|System: DS, Wii, X360, PS3, PS2, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Vicarious Visions||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||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
The latest Bond adventure has hit theaters, and yup you guessed it related Quantum of Solace video games are hitting gaming platforms as well. Though the DS version follows the movies storyline somewhat, the handheld 007 takes a slightly different tact than the console iterations in terms of gameplay. How does this secret agent fare on the dual screen?
James Bond movies have always been about three things: cool gadgets, insanely entertaining action, and gorgeous ladies. Youll get none of those things in the DS version of Solace. Youre relegated mostly to the use of simple guns and melee, the action is basic and repetitive, and Judy Dench is the only dame youll spend any real time with here. However, that doesnt necessarily mean the games not at least worth a look.
For starters, the game is played in book-style form a plus for many DS owners. Youll turn your DS sideways (yes, theres an option for left-handed players), and the action will take place on the touch screen, with the map/inventory housed on the top screen. Like Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword (DS), all actions in the game are performed using the stylus, with the exception of attacking, which is initiated by pressing any of the buttons on the DS.
When you first begin, your go-to gal (and Denchs character), simply named M, instructs you on the basics. You run through a training level housed within the British secret-service complex known as MI6. The game is played from a third-person, isometric view, and you move Bond via the stylus. His movement isnt as fluid or precise as that of Link in Phantom Hourglass, but Bond can either walk or run depending on how far you move the stylus from him. Additionally, theres a circle marker always surrounding 007, and by tapping within the circle, you can cause him to move in a more stealthy fashion.
Quantum of Solace plays as an action adventure, and youll be running through various levels, defeating tons of baddies along the way. Bond can engage enemies in several ways. Youll acquire different guns as you progress through the game, and by holding down any button on the DS, youll bring your weapon to bear; then simply tap on the touch screen where you want to fire. The shooting works okay, but there are issues with hit detection. Additionally, its impossible to shoot enemies from more than a short distance, as the onscreen view around Bond is very limited.
The melee combat, however, is even trickier. When youre up close to an enemy, you can initiate hand-to-hand combat by holding down any of the DS buttons. Once toe to toe with your enemy, youll need to draw lines and/or circles to cause Bond to attack. A slash from left to right causes him to throw a left hook and vice versa; heavy attacks are performed by slashing either up or down on the screen. You can also stun enemies by blocking attacks (blocking is done by tapping the side of the screen where an enemy is attacking from), and when enemies are incapacitated, you can then throw them for extra damage. There are also combos and a few other melee techniques that are somewhat entertaining, but theres a lot of inconsistency in terms of the game properly reading your touch commands. That said, due to the limitations of gunplay, melee ends up being the practical approach to dispatching most foes.
Levels are fairly plain in their design, leading Bond from checkpoint to checkpoint. Theres a bit of stealth action involved, but enemies offer up little challenge, often staring blindly at a urinal or wall, waiting for you to simply sneak up and whack them from behind. When enemies do patrol, its only in very simple and abrupt patterns. A given mission consists of little more than taking out a few bad guys, find a key/ticket/keycard that permits access to the next area, and as the now classic saying goes, rinse and repeat.
There are, however, some other interesting gameplay elements thrown in that give Solace a bit of an RPG feel. Dependant upon your performance during missions, youll gain a number of Bond Points, which you can then use to increase 007s various attributes. Adding points to Brawler, for instance, will increase Bonds melee damage, whereas allotting points to Rough and Tumble will increase his maximum health. Additionally, Bond will find both poker chips and playing cards along the way, and you can turn in chips for Bond Points, or use the playing cards to make different poker hands that will improve some of Bonds other abilities. They are neat, little gameplay mechanics that work fairly well.