Bond, James Bond. That phrase - those three words - are enough to send a tingle up the spine of almost any self-respecting action movie fan. It brings to mind an enduring action hero. It brings to mind advanced gadgets and beautiful, dangerous women. It triggers images of super-rich megalomaniacs with plans on world domination. It conjures up memories of over-the-top action. And, for seasoned gamers, it brings to mind one of the industry's iconic video game titles: GoldenEye, from developer Rare, for the Nintendo 64. A game that did what many thought impossible: create a decent video game from a movie franchise, and more than that - a game that set the standard for console first-person shooters to follow. A standard games developers have tried, and failed, to match with numerous other Bond-licensed titles in the more than 10 years since GoldenEye's release. With the latest Bond title, Quantum Of Solace, regardless of how it fares in terms of sales, what your hardcore gamer will really want to know is: how does it compare to GoldenEye? Well Bond fans... read on!
Quantum Of Solace the movie is the second in what was described by the advanced movie PR as a 'reimagining' of the Bond franchise. Up till that point, despite MI6's most famous secret agent having been played by a variety of different actors, and having toppled more evil geniuses than you'd think one man could tackle in a single lifetime, the general idea was that each Bond film followed on from the last. Not so for Casino Royale, a new Bond movie with a new Bond that took the story back to the beginning, with a newly-licensed 007 setting out on his very first mission. Out were the larger-than-life super-rich criminal masterminds with their underground lairs, in were down-to-earth, more believable bad-guys who were simply in it for the money. Casino Royale made Bond grittier, darker, more violent and more believable, and audiences loved it.
Quantum Of Solace picks up where Casino Royale left off, literally, with Bond on the track of the mysterious individual who turned out to be behind all the bombings and subterfuge in the first movie, and responsible - ultimately - for the death of Bond's latest squeeze, Vesper. The game initially follows the plot of the movie fairly closely, with 007 taking on the mysterious money-man Mr White outside his palatial mansion, as depicted in the closing scenes of Casino Royale. All doesn't go quite to plan however, and Mr White is spirited away by his guards leaving our favourite secret agent to give chase through the mansion and its grounds, dealing with a steady supply of hostile, heavily-armed individuals along the way.
Anyone who's read anything about this game already will know that it uses the awesome Call Of Duty 4 game engine, which means that seasoned CoD4 fans will be right at home with the control system, and this can only be a good thing, because Bond is thrust right into the action; with no real tutorial mode on offer, it's basically 'on-the-job training' from the outset. Of course, Bond's not without his resources, and this includes a controller back at MI6 who monitors the action remotely and gives Bond instructions via voice coms as the plot develops. If you're new to the CoD4 engine, or to first-person shooters in general, then pay close attention to the voice in your ear, because his advice can make the difference between life and death for 007.
The first level is pretty-much standard shoot-'em-up fare, with lots of goons to gun down and not much else to worry about. Bond starts off armed with his regulation Walther P99 with optional silencer. Later on in the game when stealth becomes more important the silencer plays more of a part, but in the first level it's more there just for the 'cool' factor. Bond also has a mobile phone, from which he can access a map of the level, and review any communications from the bad guys that he has intercepted. These come in the form of mobile phones members of the criminal organisation have apparently carelessly left lying around the levels, and while not essential for the completion of each mission, they usually offer information on your objectives, and handy hints like the location of arms caches and tips on how to bypass the different security measures you might encounter.
In addition to the P99, Bond is also well trained in hand-to-hand combat. Thankfully, Treyarch decided against trying to turn this game into a half-shooter, half beat-'em-up though, and instead Bond's close-quarters skills are put to use via a simple 'takedown' option. Basically, get close enough to a bad guy, and clicking on the right stick triggers an interactive cut scene - Bond grabs said bad guy, and then one of the face button flashes up on screen. Tap it within the time limit and Bond finishes the bad guy off - miss the button, and the bad guy pushes Bond away and you're back into the main game.
Initially, these takedown moves seem somewhat pointless, as generally if you can get close enough to a bad guy to grab him, it's easier to simply plug him in the head with your silenced P99. However, as you play through the game and the action gets more frantic, you often find bad guys take you by surprise or come at you en mass, and when this happens being able to just grab one and finish him off hand-to-hand at the touch of a button comes in very handy.