Never has a title been more apt. Quantum of Solace is but a quantum of the movie; of the 15 stages only five are from Bond’s latest. The other ten are Casino Royale moments. From the outset Quantum has been sold on the strength of combat options. Want to creep through enemy-infested locales breaking necks and pulling off silenced PPK headshots in true GoldenEye fashion? Be Bond’s guest. Want to storm in with an arsenal nicked from COD4? He’s happy to oblige.
Nice of Treyarch to put on such a comprehensive murder platter, but none of it’s that appetizing. Silently aerating a skull from five feet is fun, but stealth is confined to specific moments; scripted encounters denying you the pleasure of clearing out an entire level with 15 bullets. Stealth is insultingly easy, too. When the enemy hoards do arrive, the game becomes Call of Duty-lite, albeit with a cover system straight out of Rainbow Six Vegas. The guns may hit with the punch of COD’s life-enders – enemies even flash with the same white crosses – but enemies are programmed with a strange breed of cowering AI that turns fights into a turkey shoot for any seasoned FPS fan.
Stick to cover and the AI makes more sense, lobbing grenades to flush you out and attempting flanking maneuvers. It also allows Treyarch to show off their creepy Bond model, a waxy version of Daniel Craig kitted out with the roving eyes of a madman. Saying that, actor likenesses and voices do keep the filmic quality up. If only the combat was less rigid; there’s very little GoldenEye experimentation to discover.
What playfulness Bond lacks in gunplay, he makes up for in globe-trotting. From stalking in a Prague opera house to the casino in Montenegro to a striking finale in an eco-hotel, Quantum blows raspberries at COD: World at War. Sadly, some locations are wasted on gimmicky film re-enactments: the building site chase and a poisoned stumble through Casino Royale are piffling two-minute distractions. This was the perfect opportunity to finally break the curse of GoldenEye. Alas, digital Brosnan remains the king by some distance.
Nov 5, 2008