Quantum of Solace Review
If there's one publisher that has the ability to craft some of the best first person shooters, it's definitely Activision. Housing the amazing next-generation Call of Duty engine, Activision can provide all of their developers an opportunity to avoid unnecessary tweaking and fine tuning, and allow them to concentrate on the adventure at hand. Unfortunately for Treyarch, they must've been too preoccupied with using the COD4 engine in order to build Call of Duty: World at War, and forget they still have another FPS game that's in need of attention. And thus, our first attempt at a great James Bond shooter since GoldenEye, has gone down the drain...again.
Despite it's name, Quantum of Solace actually covers the events of both Daniel Craig films, but it starts off with events from Quantum, and leads into playable flashbacks of Casino Royale - the first of which is the, now famous, chase scene from the beginning. The game is more focused on the events of Quantum of Solace, though, so you aren't exactly getting a two-for-one experience here. That said, the game does exaggerate the events of the movies by adding in or extending the gun fights, so as to extend the overall experience.
Expectations for this Bond game were surely high when I found out that it'd be running on the Call of Duty 4 engine. "How could they possibly screw this up?" I said to myself. Well they did. Again. Quantum of Solace utilizes some pretty cool gameplay mechanics, such as a seamless switch to a third-person perspective when you're taking cover, as well as quick time events (QTE) when you're engaged in close-quarters combat. But then the problems begin to arise.
While the general feel of the game seems solid, the objectives and the overall progression shows fault. For one, there is far too much redundancy. A few stages in, you'll quickly realize that you've been doing the same thing the entire time: running for cover, shooting over your back, and repeat. The pace here is largely axed by the cover mechanic in the game, which Treyarch abuses to the point that it's just tiresome after a while. The objectives also don't come off as very diverse, and you'll largely find yourself going off on generic tasks and missions.
If you can get past the average game structure, and you're just looking for a game where you can just shoot, shoot, shoot, then Quantum of Solace should appease you. But if you're looking for a really polished experience and are looking for Call of Duty quality here, you won't find it. I will say that aside from the objectives, the gameplay actually has quite a bit of potential, which makes the multiplayer portion of the game quite a bit of fun, assuming you can find people to play with.
Unfortunately, even the multiplayer aspect is below average, as it only supports a meager 12 people. This leaves me asking, why go through the trouble of using such a great game engine, when you don't even utilize the strengths that made it great in the first place? Since Treyarch was working on COD: World at War, why not employ that knowledge and inject it into Quantum of Solace, as well? Why not make Quantum feature that same kind of attention to detail as Call of Duty? Why give us such a generic story mode? Why rob us of total players online? And why not give us any co-op modes? Even if Quantum of Solace boasted better mission structure, it'd still be too barebones to be considered anything great.
As far as the visual execution goes, I will give Treyarch some credit in that department. While the game may start off a bit on the bland side, as the underground portion seems a bit...gray, as soon as you make it outside, you'll notice that the graphics begin to shine a bit more. The visuals are a mixed bag, as the outdoor areas boast some really nice texture work all over the buildings and such, but the indoor stuff isn't as impressive. Unfortunately, some of the more nature-friendly areas aren't exactly filled with great looking foliage, another aspect that COD4 did well, but Quantum doesn't.
Additionally, the framerate isn't nearly as stable as that of COD4, which further makes less sense to us; but it isn't terrible, as we've certainly seen much worse. Lastly, I do like the fact that Daniel Craig looks pretty much spot-on, and there are no issues with picture clarity, or things like pop-up. All in all, the graphics aren't awful, but they certainly don't do the COD4 engine a grain of justice.
As you would expect, voice acting is plentiful in the game, and it helps that Daniel Craig and some of the crew contribute to the in-game dialogue. There's some banter during gameplay, but you'll hear most of it from the cut-scenes. Sound effects aren't shabby, but don't really stand out all too much; gun fire does sound good and powerful, though.
Overall, Quantum of Solace is far from being the next GoldenEye, and considering the game engine that it runs on, that's a real shame. Between working on COD: World at War, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, and this, Treyarch was bound to pay less attention to one game, the film licensed one. There are some rather solid qualities that can be found, and they come alive when you're playing online, but even the multiplayer suffers from a lack of depth and features. Quantum of Solace doesn't break the mold of bad movie to game adaptations.
12/25/2008 Arnold Katayev