What Treyarch has proven on the first level of Quantum of Solace
– that it has nothing but a complete disregard for the source material – is something that quickly becomes a theme for the game.
There isn’t a single level or section of the game that hasn’t been irreparably altered or changed and, while that’s understandable and forgiveable to a degree, Treyarch goes way beyond the acceptable level. The developer seems determined to have pushed the body count as high as possible in an attempt to make the game fun...and in the process it has missed the point.
The point is that the Bond franchise isn’t about having lot of people die – it’s about accomplishing your objectives as stylishly as possible. Treyarch has instead opted for the generic shooter approach, with Bond mowing down thousands of identi-clone baddies in a row as he runs through the levels.
The points that the game and movie converge on get increasingly ludicrous too. In the film Bond tries to spy on Le Chiffre in the hotel and ends up caught in a stairwell sword fight. In the game this happens too, but then Bond goes on a rampage and literally destroys the entire Monte Negro hotel; shooting out chandeliers and blowing up randomly placed explosive barrels.
In some regards this wouldn’t be so bad since we all love a good shoot-em-up, but it isn’t even done well. The levels are the most blurry, mediocre and inimical type of non-interactive designs. Nearly all the doors in the game are dead ends that Bond won’t even attempt to interact with. Plate glass takes several point blank rounds to shatter – and even then a lot of the time it doesn’t shatter, just disappears.
What actions you can do are dull and predictable. Simple electronic locks can be hacked using your phone using a trite little minigame, while security cameras can be shut off or taken control using the power junctions which are never more than a few steps away.
The frustrating thing is though that at times it feels like Treyarch is stepping along the right lines, edging close to the ground trod by wholly superior Spy-em-up No One Lives Forever
. Just when you think the game is on to something good though, like when it has you clearing a building of snipers or taking control of a camera system, the bland-o-matic returns and wrenches control away. O-ho, it’s back to shooty-shooty land it seems then!
Not that the shooting is all bad though. The combat may be totally mediocre in terms of presentation, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fluid and fast paced. Going for headshots with your silenced P-99 is still kind of fun, even if the game design forces you to rely more on assault rifles and grenade launchers as the game goes on.
The cover system for the game was another pleasant surprise as it works remarkably well for a game that is played mostly in the first person. While Bond runs around the linear, artefact-ridden hallways in the first person perspective most of the time, the view quickly switches to third person when you want to drop into cover. Bond can find cover most anywhere and is able to easily jump from one shield to another, or make a running dash. Plus, when he’s in cover he can fire blindly to suppress charging enemies.
Still, what really lets the gameplay down is the sheer lack of variation, immersion and graphical polish in the game. Aside from slaying the swathes all there really is to do is pick up the six or so mobile phones on each level – each of which conveniently rings when you get near, so you can’t exactly miss them.
After collecting and completing enough of the game, you unlock an interactive set of concept art and in-game models from the game that you can view in the MI6 briefing rooms. At first we kind of liked this feature and the way we could wander around, looking at things. Unfortunately, each briefing room is almost identical and houses only two or three utterly boring bits of info in startling low-res. There really isn’t much joy to be had from viewing a floating gun with the notation “ATTACHMENTS: Laser, Silencer”.