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Review – 007: Quantum of Solace

As a gaming franchise the Bond series is still arguably clinging to the coattails of Goldeneye 64, which to this day is regarded not only as one of the best first-person shooters of all time, but as the title which almost single-handedly popularized competitive multiplayer. Of course you’ll have to take my word for all of this, because Goldeneye has aged beyond horribly and the idea of sitting around a TV, squashed up on the couch with your buddies and staring at a small quarter of the screen is as ludicrous now as seamless online gameplay probably was then. But, this is how things used to be, kids.

Anyway, Quantum of Solace is developed by Treyarch and runs on the Call of Duty 4 engine, which is about as good of a start as we could reasonably expect. It also has the distinct advantages of having a recognisable, current star at the helm, and being based on a film (two films, actually) released recently enough that people are probably still interested in them. Luckily Treyarch realized that Quantum of Solace alone was far too boring and worthless to function as the sole basis for anything, so a lot of the game is built around scenes pinched from the vastly superior Casino Royale. So far, so good.

This does lead to problems right out of the gate though, as Treyarch are so keen to show off their exclusive Daniel Craig license that the camera has an irritating tendency to pull back into third person whenever you elect to interact with objects, perform a melee takedown or use cover. The constant switch of perspective is annoying, for one thing, but frequently confusing during the more intense firefights, and I found myself wishing for the fixed camera angle of Blood Stone with worrying frequency. Moving and shooting in first person works just as well as it does in third, but having them both share screen time feels so schizophrenic that they ultimately detract from one another, and the necessity of cover ensures we see far more of our avatar than we might have expected.

This, while annoying, still doesn’t do any serious damage to the gameplay itself though. Many of the more recognizable scenes from the films are actually very well-realized, and playing through them is a lot of fun regardless of where the camera is. There are peaks and valleys, of course, with the casino poisoning scene and construction yard parkour chase from Royale being particularly good examples of the former, but the overall quality is consistently high enough that minor quibbles with the camera don’t matter that much at all.

Quantum of Solace also does boss fights pretty well, wrapping them up in short quick-time events which closely resemble a typical Bond action scene. QTEs are obviously nothing new, but I like their usage here; they allow the staging and cinematography room to breathe and create some natural drama, which is nice, and they neatly sidestep having to present each villain as a superhuman bullet-sponge just to elevate the tension. This isn’t groundbreaking by any means, but it works here.

That isn’t to say that the game’s length allows for many of them though, because this is a short campaign that, even on the hardest difficulty, most players are going to blow through pretty quickly. I’m glad it didn’t outstay its welcome, but an extra mission or two wouldn’t have been a bad idea all the same. There’s no real depth or replay value outside of some collectibles and the odd mission-specific achievement if you’re into that kind of thing, so there’s a chance the whole thing will pass too quickly to leave any lasting impressions.

This leads me to lament the lack of an online community these days, because I distinctly remember having a lot of fun with the multiplayer when the game was originally released. It was never Call of Duty, but there was a strong selection of maps and match types, a neat weapon purchase/upgrade system, quick and easy matchmaking and little to no lag. I’m willing to bet that if you have a few friends who own this, Golden Gun mode is still worth sinking some time into.

Overall, despite the fact that it’s impossible to consider this anything other than a fairly generic FPS, I like it and would recommend it. It isn’t the “modern Goldeneye” which a lot of people hoped it would be, but it’s polished enough that fans of Bond or first person shooters in general should be able to find something to enjoy here. If nothing else it’s still better than 007 Legends.

G7

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