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Quantum of Solace

Score: 65%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Action/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

It's always sad when the highest praise of a game falls into this category. Nothing would thrill us more than a Bond game that played good while looking good, but in this case, we'll have to settle for the latter only. The mystique behind Bond is almost something that can be bottled and sold like MSG at this point. For fun, go read the book Kingsley Amis wrote on Bond and you'll get the idea; the brand behind Bond jumped the shark almost from the beginning, showing a secret agent that Ian Fleming never was, living a lifestyle that was unsustainable by any person for a month, much less a few years.

Quantum of Solace for Wii is right on the money in its presentation of the Bond flair, showcasing action-packed cut scenes, dialogue dripping with energy, and staging across each level that goes a long way toward making the player feel he or she is in a Bond movie. The examples include placing enemies in ways that cause them to fall dramatically when shot, or rigging awesome, well-placed effects in Bond's surroundings that are triggered by his shots. Sound effects are perfectly placed and recreated, from the stutter of machine-gun pistols to thundering explosions. Music notches up during tense scenes and bridges cut scenes that play out between pivotal areas in each level. These things definitely immerse you in the game, until you're jerked out violently by some chronic missteps in the way this thing plays. We'll probably never know how much of the issues are due to overreaching the Wii's capabilities, trying to recreate what the more advanced Xbox 360 and PS3 pull off with ease. It isn't that these are the worst graphics on the Wii, but this is certainly the worst way to experience the videogame version of Quantum of Solace.


Gameplay:

The upside of this release of Quantum of Solace is that it doesn't skimp on multiplayer. Playing with friends or strangers will ultimately be the only thing that keeps this game on your shelf. The Single Player game is too buggy and inconsistent to really hold your attention, and it's gone before you can blink. The Multiplayer maps are cool and the A.I. is obviously cooler than what is programmed into Single Player. The mechanics of Quantum of Solace actually make more sense when playing against other players, where they feel overdesigned in much of the solo campaign. The greatest surprise for players that haven't spent much time on Wi-Fi with games like this for Wii is how smoothly everything plays, and how close this experience is to what your friends have enjoyed on other consoles to a far greater extent.

Quantum of Solace isn't trying to be "the game of the movie," but there is an unmistakable stamp on this game from the past two films with Daniel Craig. The Bond you play here is brutal and driven, which sometimes makes this feel as much like an adrenaline-charged action title as an FPS. There's very little tactical action in Quantum of Solace, with just a few missions that include a significant amount of stealth. The true reason for this may lie in the poor controls implemented, but more on that later... Instead of slipping through dark corridors, you'll spend a lot of time dashing from one piece of cover to another, Gears of War style. This will make action fans happy, but only until they actually get their hands on Quantum of Solace. The controls are largely unresponsive and the mechanics for hitting cover and moving around are inconsistent. Luckily, the A.I. also inconsistent and allows you in most cases to run out from cover shooting wildly and take them all out.

Some interesting elements that pop up during play are breaks from straight shooting action to fight in close quarters, where you'll have to time button presses that trigger special combat moves, again a derivative element from action games like Tomb Raider, which probably borrowed the move from God of War in the first place. There are lots of weapons to pick up in the game, some from enemies and others stashed away in a level waiting to be discovered. You'll find that progress through the entire solo campaign is paced all wrong, showing you the credits when you're really just warming up. Luckily, you can adjust the difficulty and play through again. The dealbreaker for us came from glitches throughout Quantum of Solace that, at best, cause you to die and restart from your last checkpoint. At worst, these glitches froze our system or put us into a perpetual loop that made it impossible to progress, quit, or save. Nobody faced with these issues is likely to put up with what already appears to be a problem child.


Difficulty:

The word "uneven" brings to mind unbalanced scales or maybe a match-up between two unlikely contestants in some sporting match. Gamers have come to know the word means they'll be laughing one moment and crying the next, thanks to programmed A.I. with a mind of its own... We know that sounds redundant, but in Quantum of Solace, there is A.I. and there is crAze-I... Some enemies will just run around in circles near you, waiting to be conveniently plugged in the head and put out of their misery. Others will hang back, take cover, and shoot mercilessly at you with pinpoint accuracy. As much as we love seeing enemies use cover, move position, and shoot well, it doesn't make up for the other weird dudes. The close-up action and takedowns using the timed button press mechanic breaks the flow of the game, pulling you out of what you may come to feel is an acceptable level of control. We'd argue that brands like Medal of Honor or even Brothers in Arms have nailed these things on the platform to a far greater extent. Jumping in levels doesn't work well; it's tempting to say that the intention was for jumps to be prompted and then executed with one push of a button, instead of the try-and-die model actually implemented. If the overriding emotion that comes out of Quantum of Solace is pain, at least it draws from the "just yank off that band-aid" school by taking hardly any time out of your life. Difficulty in the Multiplayer mode is really a function of who gets on the line with you to play, which again makes it a far more compelling experience than anything else here.

Game Mechanics:

To think that I actually considered buying a Wii Zapper to play this! I'm a big Bond fan from way back, and the idea of controlling Bond in a great FPS was making me giddy with anticipation. The final assessment on controls is that there's virtually no advantage to using the Wii Zapper for Quantum of Solace, other than looking a bit cooler. There are probably some tighter turns made using the Wii Zapper, thanks to a smaller, more consistent stance you adopt while using it. Unlike games such as Medal of Honor that strove for accuracy in controlling weapons like the rocket launcher and grenade, the Wii-mote and Nunchuk work in Quantum of Solace about like they would in any action or FPS game. Movement is keyed to the Nunchuk, at least for strafing and jumping. The (A) button serves double duty for running and taking cover, one of the smarter control choices in the game. The feeling of sprinting from one piece of cover to another is great, and the camera moves intuitively around Bond to showcase new objectives and enemies. There is a series of prompts as you reach the edge of a piece of cover that hardly ever work. Occasionally, you'll be able to hang behind the cover and take out enemies by popping up and sighting on them, but there are times you feel like you are literally bolted to a piece of cover. This is extremely inconvient when a crazy person is rushing you with a loaded gun. Pulling away from cover is easy, but there should have been more thought put into how some players would navigate from one section to another. Aiming with the Wii-mote is okay, but precision may have to be adjusted depending on your personal preference. The auto-targeting helps make things run more smoothly, and will quickly line up a kill on an enemy within your firing reticule.

Odd moves like assigning reload to the Nunchuk when movement and throwing a grenade is already assigned there makes for some awkward moments in Quantum of Solace. The problems mentioned earlier with glitchy areas in the game translate to the controls. The game is at its best when it takes control over basic functions like seeking cover and targeting, opening the door for a more approachable, user-friendly FPS experience. Trying to wear the cloak of a hard-core FPS falls flat for this console, and is implausible considering the poorly implemented A.I. Controls feeling muddy or glitchy are just the worm in the apple, and its a shame considering how nice that apple shines from the outside. We're big Bond fans from way back, and we'd love to like Quantum of Solace for Wii. The system needs more quality, adult action games, but this just doesn't pass muster.


-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

Sony PlayStation 2 The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga Sony PlayStation Portable The King of Fighters Collection: The Orochi Saga

 
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