Monday, January 12, 2009
Like movies, there are certain games that define a franchise. For James Bond that game was Goldeneye, the classic first person shooter that combined stealth and button mashing frenzy into a Walther PPK of fun. Except for the excellent Everything or Nothing at All or From Russia With Love games, the James Bonds that followed were copies or updates of Goldeneye. And in the first video game of the Daniel Craig era, the Bond formula stays intact. Goldeneye it is then.
The heart of the game is still sound, you try to sneak around buildings and bases disabling security equipment until you're spotted. Then, you pull out a personal armory and unload all kinds of weaponry on the bad guys who saw you. As an update of Goldeneye, the surroundings have gotten more detailed and the artificial intelligence of the opponents are much smarter than in the past. No more camping in a safe spot and picking off eight people in a row as they run through the same doorway, oblivious to the stack of dead bodies in front of them. No, this AI dodges your aim and thinks pretty reasonably. The environments come with exploding and breaking parts which add to the fun. A lot of natural gas canisters litter the playing field, shoot one of those and watch three or four enemies go up in smoke. Story wise, they manage to combine Casino Royale and Q of S together albeit clumsily. Sounds like Quantum of Solace is off to a good start.
My only real issue with the game is the controls. The Wii's controls for movement are extreme, even with sensitivity settings I find the foot movement and buttons sluggish. You try to run away from a timed bomb but Bond moves slow, so you push the button to sprint and suddenly you're stopping to hide behind a box instead. At the same time, the shooting and turning movement is hypersensitive and has a tendency to get stuck. Though to be fair, when it is working properly, the targeting is fairly accurate. And once I learned to minimize use of cover, jumping or running my game play improved.
There are some graphical glitches too but those are forgivable. Even with the game play issues I find I'm pretty addicted to Quantum of Solace, shoot 'em up games are a favorite of mine and the stealth system is pretty good here. Once I accepted the control issues, Quantum of Solace became a solid sequel to Goldeneye. I'm already going through the game a second time at a higher difficulty setting and enjoying my temporary licence to kill. It's fun to be a blunt instrument.