Quantum of Solace Xbox 360
Published by: Activision
Developed by: Treyarch
Release Date: Out Now
Ever since the release of GoldenEye 007 on the Nintendo 64 it's been difficult for any James Bond game to be fully accepted. Every new 007 game simply gets put down because it isn't as good as GoldenEye. Times have changed quite a lot since 1997 and in truth there have been quite a few FPS games that have surpassed Rare's eleven year-old game, particularly if we're counting PC games. The real problem is that you're fighting against nostalgia and whilst it's easily feasible that a James Bond FPS can be as good, if not better than GoldenEye 007, it's practically impossible for a new FPS title to have the same impact. Quantum of Solace is up against it then, even before people have taken the wrapping off the case.
After an introduction like that you're probably expecting me to say that Quantum of Solace is a great game. In truth, it isn't a great game but it's certainly a good one and one that James Bond fans will enjoy however, it certainly has its share of problems. To begin with, the game has hardly anything in common with the latest Bond movie of the same name. Actually it has quite a lot in common with the previous Bond movie, the remake of Casino Royale. Some will feel misled by this and I certainly would feel disappointed by the deception. As far as deaf gamers are concerned however, there are bigger problems. Treyarch are developers who have a history of not subtitling their games. The awful Minority Report and Spider-Man: The Movie are just two of their previous titles which did not include subtitles (although they did subtitle Call of Duty 3). Unfortunately Quantum of Solace is also not subtitled and it's tough to recommend the game to those who want to be fully aware of what's going on.
As an FPS Quantum of Solace is quite enjoyable, although it's all too brief. The single-player campaign lasts around five hours (of course the length is dependent on the difficulty setting you play on) and for the most part you'll be doing the things you usually do in an FPS. The game does encourage you to make good use of cover whenever possible as there are times when you simply won't survive should you take the all guns blazing approach. The game also has its fair share of quick time events (the God of War style sequences where you have to press or mash the appropriate buttons within a specified time). These occur at specific times and you can even trigger them yourself by performing stealth close-quarter attacks. The game definitely encourages you to take a stealthy approach and there are times when it's in your interest to simply avoid being detected. I suppose the real problem with the single-player game, aside from the length, is that it mostly feels like you are playing a straightforward FPS rather than being a spy.
The multiplayer modes in Quantum of Solace are decent but it's disappointing that they can only be played over Xbox Live or System Link. The game offers no local multiplayer at all and that's a real shame. The multiplayer modes are a mix of the traditional and the Bond themed, such as Golden Gun. The number of modes on offer is good but aside from the Bond themed modes, there's little here to interest those who've been spending the last year playing Call of Duty 4 or Team Fortress 2.
Quantum of Solace isn't a great looking game by any means. Yes it's the best looking Bond game to date but that's entirely down to the game being the first on the current generation of consoles. The character models look rather basic (and most of the enemies all look alike), the animations are stilted and the frame rate isn't always as good as it should be. There are some mediocre explosion effects which is unfortunate. The damage modelling is also rather middling. The game certainly bears all the hallmarks of a multi-platform title and in no way appears to take advantage of the Xbox 360 hardware.
As we mentioned earlier, Quantum of Solace isn't a game you would regard as being deaf gamer friendly thanks to the absence of subtitles. As a result you'll be oblivious to most of the dialogue in the game. Prior to a mission you will see some of what's being said as some, but not all, of dialogue is shown on the transcripts. Any communications you receive during a mission and the game's cutscenes are not subtitled. It's not a total disaster however as text mission briefings can be recalled at any time during a mission. Tutorial messages are shown in text and your objectives are shown in text. Objectives can be recalled at any time by pressing the back button. Your progress is saved at specific checkpoints and you are notified in text when you reach one. On the whole it's a poor experience for deaf gamers. Whilst it's still possible to play through the game, you'll be unaware of the storyline for the most part.
Quantum of Solace is certainly one of the better Bond games in recent times and 007 enthusiasts will certainly get a kick out of what the game has to offer. You never really get a sense that you're playing as a James Bond type character for most of the game however and for most of the time it simply feels like a regular FPS. The problem is as an FPS it fails to stand out at a time of year where quality FPS titles aren't in short supply. The decision not to include a local multiplayer experience seems a strange one and the mediocre Xbox Live and System Link options certainly aren't as appealing as the brief single-player experience.