Xbox 360 Review

Quantum of Solace

Just another day at the office...

Due primarily to Rare's outstanding creation, the seminal Goldeneye 007, games related to the Bond films have a degree of higher expectations associated with them than the usual box-office cash-ins. This media prejudice is however looking quite unfounded these days, as every other Bond game has been pretty mediocre, and I'm sad to report that Quantum of Solace isn't much of an exception. A solid Call of Duty 4 engine, some impressive level design, and a duck-and-cover mechanic inspired by Gears of War are all not enough to save this title from being a rather unchallenging and uninspired film spin-off.

Gameplay segments are separated by chunks of CGI reconstructed film action - presumably showing scenes from the actual movie (I haven't seen it yet). These cinematic sequences demonstrate all the game's strengths: excellent production quality, a nice solid graphical engine, good voice acting, and the inspired Bond storyline.

When it comes to playing the actual game, we run into problems. Enemies are notably dumb, usually following pre-set paths, robotically hiding and appearing from cover periodically and often found facing straight at walls clearly unaware of the barrage of loud noise behind them. Every now and then a group of enemies try and flank you, but this is nothing more than a pre-scripted deception; Quantum of Solace obviously does not include clever artificial intelligence, despite the advances made elsewhere.

You spend most of your time popping your head out of cover, Gears of War style; except without the style. Run to cover, hide, pop a cap in the jumping jack's head, and then skip to the next bush/bench/wall/whatever. Occasionally you come across a bit of destructive scenery to exploit, or you get to sneak up on a foolhardy enemy and perform an execution from behind, but it's icing on tarmac.

There are also the sporadic appearance of interactive multimedia sequences, which require a series of buttons to be pressed at the correct time by the player in order for the player to progress. But the difficultly level is so low, it's verging on completely dull, and since the idea itself is implemented much more poorly than the same concept in, say, Resident Evil 4, it actually wouldn't be much fun even if it was difficult.

Due to the relative stupidity of the artificial intelligence, and the fact that Bond's health recharges very quickly after only a few seconds of cover, the game experience as a whole is actually extremely easy. Couple that with the fact that even an average gamer can plow through this little ditty in just over five hours and Houston we have a big ass problem.

On the flip side of the coin, there is some interesting and occasionally inspired level design. There are certain sections where Bond must solve puzzles or shimmy along edges, and the camera changes appropriately as expected. There's also a lovely little train level, and some explosive action in Venice taken from the previous movie. On top of all that, the engine looks pretty and it's all very solid.

Voice acting is of the highest order, while the actual actors from the film have been used, of course. Furthermore the general audio - explosions, gunshots and so forth - is generally believable and soft on the ear. The music is appropriate, including the official soundtrack which accompanies the game's rather artistic intro, assumingly an interpretation of the actual film's introduction.

Another saving grace is the game's decent multiplayer. This includes a mode where one player assumes the role of an MI6 agent and must diffuse bombs planted by enemy agents. There's a notoriously popular mode from other FPS games whereby a team of agents must escort a VIP and avoid assassins comprised of the other team. Furthermore, a mode known as "Golden Gun" makes an appearance, and this mode gives one-player a one-hit kill weapon but arms the rest of the players with the standard rack. Cash-based unlockables and customisable weapons help to add to the longevity and interest in the multiplayer modes.

Ultimately this game is little more than a bit of interactive film fun, aimed squarely at the masses. Its what you'd expect - a cardboard cut-out which has been furiously polished. Its playable, its easy, its simple, its entertaining, and its got a bit of good multiplayer; but it wouldn't challenge an amateur gamer and it'll most likely be back in the box and filed away as "done with" faster than a day in the office.

70%
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We need to talk... about 'gamers'
Because that term has a much wider definition than it used to.