Back in the N64 days, an amazing Nintendo exclusive Bond-themed first-person shooter came out of nowhere and quickly became one of the console’s best-selling and most beloved titles. I am, of course, referring to GoldenEye, which, at that time, revolutionized the first-person shooter genre on home consoles. While that game hasn’t aged particularly well, it has been many years since its release and there still hasn’t been another Bond game that has managed to recapture this same magic. Unfortunately, even with the potential afforded by the Wii’s innovative control scheme, the use of the Call of Duty 4 engine, and the addition of online multiplayer, this statement remains true.
Quantum of Solace is a fairly odd title for this game. The name itself isn’t too strange, but when you look closely at the game’s levels, the name choice becomes very curious. In total, there are fifteen levels that make up this game, with around two thirds coming directly from Casino Royale. This would be like making a Batman game involving mostly events taken from Batman Begins with a couple from the new film thrown in and calling it The Dark Knight video game. Thankfully, this doesn’t really hurt the game in any way, as all the levels are actually woven together quite well, it just seems like a bit of a bait and switch for fans looking for a complete Quantum of Solace-based experience.
Calling this game a first-person shooter is also somewhat misleading. While you can play most of the game in this fashion, you are continuously encouraged to make use of cover, which places you in a third-person perspective. Pressing A will make Bond stick to the closest sizeable obstacle that can stop bullets. From here, you can either blind fire at enemies or peak out and aim down your gun’s sight for a better shot. When in cover, your health regenerates more quickly and your shots also get a noticeable boost in accuracy, making this method of play very advantageous. Implementing third-person combat and a cover system into a first-person shooter is an interesting idea and works well at times, but it is also plagued with some problems.
The biggest issue this cover system suffers from comes from the controls. As I previously stated, pressing A will make you stick to cover, but it is also the same button used to sprint. There were countless times when I was trying to sprint to a better position during combat and I would just press up against a wall, table, or vehicle, leaving myself completely open to the gunfire I was trying to avoid by repositioning. Another problem stems from the fact that not everything you would expect to be able to use for cover will actually let you. One wall will allow Bond to seek refuge and gain a tactical advantage, while another, entirely similar wall can’t be utilized. This becomes increasingly frustrating when you are pinned down in a corner that just so happens to be one of these cover dead zones.
Once you get past, or at least adjust to, these issues, the gameplay is surprisingly solid. This is thanks mostly to the control sensitivity options provided. Thankfully, you are able to tweak just about every aspect of the Wii-mote’s sensitivity and, perhaps most importantly, the bounding box. This allows you to directly control how quickly your view will change when moving your crosshairs around the screen. The smaller the box, the quicker the screen will turn when you aim outside of it.
Even with the ability to change these settings, I never actually felt like the controls felt just right though. Luckily, the developers were seemingly aware of this problem and implemented a feature that further aids the process of aiming. Whenever you pull the Z trigger in either first or third-person, you will automatically lock onto the closest object or enemy that can be fired upon. When locked on, your enemy appears much larger on the screen and your crosshairs are seemingly drawn closer to your intended target. From here, all you need to do is make minor aiming adjustments to shoot your foe wherever you wish. This makes hitting specific body parts, even from a distance, relatively simple. However, one issue worth mentioning is that locking onto enemies can sometimes be hit and miss. Frequently when enemies are behind cover, even if they are still clearly visible, the game will not allow you to lock onto them.
The mix of first and third-person action transitions pretty well into the game’s multiplayer as well. Sadly though, the options here are extremely limited, consisting of only Conflict and Rush modes. Conflict mode is basically your standard deathmatch, and Rush has you trying to complete various objectives to score points. These goals can range anywhere from hacking computers to sending radio transmissions. Both modes support up to four players locally and online, with both running very smoothly. Besides only supporting four players, other downsides include that there are only seven maps (shout out to the remade Facility map from GoldenEye), very limited weapon load out choices, no character customization, and no perk system to reward you for continued play. Playing these modes can be fun for awhile, but ultimately there is nothing to keep you coming back besides your overall score.
Graphically, this game is pretty rough around the edges. This is likely due to the fact that the developers tried to shoehorn the Call of Duty 4 engine onto the Wii without taking the time and manpower necessary to actually make it work correctly given the system’s horsepower limitations. Bond himself looks fairly decent when in the third-person perspective, but almost every other character in the game lacks serious detail. If you are standing still, the game’s environments aren’t too bad, but once you start moving, things get pretty jagged. The framerate also dips from time to time, chugging worse as the onscreen action escalates. While nobody expects the Wii version of a game to compare graphically with its current-gen counterparts, I know the system is capable of much better than what this game provides.
All in all, Quantum of Solace feels like a real missed opportunity. With a little more time and effort, the Call of Duty 4 engine could have been optimized for the system, eliminating much of the jaggedness and slowdown you’ll experience while playing the game. The addition of a cover system and third-person combat is great, when it works properly. The multiplayer is solid, but your options are extremely limited. Even the majority of the single-player experience doesn’t actually come from the film it’s named after. While Quantum of Solace is a somewhat entertaining experience, it fails to go that extra step necessary to make it a great game. Instead, it just becomes another name on the long list of games that have failed to unseat the longstanding king of Bond video games.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.2 Graphics
The Call of Duty 4 engine has clearly not been optimized for this game. Expect some fairly rough-looking effects, characters, and environments as well as occasional framerate issues. 3.2 Control
The ability to tweak the Wii-mote’s sensitivity and bounding box is great, but aiming still doesn’t feel as spot on as it should. 3.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
With tunes taken directly from the films as well as voice work from the actual cast, the only downside is flat sound effects and repetitive enemy phrases. 2.7
While the single-player campaign is fairly short, it definitely has its moments. The multiplayer can also be quite fun, but limited modes and options won’t keep many around for very long.
2.7 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.