Excluding the time when Nintendo 64 owners got to enjoy the majesty of GoldenEye, James Bond and videogaming haven’t really got on. A never-ending collection of lacklustre titles from Electronic Arts seemed content to bastardise the franchise and sit back to count the cash, and a change had to happen.
Fortunately, it did. When Activision got hold of the licence, the first thing it did was resist the temptation to rush a game out to tie in with Casino Royale two years ago. Instead, it put the Quantum of Solace game into early production, and the added time invested in the project has certainly helped. We’re still some distance away from another classic 007 adventure, though.
From the off, it’s immediately clear that this is a different beast to our last few console meetings with Mr Bond. Very strong visuals set the scene and then the action kicks in, with some terrific gun battles greeting you throughout the early parts of the game.
Most of these are won by crouching behind an obstacle, sticking your head out and shooting, and the initial levels give you ample chance to give that a try. The robust control system makes things perfectly straightforward too, and you’ll happily be going through the motions in no time.
And what’s more, it’s really good fun. Backed by the thumping score in the background, it’s hard not to get pumped up and dragged into the fun. Likenesses are good, significant voice talent is on board and it feels like a solid Bond adventure.
But it doesn’t take too long for the problems to kick in. Why, for instance, do you have to leave cover to be able to leap over an obstacle? How does hiding behind a wall make you impervious to pretty much any kind of attack (short of being flanked by your enemies)? And why do too many of the levels descend into something horribly samey? These soon migrate from being minor irritants to harmful problems, and do drag Quantum Of Solace down.
What you’re left with is a cagey marriage of first and third person action that does drag the standards of Bond videogames up a good few notches, but still fails to match the action and intensity of the source material. Even the plot starts to get a little odd and repetitive. It’s still a good game, but it is a conventional one that makes for a fun weekend and not much beyond that.