Activision's 'Quantum of Solace' – What The Critics Said (Part I)
Late October/early November saw the release of the eagerly anticipated debut James Bond video game from Activision, Quantum of Solace around the world.
Combining the best of the Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace films into a single storyline and featuring the likeness of voice of Daniel Craig (along with many other actors from the two films), the game has a lot going for it.
The only question that remains: does Quantum of Solace live up to the hype?
Read on for a collection of various reviews from around the web to see what fans think of this latest addition to the 007 video game series…
ACTIVISION’S QUANTUM OF SOLACE: THE GAME
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID (PART I)
A true blockbuster of a game, Quantum of Solace is loud, dumb but sadly all-too-forgettable (Xbox 360)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
It’s not helped by an overindulgence of quick time event sections — and while we’re not quite of the mind that QTE is the all-encompassing evil that some seem to believe it to be, it nevertheless belies a lack of imagination that’s evident throughout much of the game. Whether they’re used when disposing enemies at close range or hacking into security systems, they form a disagreeable bulk of the game.
For all the game’s lack of fresh ideas, we’ll confess to enjoying its brief spell. Firstly it’s a licence to kill for and all the Bond trappings go a long way to hiding an otherwise bland game. The Bond theme is used to excess throughout, but if you’ve got it why not flaunt it? Although it plays fast and loose with its subject matter — commencing with the opening of Quantum of Solace, it makes the bizarre decision of presenting Casino Royale‘s events as an extended flashback mid-game — it does a fair job of throwing the more memorable moments of the films onto the screen.
It’s an often handsome game as well, if a little inconsistent. There are some great touches, such as the water streaming down Bond’s pistol in the rain and some well-realised locales. But the character models — Bond aside, with Treyarch managing to have captured Daniel Craig’s snarl well — are a lumpen bunch who often seem to resemble Morph more than they do their cinematic counterparts.
To top it off it’s a mercilessly brief game, with the single-player campaign clocking in at little over four hours. Although it at least doesn’t outstay its welcome, it will leave many feeling short-changed. Solace can be found in the multiplayer, which is a solid appropriation of Call of Duty 4‘s unstoppable recipe mixed up with some classic Bond tropes such as proximity mines and the golden gun, but it’s not quite enough to save the game from mediocrity.
A true blockbuster of a game, Quantum of Solace is loud, dumb but sadly all-too-forgettable. The Bond licence goes a good way to hiding the game’s lack of ideas and for the four hours the single-player campaign lasts there’s no denying it’s a solid blast, but ultimately there’s better ways to spend your money this autumn.
Quantum of Solace shines bright on the Playstation 2 (PS2)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
It’s extremely rare to see a multi-SKU game that shines the brightest on PlayStation 2 as opposed to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 or PC. Quantum of Solace is one of those rarities. While the QoS games on the current generation of systems were solid, they were built on the COD4 engine and had a bunch of mundane additions that detracted from the core, fun gunplay. Since the PS2 can’t handle the COD4 engine, what you get is a much more faithful translation of what Bond is supposed to be and, in the end, an entirely more enjoyable experience.
First things first, this is not a first-person shooter. Unlike every other version of Quantum of Solace, the PS2 version’s camera is entirely over Bond’s shoulder. You can rotate which side of the screen he’s on, but you’re always staring at his back (something ladies should love). This impacts gameplay for the better and enables some slower, more methodical encounters that feel more in touch with the Bond franchise.
The — flawed — cover system is still there. There are moments when it doesn’t work as it should and you won’t be able to shoot over or around certain objects despite it looking like it should be possible. Bond can, however, pull off some neat SWAT turns and go around corners while still staying in cover. Again, turns can be a bit hit or miss, but for the most part the cover system works well.
Thankfully QoS doesn’t cling to the same levels or designs as the other console versions. Instead, things are a bit more open — though not quite as expansive or detailed — but instead are more conducive to third-person shooting. The story arc is the same stuff that we’ve seen before, but the levels that are wrapped around it feel much more in tune with being James Bond.
This is GoldenEye for a new generation (Xbox 360)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Bond, James Bond. That phrase – those three words – are enough to send a tingle up the spine of almost any self-respecting action movie fan. It brings to mind an enduring action hero. It brings to mind advanced gadgets and beautiful, dangerous women. It triggers images of super-rich megalomaniacs with plans on world domination. It conjures up memories of over-the-top action. And, for seasoned gamers, it brings to mind one of the industry’s iconic video game titles: GoldenEye, from developer Rare, for the Nintendo 64. A game that did what many thought impossible: create a decent video game from a movie franchise, and more than that – a game that set the standard for console first-person shooters to follow. A standard games developers have tried, and failed, to match with numerous other Bond-licensed titles in the more than 10 years since GoldenEye‘s release. With the latest Bond title, Quantum Of Solace, regardless of how it fares in terms of sales, what your hardcore gamer will really want to know is: how does it compare to GoldenEye? Well Bond fans… read on!
Quantum Of Solace the movie is the second in what was described by the advanced movie PR as a ‘reimagining’ of the Bond franchise. Up till that point, despite MI6’s most famous secret agent having been played by a variety of different actors, and having toppled more evil geniuses than you’d think one man could tackle in a single lifetime, the general idea was that each Bond film followed on from the last. Not so for Casino Royale, a new Bond movie with a new Bond that took the story back to the beginning, with a newly-licensed 007 setting out on his very first mission. Out were the larger-than-life super-rich criminal masterminds with their underground lairs, in were down-to-earth, more believable bad-guys who were simply in it for the money. Casino Royale made Bond grittier, darker, more violent and more believable, and audiences loved it.
More George Lazenby than Daniel Craig (DS)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Until Mr Craig came along with his knobbly face and killer’s stare, the James Bond series was becoming more than a little stale. Pierce Brosnan was a capable Bond, but his character belonged to the old order of suave, wise-cracking secret agents who would just as soon bed the local floozy as take a beating for Queen and country. The whole franchise needed a revamp and a swift injection of fresh ideas.
The same scenario exists for Bond’s foray into games. Across pretty much every format, 007 has trundled along the same generic path of clichéd design for far too long. The recent silver screen reboot could be just the inspiration needed for game developers to turn out fresher takes on MI6’s finest.
While Quantum of Solace brings enough fresh ideas to the table to match up to the cinematic revival, however, it seems to forget the core values of even the worst Bond films. All of them (even Die Another Day) flow effortlessly from unlikely intro to overblown finale, and all are never less than well constructed pieces of light entertainment. Quantum of Solace, by contrast, is a struggle.
Quantum of Solace is a fun and exciting Bond title that has some truly engaging situations and pretty production values (Xbox 360)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
About a decade ago, a James Bond-based game came out that shook the fledgling first-person shooter genre to its very core. The game was GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64. The game was an instant classic and one of the best games ever created, bringing innovative gameplay concepts, intense action, and unparalleled multiplayer options. Many gamers still look back fondly on GoldenEye, but it came with unfortunate side effect: every single Bond game to come out since has been held to the ridiculously high standards set by it. Unfortunately, all have fallen short, some more spectacularly than others. However, as the first fruits of Activision’s purchase of the Bond license, Quantum of Solace is looking to change that.
Melding together elements of Casino Royale and the soon-to-be-released Bond film of the same name, Quantum of Solace marks the best example yet of film/games synergy for the Bond franchise, featuring the likeness of Daniel Craig, as well as voice work from a good chunk of the films’ cast, including Craig, Dame Judi Dench, Eva Green, and Olga Kurylenko, as well as intermixed story elements from each film to provide a cohesive experience.
Powered by the Call of Duty 4 engine and filled with some great action sequences, Quantum of Solace is a solid entry to the Bond video game franchise, to be sure. However, does it finally reach the bar set by GoldenEye? Unfortunately, the game has a fair share of problems, missing that mark of greatness. Still, if you are a Bond maniac and love a good FPS, then Quantum of Solace is worth a look this holiday season.
007’s first Wii entry comes up short (Wii)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
There’s no single genre on Wii that has more of a hit and miss factor than first-person shooters. Ubisoft kicked things off with Red Steel during Wii’s launch, while the sleeper hit (and unexpected) Call of Duty 3 stole the show for the system’s first round. Fast forward another year, and we’ve seen the bar raise substantially, with titles like Medal of Honor Heroes 2 topping the charts, and developer High Voltage Software teasing The Conduit for an early 2009 release. The Wii certainly has its highs, but as anyone unfortunate enough to end up with Quantum of Solace Wii during this holiday season will undoubtedly be able to vouch, the system also has its unmistakable lows.
First of all, let’s put this in perspective. Developer Treyarch (also responsible for the entertaining Call of Duty 3 on Wii) has just now finished up Call of Duty: World at War for all major consoles, including a few Wii-specific efforts, as well as Quantum of Solace for not only 360/PS3, and thus the development duties of Quantum of Solace Wii – made hand-in hand with Treyarch’s own design – has been passed off to Beenox Studios. Despite having a separate team on Bond for Wii, it’s obvious that the Wii version played second fiddle to the 360/PS3 efforts from the get-go, as the final product is a mash-up of half-working other system content, and a few original ideas for Nintendo’s system. The game has the right design set in place, mimicking the 360/PS3 SKUs as much as it can, but is a wreck outside of the core design, and we’re talking everything from visuals to draw distance, control, bugs, AI problems, and most importantly, abysmal framerate issues. Like Ubisoft’s latest Brothers in Arms effort on Wii, Bond barely runs at times, and in fact has worse performance issues than Double Time does during key instances. We never thought we’d say that.
Quantum of Solace isn’t the game that it should have been (Xbox 360)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Put a beautiful beau in a hot sports car, toss in a gorgeous babe for him to boink and then prop up a bunch of would-be henchman to stand in between our hero and his goal and you have the recipe for just about every Bond film in history. Of course, with every movie comes a game of the same name and Quantum of Solace is no different. It takes the Call of Duty 4 engine and wraps it around the James Bond universe with a few new trimmings to try and keep the action feeling as fresh as possible.
It’s just a bummer that roughly everything that was added in an effort to keep the game feeling fresh isn’t done all that well. They’re not bad additions, they just don’t meld or work especially well with the rest of the game and therefore come off feeling very forced and artificial.
As you’d expect, Quantum of Solace is played almost entirely from a first-person perspective. The biggest deviation from the COD4 gameplay formula is actually one of the few moments when you’ll be removed from Daniel Craig’s point of view. Treyarch, figuring that they had a star that most would want to look at, decided to implement a cover system into the standard first-person shooter gameplay of QoS. It works similarly to what we’ve seen from the likes of Gears of War and others.
Quantum of Solace is currently available on all platforms in the UK and US. Click here to order.
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