Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Quantum of Solace (Videogame - The Quasi-Review, Part II)

The game uses the Call of Duty 4 engine and was made by Treyarch, the developers of Call of Duty 3 and World at War. So, the game controls just like Call of Duty -- with the welcome addition of a tight cover system, which is essential to a Bond game.

Even with these improvements, the game lacks that unquantifiable "it" that Goldeneye had. Everything here - the controls, the graphics, the sound, the A.I. - is solid, though never exceptional. When it works, it works damn well. But Quantum's one great failing is that it was obviously rushed out the door to match the release date of the movie. What's there is solid and well-made - there's just not very much of it.

The game runs no longer than five hours, even though it covers both Daniel Craig films. The story is fractured and woefully incomplete: if you haven't seen the movies, then you'll be unable to follow the game's story. Playing the game before I saw the Quantum of Solace movie, I was afraid of the game spoiling the movie's plot. With the exception of one twist near the beginning of the film, nothing is given away. All you get from the story is that there's a bad guy, he's doing bad things in a certain place, and you need to go there and kill some fools. That's pretty much any Bond story in a nutshell.

Here is a perfect example of what's wrong with this game, using a section of the game taken from Casino Royale to avoid spoilers about the new Bond movie. The game recreates two-thirds of the Madagascar chase scene - one of the best action scenes from the Bond franchise. In the first level of this sequence, you chase that jumpy bomb-maker guy from the town square to the construction site. The next level you chase him through the construction site, ending with you following him to his embassy. Both levels are well-made and extremely enjoyable, and you would assume that the next level would be the climatic shootout inside the embassy.

You would be wrong.  The game immediately cuts to Bond trailing another baddie in Miami, which is about a half-hour later in the movie, with a brief voiceover by Judi Dench recounting Bond's actions in the embassy while the game loads this level. This is one of several "what the fuck?" moments that makes you wonder where the other half of this game went, like it stepped out of your house in middle of the night to "go get some ice cream" and never came back. Whole levels were, I suspect, cut in order to meet the movie's release date.

I wish Treyarch had another few month's to finish the game, so it could've been released in time with the DVD. If Treyarch had recreated both Daniel Craig movies fully and completely, then Quantum of Solace might have been one of the best shooters of the year. As it is, it's just pretty good. I bought it, but I paid thirty bucks for it, thanks to Gamefly. I can't recommend you spending more than that for this game, even if you're Bond fan.

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