GC 2008: Quantum of Solace Preview
Written Friday, August 29, 2008 By Geoff WhiteView author's profile
The Bond series had its greatest curse as well as its greatest highlight when Rare released Goldeneye on the N64 way back in 1997 (yes it really is that long ago!). The game was the best of its time, and many of us still hold it highly due to the nostalgic multiplayer experiences we had.
However, since then the series has failed to have a decent success story. The games have never matched the magic that Goldeneye captured. When Treyarch were given the reigns for the latest Bond game, Quantum of Solace, few people had high hopes for the game. When you factor the record of movie tie-ins along with Treyarch’s Call of Duty 3, things looked bleak. Yet with the COD4 engine, there is always hope.
I’ll be honest, after what I saw at E3 I was excited by this game. So it was with a mixture of nerves and hope that I went to play Quantum of Solace at Leipzig. Luckily for me, the nerves soon went out the window and I felt the Bond fanboy side of me begin to smile.
The first thing you notice in the title are the character details and the voice talent present throughout the game. They are spectacularly accurate thanks to the use of full facial scans of all the cast and adding such likenesses and licenses to the game is a pretty mean feat considering Daniel Craig originally declined the offer to be in the game, until he had played through some of it. After that, he signed on the dotted line. So we know he approves it at least. Not surprising when you see his character and the piercing blue eyes.
After that, you’ll notice the clarity of the levels. They are all in glorious high def, and look very refined and detailed. At the back of your mind there’s something eating away at you... There is something almost familiar about it. Then it clicks ... your brain is making this feel like a modern Goldeneye. I don’t know if they can add to the retail price for that feeling, but if they could then many people would pay through the roof, myself included.
The game has added a superb cover system onto the engine, and it works well. You run up to any wall and press A to crouch. You can then aim round the corner and pop out of cover to shoot before crouching back into safety. However, the new AI will soon flush you out with a well aimed grenade or by flanking you. So you need to adapt and change cover often. This is simply done by aiming at the next wall you want to use, and then holding A will get Bond to dash behind it. You can make quick and easy progress through an area just like Bond would in the movies.
The levels we saw were based in Sienna, where Bond is chasing someone through a series of tunnels and then it breaks in to a series of gunfights on the roof. It gave a great look at how Bond is more ‘athletic’ this time, and how easy the controls are. Anyone that has played COD4 will be instantly at home.
We also got to explore the two different styles of Bond. You can sneak through the level hiding in the shadows, taking down people silently and monitoring their movements by tapping into the security cameras. Or you can go out guns blazing, and shooting at everything. There will be times when both styles are called for, and the AI will react differently to each one. The AI has had a much needed overhaul, and now there are actually signs of ‘intelligence’. An example of this was demonstrated in the shooting of a security camera. When the guard monitoring the cameras got back to his desk and realised the camera was out, he went out to look at the camera. This then triggered the guards to up their alert status from a green ‘low’ alert to an orange ‘middle’ alert, and accordingly, they become twitchy and change their patrol patterns.
It’s always going to be hard for a game to beat a predecessor with the reputation that Goldeneye has, but Quantum of Solace is certainly in with a good shout. I believe that the single player is a better experience, offers better gameplay, has better AI and hopefully a better storyline (although no tank chases in this game!). However, where Goldeneye captured fans wasn’t in single player mode, it was its distinctive multiplayer. Whether Quantum can live up to this remains to be seen, but with the engine it’s on, you have to believe that it has a very, very good chance of this. Like Daniel Craig brought in a new edgy Bond, we hope Treyarch can bring in a new edgy Bond game, and make the most of the potential to take the world’s best secret agent back to the top of the video games chart.