2008 Reviews

007: Quantum of Solace

  • Review Date: 2012-03
  • Release Date: 2008-10
  • Developer: Treyarch
  • Rating: 6.5

No less than five diferent developers worked on this game, so it's no surprise that's it's a short, rushed and a bit unfocused. Treyarch were the main developers of the game. Short rundown of Treyarch - the studio was merged with Gray Matter in 2005. Treyarch has created dozens of games, but almost all sports games. Nothing in the shooting market until the merge with Gray Matter. Gray Matter began life as Xatrix Entertainment whose first games were Redneck Rampage, a Quake 2 mission pack and Kingpin. All entertaining games in the 90's. As Gray Matter they created Return to Castle Wolfenstein which was one of the best first person shooters at the beginning of the new millenium. So Gray Matter is a decent force in the shooter market - they have a good idea of what makes a good game. Once merged with Treyarch they set upon the Call of Duty franchise, sharing the duty mainly with Infinity Ward to flood the market with the same old realistic shooter every year.

Apart from a few forgettable Spiderman games, Quantum of Solace is the only other game outside of Call of Duty that Treyarch has developed since 2002. Did they thrive in a setting other than World War 2 or modern war settings? No.

Quantum of Solace would be five hours long at a stretch. There are fifteen levels spread across random real-life locations around the world, most featured in the movies. Some of which look pretty good. I can't fault the engine too much, despite it starting life as idTech 3 in 1999. Infinity Ward have kept the old thing ticking along and while the levels are still very linear and lack many impressive set pieces, it was still pretty enough to keep me satisfied. While Rise of the Argonauts was only worthwhile to play for it's fantasy-setting and beauty, Quantum of Solace is definitely not a game you're going to play for impressive visuals. But the same can be said for most realistic shooters like COD. They're played because people enjoy the gameplay.

Gameplay is typical cover-based duck-up-and-down between oddly placed obstacles over-and-over again. This was okay in Gear in War, but enough with it already; two years on and it's tired. But you're forced to use this method here because enemies' firepower can mow you down very quickly, especially if the enemies have numbers. It's easy to get caught off guard in Quantum of Solace, but fortunately the checkpoints are very close together so you usually never have to play much again from the last checkpoint. The guns are mostly pretty solid - you won't deviate much from rapid fire machine guns, but it's easy to hit enemies from a distance and they only take a few shots to kill. At least Treyarch know decent combat.

The game falls apart with the story, despite getting two fantastic movies to tell within one game - both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Treyarch drop the ball and we end up with the most difficult to follow story in any game I can remember. I've seen both the movies, but not in a few years. I think you'd have to watch both movies again to get a grip on what's going on and who the characters and enemies are in this game. It's not helped when the only method of telling focus is on voice conversations and cheap diagrams of Bond's GPS location or life stats in between levels. No proper cut-scene cinematics. Hell, Treyarch could have just pulled live scenes from the movies, or recreated them exactly within the game - at least that would have been something.

Apart from the piss poor attempt at telling a story, what are the other weaknesses? Nothing really; the design and looks are adequate, the gameplay fun enough. Five hours long could be considered a weakness but I was ready for it end when it did and move on to the next game anyway. Overall it's a just a okay shooter to keep you mildly entertained for an afternoon. Probably best to play in between multiplayer sessions of COD.