Quantum of Solace PS3 Review

The last time we
saw a James Bond video game that tied into a movie was the release of The World
is Not Enough in November of 2000 and it wasn’t so hot. Since then there have
been a handful of very good games based on original Bond stories and then of
course there was an adaptation of From Russia with Love which once again fell a
little short of expectations. But now Bond is going through a reboot phase in
the movies, and with the license switching hands from EA to Activision, the
latest Bond game Quantum of Solace, has gone through some similar changes.

Being an
Activision property and a shooting game, it’s probably no surprise that the
game is built using the Call of Duty 4 engine but a lot of people were probably
wondering would the game transfer over well. Modern Warfare was all about being
in the boots of a soldier and being part of both a large military invasion
force and a special operations team. Bond is the other end of the spectrum. He’s
an intelligence officer, someone who works with more precision and under a
lower profile. He’s the scalpel to the army’s sledge hammer. And to Treyarch’s
credit, they’ve managed to make the two fit. Sure there are plenty of moments
throughout the course of the game, and most of Bond’s activities for that
matter, which erupt into full blown firefights. But when you’re playing
Quantum, you still get those instances where you have to think your way through
situations rather than running and gunning all the time.

The controls handle
almost exactly like Call of Duty which again goes back to Treyarch and
Activision using the same engine. Almost everything is identically mapped out
on the controller. There are a few small changes like the weapon switch has
been moved from the triangle button to L2. Instead triangle is now a jump
button. There’re a few other small changes, but nothing to disorienting. The
biggest difference is the inclusion of a cover system. Most of the objects in
the game like desks, walls, doorways, and so forth can be used to lean up
against for protection. When it’s available, you’ll see a button prompt telling
you to press the X button. From there it switches from the first-person
perspective to third-person. It feels a lot like the Rainbow Six: Vegas cover
system, but it’s implemented a little better.

Whether you’re
using blind fire or actually sticking your head out to aim, it controls a
little better and it just feels a little deeper. Say you’re against a desk and
you need to press on forward. When you move to the proper position, pressing
and holding the X button allows you to sprint forward to the next piece of
cover and automatically lean up against it without taking very much damage. The
only problem with the system is that you have to have your crosshairs lined up
with whatever you’re trying to hide behind and while most things work with the
system, there are a few objects in the various environments that do not use the
system. It takes a few tries to really get a grip, but once you’ve got it down,
it works nicely.

significant change is the use of melee attacks. Before, a press of the R3
button would have your soldier execute a slashing/stabbing attack. For Quantum,
Bond will grapple with the enemy for a few seconds during which a small icon
will appear on the bottom of the screen telling you to press one of the four
face buttons. If you press correctly, and within the allotted time, Bond will
execute a close-quarters combat manoeuvre to incapacitate his foe. It’s a
pretty cool improvement over the simple stabbing, the only problem is it gets
repetitive fast. There are only four takedowns when you’re standing face to
face with the enemy and four when you approach from behind. Most of them don’t
seem to fit the Bond persona either. There’s a lot of punching and headbutting,
but very few depict the hand-to-hand combat skills one would assume an agent as
accomplished as James Bond would possess. I would have liked to have seen more
Jason Bourne like precision strikes and grapples. Something that says this is a
very dangerous man. I will say this though, the knee to the head finisher is
pretty brutal in a cool kind of badass way.

The button
pressing quicktime events are also featured in several interactive cutscenes
throughout the game. When confronting certain boss characters, the game will
switch to a fight scene where icons will continually pop up at the bottom of
the screen. There are only a small handful of these sequences and they are about
a minute or two long, but it is nice to see this feature being used in what is
primarily a shooting game.

Unfortunately not
everything from the Call of Duty 4 engine transferred over so well. One of the
things Modern Warfare, in fact the Call of Duty series in general, has always been
known for is the realism of its weapons. Whether it’s the modern era of combat
or World War II, there was always an incredible attention to detail. In Quantum
of Solace, all the weapons have too much of an arcade feel to them. Shotguns
for example, are too powerful at longer ranges. Enemies who are fifteen feet
away are still getting killed from single shots. Grenades feel like they have
no weight to them. You throw one and the speed and path of the arc makes it
look like you just tossed a pebble. Then when they detonate, the explosion looks
more like a firecracker went off. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think the
weapon situation is terrible, but these little things make me wish Treyarch
would’ve paid a little more attention to these sorts of details, which brings
me to some of the new gameplay additions.

There are three
infiltration skills you’ll use throughout the game, lock picking, hacking into
camera feeds, and disabling cameras. Again these aren’t terrible features but
they lacked that same attention to detail. It felt like they were thrown in just
to add a little more depth to the game. Hacking into the camera systems
throughout the chapters seems like a good idea, but they never really provide
you with any useful information. You’re almost always better off making your
own observations and moving through the levels accordingly. I think part of the
reason why these seemed so tacked on has to do with the level design. Every
chapter has such a linear build to it. The only real choices you make are “do I
climb the ladder or take the stairs”. Instead I would have like to see multiple
paths set up so that you have to make real choices. You can take Route A but
you need to disable the security cameras as you go or you can take Route B but
you’ll have to pick several locks along the way. Something along those lines
would have added so much more depth and replayability.

Another of the big
blemishes on the single-player story mode is the story itself. While it says
Quantum of Solace on the cover, this game has about as much to do with Casino
Royale as it does with the sequel. Now I don’t have a problem with that since
the two are tied in together reasonably well, I do however have a problem with
the fact that this is an adaptation of two movies and yet the story mode only
lasts about six or seven hours. There is absolutely no excuse for that. What
makes it worse is that the cutscenes in between the chapters are almost
non-existent. Essentially all these clips are is something to occupy your time
while the next level is loading. That would be fine except there’s no
animation. All you get is a black communication screen with brightly coloured
fonts and borders. Usually there’s a conversation between Bond and M about what
took place in the previous chapter and what’s about to happen. Once the next mission
has been loaded though, you can skip ahead, but before you take control there
is a quick CG-animation. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t have extended the
mission intro clips into fuller cutscenes and used them in between the chapters
especially since they spent a lot of time really accurately detailing the look
of Daniel Craig as James Bond and used the actors from the movie to do proper

Thankfully the
story mode is only a small part of the game. Activison and Treyarch did manage
to include a fairly robust online multiplayer mode which, once again was almost
entirely based on the Call of Duty 4 multiplayer. A lot of the same game modes
are here including Deathmatch (Conflict), Team Deathmatch (Team Conflict), and Territory
Control. However Treyarch did manage to include several new modes that take
advantage of the James Bond world. Firstly there is Golden Gun which is a
free-for-all game which features (surprise, surprise) a golden gun. Along with
that, there are two modes which allow a player in the group to assume the role
of James Bond. Bond Versus has 007 facing off against up to six members of “The
Organization” by himself. The player controlling Bond has two lives instead of
one, can see his enemies on the radar at all times, and is able to use any
weapon set. Members of The Organization only have access to three very basic
sets. The object of the game for Bond is to defuse two of three bombs planted
throughout the level or kill all his enemies. In turn The Organization must
either kill Bond twice or prevent him from defusing the bombs within the time

The final mode is
called Bond Evasion. This game mode plays very similarly to VIP games where
MI-6 faces off against The Organization with one player on MI-6 controlling
James Bond. The object of this game for MI-6 is to escort Bond to a spot on the
map designated as a safezone. The Organization must prevent this either by
waiting for the time to run out or killing 007. Either team may also win by
eliminating all of their opponents.

Another aspect of
the multiplayer that is largely similar to that of Call of Duty 4’s is the
weapons and equipment setup. Once again you’ll have the ability to create
custom configurations which consist of one primary weapon, one secondary
weapon, a single grenade type and two gadgets. Gadgets are Quantum’s version of
perks and with the exception of those that deal with you hiding behind cover,
nearly all the gadgets available are identical to those in COD4 though they
have different names. Now looking at the weapon configurations, there are
several things that were reduced. Firstly you only have two gadgets slots open
instead of three perks. The lost space would have likely been for the Tier 1
perks since there is no 3x Frags, or 2x RPG’s. Some like Bandolier are still
here but they got grouped in with the others which brings me to one of the
positives. Rather than having specific perks grouped separately, Quantum has
everything on one list which means instead of having to choose between
Juggernaut and Stopping Power, you can have both in one configuration which
partly makes up for having less gadgets.

Of course the
biggest difference comes in the form of how you unlock new weapons, upgrades,
and gadgets. Based on your performance, you’ll earn money or credits rather
than experience points. As a result, instead of having to wait until you have
reached a specific level to unlock a certain item, you can simply buy it when
you’ve made enough money. However the biggest downside to this is it can throw
off the balance of using certain weapons with specific upgrades. Playing Modern
Warfare, you only had the option of using one unlocked upgrade per weapon. If
you selected a silencer, it kept you from appearing on the radar when you fired
your weapon, but it came at the cost of having to use the basic iron sights.
Conversely if you chose to equip a scope, you were unable to use a silencer.
There was a balance. With Quantum, if you’ve earned enough money, you can buy
both and equip both which I feel takes away some of the skill level necessary
to wield these weapons.

While it is the
first Bond game to be published by Activision, Quantum of Solace is still only
a decent adaption. Most of what makes this game good stems from the fact that’s
it’s built on the foundations of a much better game and pretty almost all of
the problems boil down to a lack of polish and creativity. The game ties-in
well with both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace and you’ll have moments
where you really feel like Bond, but there’s just not enough originality to
make you feel like you’re playing anything more than a Call of Duty 4 variant.
From then on it’s only a matter of time before you pop Modern Warfare back into
your system.

 Overall Score: 7/10

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