD engine better]                           
Sound: 9/10 [Excellent]                                                                                 
Value: 5/10 [Full price for a game that only lasts 5 hours]

Overall: 6.8/10 [With the amount of AAA titles out, this is not worth it]

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