Quantum of Solace Preview
James Bond is ageless and timeless; you will never see an end to his movies, which also means you will never see an end to the video game incarnations. Some view this as a good thing, primarily because many Bond-based titles in the past have been quite good (in stark contrast to the tradition of games based on films sucking). You probably remember a little game called Goldeneye 007, right? That N64 game blew a whole new generation of gamers away, and this time around, Activision and Treyarch are seeking a repeat performance. They’re using the engine behind Infinity Ward’s award-winning Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and they’re treating the new Bond game – Quantum of Solace – as a fresh new revival of the franchise. Obviously, we have a new hero in Daniel Craig this time around, and the game will begin just after the end of “Casino Royale,” which is probably good news for fans. What we’re looking for is an invigorating action/adventure worthy of the Bond name!
To start with, we know what you’re thinking: the engine in CoD4 is, quite obviously, a first-person mechanic. So will Quantum Solace be a FPS as it often has been in the past? Well, no, not exactly. When moving about normally, you will be in first-person mode, but when you hide in cover or climb a ladder, for instance, the camera will zoom out, allowing you to see the full character image. Furthermore, stealth will be a major element in the game, and that’s another time when a third-person view will be utilized; a particularly effective stealth kill must be seen in all its glory, yes? Much like the Close Quarters Combat (CQC) found in the likes of the Metal Gear Solid series, this Bond game will boast hand-to-hand fights and silent kills. Also, when you’re participating in some intense platforming, like shimmying along a ledge or leaping through a sinking house (remember that scene in the movie?), the camera will again switch between first and third-person. In some ways, we’re a little concerned about these early details, just because we’re wondering how often the camera is going to be switching back and forth… But we imagine it should be a fluid and painless process.
As for the gameplay foundation, one must realize that Bond movies aren’t always about firefights and combat. It certainly plays a major role, of course, but there’s a whole lot more involved; everything from fast cars to fast women should be included, although we imagine the latter will stay within the standard “T-Teen” boundaries. But the point is, you won’t always be doing the same thing in Quantum Solace, which clearly increases the variety and diversity. You’re not just running ‘n gunning; you might be accessing a set of fancy futuristic gadgets, sneaking about like Sam Fisher, laying the hand-to-hand smackdown like Bourne, or executing any number of spy-like duties. Furthermore, we’ve heard a bit about some freedom in this Bond entry; whereas previous installments had you following a very linear path, there may be more than one way to go about completing a particular objective this time. With this new generation, we may be leaving total linearity behind for good, as evidenced by old franchises that are now adopting a more modern structure.
According to some hands-on time IGN spent with Quantum Solace, it seems there’s a great deal of attention paid to intricate detail, and the sheer variety offered by this action experience should be most impressive. Much of the adventure may be cemented in interactive cinematic form, which falls nicely in line with the movies (duh), and should immerse us in the adventure like never before. But in the same vein as freedom, this new generation is also focusing heavily on multiplayer, and we don’t have much information on that aspect for this title. Goldeneye was the epitome of console multiplayer fun way back when, but since that time, we really haven’t had a Bond game that has so fully embraced multiplayer. Perhaps Treyarch is placing a heavier emphasis on the single-player campaign, though, because it seems the effort given to detail, the different styles of gameplay, and the highly engaging and destructible environment, is undeniable. Remember, with multiplayer, we can probably only focus on one or two parts of that gameplay (like the firefights and bare-arms combat).
Quantum Solace is scheduled to arrive some time this fall, and as the first Bond game for the new generation, we have high hopes for it. Treyarch is also working on Call of Duty: World at War, which looks very good, so by the end of this year, that team may have several gems to add to its solid development history. The biggest key to this Bond project is to appeal to fans of the movies, but to also provide an accomplished title that offers a little something for all action aficionados. Without any evidence of “Bond” in the title, some may accidentally miss it…don’t give ‘em any reason to, Treyarch. Give us the intensity, flashiness, and classic Bond panache we’ve all come to know and appreciate.
7/1/2008 Ben Dutka