|System: X360, PS3, PC, Wii, PS2, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Treyarch||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 4, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-12||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Perhaps the biggest thing we took away from the Venice level was the development team's use of the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare engine. Not only was the level well-rendered and littered with bad guys, but as it flooded with water (forcing Bond to stay on the move), parts of the building continually came crashing down - all without a single hit to the framerate.
The second level is where we got more of a taste of the title's varied gameplay. Set in the casino from its respective movie, the second level allowed Bond to take a more stealthy approach. Guards were scattered throughout the floor and sneaking allowed Bond to use one of two options: a quick head shot kill or a takedown. Takedowns work in a fashion similar to those in the recent Bourne Conspiracy - you trigger them with a button press and this starts a QTE. Should you hit the right button, a custom animation plays. In our demo, Bond flipped several guards over a balcony, sending them plummeting to the street. The balcony served another purpose - it illustrated a stealth mechanic. Bond can carefully shimmy along ledges to avoid certain rooms. So that players don't miss what's happening inside the room, the screen splits in half - on the top, a series of picture-in-picture panels display what the bad guys are up to, while keeping Bond on the lower half, so the player isn't completely taken out of the moment. The level also featured a lock-hack mini-game where Bond timed button presses to disengage a lock.
The latter-half of the casino level erupted into a complete shootout. Bond was spotted in a spa section and a massive number of bad guys descended on the scene. Since the difficulty was set at a moderate level, the A.I. played it relatively safe - they stayed bound to cover, only sneaking out to pop out a few rounds from time-to-time. However, cover shouldn't be misinterpreted - the majority of it can be blown away, forcing Bond, as well as the A.I. to always keep an eye out for the next battle position. This was demonstrated by tables shattering, vases exploding, and tile getting chipped away by rounds from MP5 submachine guns.
To give us a taste of one more kind of gameplay, Treyarch loaded up their final demo level. It was a recreation of the construction yard chase from the beginning of "Casino Royale." Bond chased after his target, but the sense of speed found in the movie seemed lost in translation. This is probably due to the movie's quick cuts and editing, whereas the game featured the chase from a first person perspective and occasionally pulled out to third for Bond to make a giant leap or carefully climb across a steel balance beam. Regarding the beam, players familiar with Uncharted: Drake's Fortune will find a similar mechanic at play here. When Bond crossed the beam, a small bar appeared along the bottom of the screen with a white dot in the middle. As Bond moved along the beam, his balance wobbled from side-to-side, indicated by the dot moving further away from the center.
It's too soon to be excited or worried about Quantum of Solace. We were shown a very early version of the game and didn't get any hands-on time. The game's core shooter content looks solid, but things like the QTE-based combat and mini-games could end up being less-than-stellar in-game distractions instead of notable features. Treyarch is adamant about this being the start of a new Bond franchise and seems committed to reinventing Bond. Can the team pull it off? We hope they can; it'd be nice to see a proper Bond game after years of mediocre attempts.
CCC Freelance Writer