Forget cool cars, hot girls, martinis and anything to do with spying: James Bond has become Rambo. Activision’s videogame adaptation of “Quantum of Solace” forgoes secret agenting in favor of dropping 007 into a standard first-person shooter and having him mow down hundreds of anonymous goons. It’s a decent action game, but doesn’t remotely capture the spirit of its source material. Moreover, it falls well short of the year’s best shooters, meaning it’s unlikely to shake many gamers or stir 007 fans.
Developer Treyarch has boasted that it built “Quantum of Solace” with the same technology used for last year’s ultra-successful “Call of Duty 4,” but the resulting game is so similar it feels more like a series of new “Call of Duty” levels. That wouldn’t be a bad thing if Bond was a one-man army known to shoot his way out of every situation. But producing a game allegedly about a spy on technology developed for a military game makes about as much sense as dropping Hannah Montana into the “Halo” universe.
The game takes players through the plot of both “Quantum of Solace” and, via flashback, 2006’s “Casino Royale” by turning movie settings into tightly scripted shooting galleries. Gameplay consists almost entirely of Bond hiding behind walls or barriers and taking out hundreds of not very bright enemies by shooting either them or the explosive canisters placed conveniently all over the place until levels arbitrarily end. The gunplay is so constant and repetitive it feels like Bond’s license to kill is a frequent-mayhem rewards card.
The only reminder players have that they’re not looking at “Call of Duty” is when the camera occasionally switches to the third person while Bond is hiding, revealing a reasonable facsimile of Daniel Craig (if his expression never changed). Judi Dench and a few other cast members voice dense briefing sequences between levels that try to explain a plot that those who haven’t seen the films will have no chance of following.
The stealthiest “Quantum of Solace” gets is sequences in which players have to use a silencer and avoid security cameras in order to avoid detection as long as possible before the inevitable frenetic violence starts. Even more disappointing than the lack of spying is that the game skips most of the best moments from both films in order to get to the violence. Not only did Treyarch exclude scenes that don’t translate as smoothly into videogame form, such as Bond’s romantic conquests, it didn’t even bother with a car chase or the climactic poker game from “Casino Royale.” If Bond isn’t using a gun, this game isn’t interested.
As far as shooters go, “Quantum of Solace” is perfectly adequate and should sate the hunger of hard core fans for whom this fall’s “Gears of War 2,” “Resistance 2” and “Call of Duty: World at War” aren’t enough. Graphics are decent and though the level design never gets sophisticated, there are a few compelling sniping sequences and one in which the player has to run across the top of a high speed train.
Online multiplayer is the most direct rip-off from “Call of Duty 4,” with only the British accents and constantly replayed 007 theme to differentiate this game in any significant way.