Quantum of Solace doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue but we’ve become accustomed over the years to odd names for the James Bond franchise. This latest instalment is Daniel Craig’s second outing as the iconic British Secret Agent code-named 007 and his first foray into the video game industry and its murky movie tie-in troubles. The good news is that QoS is almost as good as Goldeneye N64 in terms of raw gameplay and out-and-out fun. Normally film to movie games are a bit of a let down, there are usually annoying driving sections shoe-horned into numerous gadget ridden gametypes and none of these segments work.
Well, QoS presents James Bond without the numerous gadgets, there’s not a single car chase in sight, though, and those of you who remember the movie Casino Royale will get a sense of Bond-nostalgia as the game takes place at the end of Casino, during Quantum and during Casino again in some flashbacks. The story kicks off with a bang and from then on in you’re given a mix of action and some stealth, stealth is not mandatory however and if you feel you can take a greater challenge you can trip camera signals to your hearts content.
The game is powered by the Call of Duty 4 engine and has a cover system akin to Gears of War. Bond can take cover against a variety of objects, blind-fire and shoot with pin-point accuracy. He can dash from cover to cover effectively and move around corners without breaking cover. Lastly you can switch from side to side between gaps. The controls are intuitive and people familiar with Call of Duty 4 will soon feel right at home in this first person shooter.
The game switches (ala Rainbow Six Vegas 2) to a 3rd person camera in cover and when interacting with ladders, balance-beams (where you must make sure that Bond doesn’t tip over) and hand-to-hand take-downs.
Bond can also disarm and sneak-attack enemies, there are several ways to do this. Moving in a slow crouched position will allow 007 to get the drop on the bad guys, click in the right stick and press the indicated button in time and you’ll take them out of the fight in a dynamic context-sensitive action depending on a few variables. If you’re close enough and you’re not crouched, you can still click in the right stick to perform a take-down move in the same way.
Finally, if you sprint at an enemy it gives you the opportunity to take them down as well in a similar manner. Except that there’s no need to click the right stick, you just need to press the correct button.
The game is short, there’s probably around 8 hours play on the easiest setting and a little longer if you play on the hardest. What is delivered however is highly polished and a great deal of fun with each mission bringing with it a new challenge, whether it’s chasing down the bomber from Casino Royale or sneaking through an Opera House to eavesdrop on a secret meeting, it’s all pulled off perfectly in theme and the controls/game mechanics make the game a pleasure to play. That is such a rarity for most film-to-game efforts.
There are objects in each environment that Bond can use to explosively dispatch his enemies, or trigger a small in-game event that sends a giant bell crashing down to crush a few bad-guys. Scattered throughout each level are cell-phones that contain information (listen for the ring-ring) and vital clues, these are also tied to an achievement (as always). There are cameras to patch in to, disable and a lock-hacking mini-game that is simple enough to perform.