Video-game review: 'Quantum of Solace'

Billy O'Keefe
McClatchy-Tribune News Service (MCT)

"Quantum of Solace"

Reviewed: Xbox 360 and Playstation 3

Also available: PC, Nintendo Wii, Playstation 2, Nintendo DS

From: Treyarch/Activision

ESRB Rating: Teen

This is November, which means one game-changing shooter after another is vying for your attention via any number of features you can't find anywhere else.

"Quantum of Solace" is not one of those games, and if there's one truly awful thing about it, it's the timing of its release, which piggybacks the film of the same name but absolutely gets lost in the tidal wave of flashier, more impressive counterparts.

That's slightly unfortunate, because taken on its own merits _ as a meat-and-potatoes first-person shooter and little else _ "Solace" is quite a lot of fun. The game runs on the same engine that powered last year's "Call of Duty 4," and the fundamental polish from that game _ great controls, convincing gunplay and fast action that rarely gives way to lulls _ is entirely apparent here.

The big addition to the engine is the inclusion of a cover system, which in turn reveals "Solace's" most impressive strength. Several missions allow you to advance quietly using stealth or burst through with barrels blazing, and "Solace" is so equipped to handle either that it's hard not to want to play both ways even if you normally prefer one method over the other. Bond occasionally gets stuck on cover, which can be punishing if it happens at the wrong time, but things work far more often than they don't no matter how you approach the situation.

That's a good thing, too, because there isn't much more to "Solace" _ which bounces between scenes from both "Solace" and "Casino Royale" _ than that. There are no driving portions that you actually control, and the game handles hand-to-hand combat through uninspired interactive cutscenes that could scarcely be easier. The high-level gadgetry synonymous with the Bond brand doesn't come into play beyond your cell phone interface and a lock-picking minigame. This is a pure (and fairly short) shooter with one mind, and while it does what it does awfully well, the singular focus certainly bears mentioning.

"Solace's" adherence to traditional values is a bigger concern on the multiplayer front, where a lack of breakthrough features leaves it hard-pressed to keep up with all those flashier games that are building communities at the same time. Again, though, what it does, it does well. The engine keeps things exciting, the modes are designed around the Bond universe rather than vice versa, and a "COD4"-style experience system gives the mulitplayer some legs by doling credits you can redeem for weapon and armor upgrades.





'We're Not Here to Entertain' Is Not Here to Break the Cycle of Punk's Failures

Even as it irritates me, Kevin Mattson's We're Not Here to Entertain is worth reading because it has so much direct relevance to American punks operating today.


Uncensored 'Native Son' (1951) Is True to Richard Wright's Work

Compared to the two film versions of Native Son in more recent times, the 1951 version more acutely captures the race-driven existential dread at the heart of Richard Wright's masterwork.


3 Pairs of Boots Celebrate Wandering on "Everywhere I Go" (premiere)

3 Pairs of Boots are releasing Long Rider in January 2021. The record demonstrates the pair's unmistakable chemistry and honing of their Americana-driven sound, as evidenced by the single, "Everywhere I Go".


'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.


Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".


PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.


Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.


Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.


Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.


Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.


A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.


Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.


PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.


'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.