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James Bond - Quantum Of Solace: A Review

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Publisher: Activision
Developer: Treyarch
Internode Content: http://games.on.net/app/4103/James_Bond_Quantum_of_Solace
More Screenshots: http://www.xfire.com/screenshots/thetones2301/
Full Review (Including Screenshots): http://games.on.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=187&t=159988

The Review:
First Impression:
The first time I heard about this game I immediately dismissed it as another one of those money making piles of crap. To be shunned and outcast to the underworld of gaming where it can plot revenge with the likes of Transformers: The Game and the Iron Man game! But after a dry streak of enjoyable fps I decided I should give it a go. I downloaded the demo, loaded it up and well the rest you’ve probably guessed, as here I am writing a review on it! I promptly grabbed myself a copy of it and didn’t stop playing til it was all over.

Gameplay:
Upon loading up the demo I noticed something very familiar. The game was built in the Call Of Duty 4 engine which was a very nice surprise, as I, along with most of the gaming community realise that it’s one of the best game experiences, as a whole, you can get these days. The graphics are pretty, it runs beautifully, its smooth, clean and very enjoyable, in both single player and multiplayer. Quantum of Solace was made by Treyarch which are known for their Call Of Duty 3 flop but with their most recent attempt, Call Of Duty: World At War, they played it a bit safer sticking to the very nice CoD 4 setup and basically creating a new campaign in it and creating historic weapons and maps for this campaign and hence multiplayer. This is also very similar to what they did with Quantum of Solace but this time, they have made quite a few significant changes.

After grabbing a copy of the full game, and starting it up, these changes became apparent very quickly. Now I would be here all day if I gave a detailed explanation of every cool 007 feature in this game, so instead I’ll just give a brief run through of the first level as it introduces you to some of the games new features.
First off there’s the cover system. It’s very similar to Gears of War, fluid, easy and very handy. Then you’re exposed to the hacking mini-game, used to get past certain locked doors. This is quite simple but as you play more, you realise it isn’t used very often so its simplicity never gets old. Then you find out about the ‘Take Down’ a unique addition to melee that involves a little aiming-mini game after which they go down just like when knifed in CoD 4. This is quite nice, a lot more rewarding then in CoD 4 and looks a lot cooler. Later on in the game that same aiming mini game is used in action cut scenes in place of ‘QuickTime’ events, which is again very nice.
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You continue on and are instructed to kill multiple enemies at once by destroying explosive canisters, this is quite simple as anything explosive gets slight shimmer, and it looks very cool and is quite handy. Once this is done you’re introduced to your mobile phone. Its initial screen is a mini-map, showing you walls, doors, security cameras and enemies as well as your current objective. It is very handy information when sneaking around. You can then switch to a page showing you your data for the mission. Initially this is just your mission briefing but as you proceed through levels you can pick up phones which have useful pieces of information, security locations, special weapon locations, and hints about certain explosive items that can be used to wipe out enemies. Then the next and final page shows you your live camera feeds, on many of the missions you will have the opportunity, using the phone, to patch into security systems. This is then displayed on this page of your phone, so that no matter where you are you can keep your eye on things, see people sneaking behind you or plan out your silent take down of enemies.
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As you can gleam from that one paragraph this isn’t just a simple re-skin of CoD 4, while it uses CoD’s engine it is definitely a game in its own right. There are quite a few more features you use after the first level but let’s leave it at that. In the end though, a game can’t be judged solely on the ‘amount’ of features, because all games have features, unique things that are always hyped as being the greatest thing since sliced bread. But how these all come together is the important thing. The combination of all these things that gives you that feeling of, wow, or yuck, is really what matters in the end. And in this department QoS has it mastered, the more you go through the game the more you feel like you really are the notorious 007. Stealth is probably the highlight in QoS for me, it’s not crazy complex, but still very enjoyable, popping up your phone, using the mini-map and the camera’s to monitor patrols, then putting your plan into action. Running in dodging the security camera to disable it at its power box (another unique game play feature) then sneaking up behind an enemy to take him down, taking cover, then aiming around the corner and taking another patrol down with a silenced headshot, running in and disabling the last security camera. Then standing up to survey your work and thinking “wow, I own,” which is the nicest feeling you can get from playing a game. In summary then, there are lots of different elements to how you play your character, lots of little things, too many to list here but the important point is that all of these culminate to create a brilliant 007 experience.
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While the actual playing gives you a brilliant 007 experience, unfortunately, some of the other game play elements of the game aren’t up to such standards. The storyline in the game seems very bland, it follows the movie almost exactly, and half way through Quantum of Solace you play a massive flashback scene which is basically all of Casino Royale. This was great, extra game play is always nice and for people who haven’t seen the movie, it is necessary to find out what happens in Casino Royale to understand Quantum of Solace. But the cut scenes often seem like just a half assed way of joining together all the big fights throughout the two movies. The majority are in the Mi6 computer interface style, as you can see below, with pictures and footage popping up and narration from M and Tanner. These tend to be quite brief, which is better than dragging on, but as stated above, they feel like a half assed way of just joining up big fights. The cut scenes mid level are better, depicting some real James Bond action. Some are done in the game engine and there are a few that aren’t. The ones that are pre-rendered don’t look all that good at all, this shows in the shot of James Bond below, looks nothing like him, whereas the in-game engine version looks spot on. The cars seem to have low detail, movement is awkward and car scenes look ridiculous with unnatural pathing of the cars. It’s not all bad though, the gamer participation in big fights (such as when Bond fight’s Mitchell, the sleeper agent and falls through the glass onto scaffolding etc..) is done with the already mentioned aiming mini-game. This works really well, it’s rewarding and takes skill but isn’t annoying like reactionary QuickTime events used by most other games. This is what keeps the storyline aspect afloat in QoS, you take part in pretty much all of the ‘cool’ 007 scenes, which means that cut scenes are just for the background information or mission reasoning. The only bits you can’t take part in are the car scenes, which as said above are generally all pre-rendered, this is a pity but understandable as the CoD 4 engine has no way of handling this and so the exclusion of this meant more refined first person action!
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Just to finish off on the game play, a quick note about the length of the game. It was pretty short, but no shorter then CoD 4 in terms of actual game play. The real difference is in the difficulty, I played it on agent which is equivalent to Cod 4’s hardened in their scheme but it seemed much much easier. This leads to only 5-6 hours of game play which seems short, but keep in mind that CoD 4 on easy is only a 3 hour game. So it’s more about getting the difficulty right, I normally play Cod on hardened, then again on veteran. But with QoS I think the difficulties are all a notch easier so try to adjust for that and you should get more like 9-10 hours out of it.

Controls:
Due to the use of the previously mentioned Cod 4 engine, the games control setup is good. There have just been keys added for the various additions in QoS. These controls all worked well, some may wish to change them, and as expected this is easy and hassle free. The mouse control is great, smooth and nice just like CoD 4. I was never restricted in game play by controls and never died because of unnatural controls so in the end their as good as you’ll ever need.

Graphics:
Once again, due to the use of the CoD 4 engine the graphics are pretty. In QoS you spend more time in houses, or buildings, or boats and are rarely outdoors. This means that some of the graphics look a bit bland, the textures are a bit simple and the effects are simple to. But there’s nothing wrong with that in the end, the game still looks nice, and it runs fully maxed out with ease, with no stuttering at all. Its runs very smoothly which imo is more important that a crazy looking game. The environments are all very varied, I don’t think any map looks the same as any other map which is great; you never ever get bored of it. The detail in the guns is great which is important as you are playing a 007 game in the end. The npc’s in the game look very nice too, not photo realistic but the resemblance to their actors is very good, and in the end, the familiarity is what’s important here and they’ve done that very well. All in all a pretty game that runs very nicely, so no problems there.
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System Requirements:
OS: Windows XP/Vista
Processor: Pentium 4 @ 2.4 GHz/AMD Athlon XP 64 2800+/Any Dual Core Processor @ 1.8 GHz
Memory: 512 MB (1 GB for Vista)
Video Memory: 128 MB (nVidia GeForce 6600/ATI Radeon 9800 Pro)
Sound Card: DirectX Compatible
DirectX: 9.0c or 10
Keyboard & Mouse
DVD Rom Drive
As you can seen from these system requirements the game can run on any gaming machine out there, and always look good. So a thumbs up on that one!

Audio:
Nothing too special in the audio department, it sounds good, the positional audio is as good as any other game these days. The explosions have a lot of bass which is nice. The voices are good, same voice actors as the films so that’s good, makes it feel much more real to life. The music is also good, not crazy swarms of the James Bond theme, some typical 007 music and then every so often when things heat up you get the typical theme that we all know, which works.

Multiplayer:
Given the huge popularity of CoD 4 on the multiplayer scene I thought I would add a little note about QoS multiplayer. I haven’t played much multiplayer, just a couple of games with my girlfriend so I can’t say much but just a few things I noted. The LAN capabilities are nice, BUT unlike Cod 4 and Cod WaW the ranking system appears to have been removed from LAN. This is a pity as I found the levelling to be one of the best features of CoD 4 mp, the one that made it the most popular game at my little LANs. From what I can gather ranks are still in when played online via Games for Windows Live, but that’s another negative, I don’t really like this whole Games For Windows Live setup, I’ve had to many save game problems and program crashes due to it to like it at this point but nonetheless it’s there. From the look I had with LAN, there seem to be quite a few interesting game modes and quite a few maps, so it looks to have a decent mp component.

Game play: - 9/10 - Would’ve been a perfect score if not for the lacking cut scenes and relatively short game play, but nonetheless excellent game play.
Controls: - 9/10 - Nothing really special here, but the mouse handles well which is more than some games have these days.
Graphics: – 8/10 – It’s quite a pretty game, its runs flawlessly and the levels are incredibly varied.
Audio: – 8/10 – Decent audio quality, good positional audio, nice bass on the explosions, great voice acting and very nice use of the 007 theme.
Multiplayer: – 8/10 – Just as good as CoD 4 when played online, if not better with some interesting game modes, but the lack of ranking in LAN is quite a disappointment for me.

Overall: - 8.4/10 – A very enjoyable game, one of the more enjoyable fps’s I’ve played in a while, has a few flaws but that’s not gonna stop me from opening it up again as soon as I’m done and playing it on 007, probably straight through without getting up again :D

Other Reviews by Me:
Rise Of The Argonauts - http://games.on.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=188&t=159627

James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace

James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace (PC)

Genre/Style: Shooter/First-Person Shooter
Release Date: 04/NOV/08
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