System: Xbox 360
Release date: Available now
Review by: Ed Humphries
There will never be another Goldeneye. “James Bond Will Return” is the post-script that ends every Bond film (as well as Rare’s treasured 1998 N64 release), but the promise of another Goldeneye lives on only in dreams. This hasn’t stopped developers from trying to replicate the game’s success, however, with each successive adventure falling under the weight of the creaky 11-year old shooter. A burden that Bond’s latest outing, Quantum of Solace, must now bear.
Quantum of Solace, the film, makes history as the first true sequel in the movie series (after 2006’s Casino Royale), but the game distinguishes itself by drawing upon the plots and locations of both films. You take control of Bond as he works to bring down the mysterious organization QUANTUM and determine its involvement in the events that led to his lover’s demise. In turn, you get to play through a number of the action set pieces that dominate the films.
Built with the Call of Duty 4 engine, Quantum’s action unfolds in the familiar first-person perspective. While the game can be played as a run-and-gun shooter, the developers introduce a cover system that lends itself to stealthier play. The game then sends Bond across the globe, leading you to a number of visually diverse locations where you battle the forces of QUANTUM. A standard suite of online multiplayer modes rounds out the package.
While Quantum of Solace is a capable shooter, it truly excels at putting the player in Bond’s shoes. The cover system works wonders by shifting the view to the third person, where players are greeted with a spot-on likeness of actor Daniel Craig, who plays the superspy in the films. This helps sell the illusion. In a Bond game, we want to be James Bond. The developers do a nice job of adding variety to the gameplay, employing several stealth sequences, hacking minigames and a memorable interactive reenactment of the opening chase from Casino Royale.
Fortunately, the FPS genre has evolved since Goldeneye, but Quantum’s design harkens back to the early days of the shooter, sending you on a linear path. There is an excellent mix of locales, but the action is always the same, with enemies repeating canned reactions. While the minigames break things up, too many levels feel like more of the same. Quantum also ships with a lackluster online mode that cribs some of the customization options seen in Call of Duty (players earn credits for unlockables), but there’s no real innovation here.
A watered-down feeling brings about Bond’s downfall. Quantum of Solace is a capable shooter, but strip away the license and it’s as generic as they come. Goldeneye earned its stripes by being the first fun console shooter, but the problem with Quantum is that it wants to be all things at once: a successor to Goldeneye and a Call of Duty clone with a killer license. Don’t worry – “James Bond Will Return.” Maybe next time he’ll leave us shaken and stirred.