Believe it or not there was actually some hope for the Quantum of Solace game – a possible light at the end of the tunnel which hinted that maybe, just maybe, this wouldn’t be the feeble movie cash-in we were all expecting.
Unfortunately, that light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be a man with a flame thrower running in our direction. Followed by a high-speed train. All hope for Quantum of Solace is instantly demolished the moment you start the game and see what it looks like and how it plays.
Let’s be clear then. This is a game being developed by a studio with a reputation which, while not exactly sparkling (see Call of Duty 3), isn’t irreparably damaged. It’s built on a proven, modern engine and the team behind the game has had full access to the cast of the high-budget, Sony-backed film the game is based on. It has no excuses for looking this bad, but it does so anyway.
It’s looking bad for Quantum of Solace from the off in fact. Before you even get into the game and are subjected (subjected!) to the ultra low quality and heavily compressed cutscenes you’re faced with a grimy-looking menu with more holes in it than substance.
You’re made to sign up to Windows Live! before you’re allowed to really start playing (if you want to save your game anyway) too – and we’ve never known that to be a good sign. If anything, it’s an omen of future ills.
Once the game starts the graphics don’t get any better either and while it may be callous and shallow to focus on the graphics so much at this early stage of the review, we’re kind of forced to. The game looks that bad. It’s all washed out and static with no option to even tweak the gamma in-game. The environments are staid, bland, flat and dull. There are fancy effects like depth of field but they’re over-used and badly implemented, proving useful only for hiding the tragic case of ugliness that has infected Bond’s usually very pretty world.
Sigh. But we’ll come to all that in due course, we suppose. For now let’s focus on the story and the gameplay.
Quantum of Solace may sound like its just a tie-in for the latest film, but in reality it’s much, much worse than that. It’s a tie-in for both films, with the highlights and imaginary additions to the plot of Casino Royale getting explained in flashbacks.
The game actually starts where Casino Royale ends though, with Bond capturing the mysterious Mr White and bringing him in for some rather brutal question. Bond, all chewed up and dying inside after the death of Vesper Lynd, is out for revenge and blood. He brings Mr White in for questioning after a ferocious car chase.
Or that’s what happens in the film at least. In the game, instead of having a chase sequence White summons a few hundred men to swarm Bond as he...apparently slinks off somewhere and calls for a helicopter. Instead of just grabbing White and running, Bond proceeds to slaughter hundreds of people, steals some files from the White’s safe and then burns down the entire mansion.
Thus, one more guiding principle of computer games is gloriously upheld; in any James Bond computer game you will inevitably kill more people in the first level than die in the entire film it is based on.