Activision's first James Bond game, Quantum of Solace, is almost as deceptive as the spy who stars in it. While it might be named after the current Bond film, the majority of the game's levels are one big flashback to Casino Royale, the previous one. While the plots of the two films will be connected, this is a bit much, and the structure of the game is pretty ridiculous. Once you get past the misleading name, Quantum of Solace has its moments, but it also has its flaws.
The game opens where the film, Quantum of Solace, opens, essentially picking up right where Casino Royale left off. After a few chapters devoted to that, you run into a character who asks why you're after the same bad guy she is. You tell her in the form of the rest of the game--a Cliff Notes version of Casino Royale's plot that skips all the card-playing and sticks to the action sequences. Once that's done, you play through one of the action sequences from the upcoming film and call it a night.
The game is a first-person shooter with a cover system. When you take cover, the game pulls out to third-person shot, which simultaneously gives you a bit more awareness of what's going on around you and lets you look at the game's Daniel Craig player model. It's a pretty good model. The game looks and feels like a stripped-down Call of Duty game, enhanced in some spots and reduced in others. On one hand, the cover system is very handy and changes the pacing quite a bit. On the other, Bond is almost too accurate with his weapons. Blindfiring head shots is most certainly possible at ranges that, well, only an international superspy or carnival trick-shot artist would be able to pull off. Takedowns are another moment where you'll see James Bond on-screen. They're also another "like Call of Duty 4, but..." moment. You initiate a takedown by clicking in the right stick when you're up close, like you were trying to stab someone in COD4. But instead of an instant jackmove, this initiates a one-button quick time event that results in a slow-motion animation of you knocking out your foe. It takes too long and the animations get old fast.
The game occasionally breaks out of its shooter trappings into sequences where you'll have to shimmy along the outsides of buildings, or keep your balance as you run along a narrow beam. You'll also find a few spots where you can optionally play for stealth and avoid detection by shooting out or dodging security cameras. But for the most part, this game is all about lining up headshots while behind cover and taking them. As long as you're patient about sticking behind cover, you'll be fine. Even though the game is better about breaking you out of the shooting than some of the previous Bond games have been, overall, the single-player portion of Quantum of Solace is just kind of boring. Nothing terribly wrong with it, but you've probably played plenty of more entertaining shooters over the years.
The multiplayer portion of Quantum of Solace feels superfluous and unnecessary for the same reason. There are plenty of better shooters out there. The guns don't feel impactful, the characters move around in a very skittish way, and every player model seems to just shout "I'm empty" again and again and again. "Empty" sums up the multiplayer pretty well. You'll find a smattering of standard modes, as well as a few Bond-specific styles like Golden Gun, where players struggle to control a golden pistol that fires explosive rounds. As you play, you'll earn credits that can be used to purchase weapons and upgrades that you can use in future multiplayer matches. That's probably the neatest idea in the entire game, even if it's mostly a retooled take on the COD4 weapons and perks customization systems.
The graphics are where Quantum of Solace gets a bit dicey. The game's lighting is pretty bad, with most things having a sort of full-bright look to them that makes the environments look garish and, at times, washed-out. The animation for moving enemies is stiff, and things like explosions and other effects don't really stand out. The music is, as you'd expect, full of songs that occasionally recall the famous James Bond theme. Most of the relevant actors and actresses from the films show up to put on a performance here, and they do a fine, if unremarkable job.
Even when you factor in the way Daniel Craig's James Bond has been a rougher, more action-oriented take on the character, Bond is a spy. He should be out doing ill, spy-related acts of espionage as he spies it up with other spies. Instead, he's cast as an almost-faceless gunman yet again. If you were hoping that Activision's take on the license would be any more faithful than most of the games that EA put out while it held the license, you'll probably be disappointed. But on its own, Quantum of Solace is a passable shooter in a world that's filled with much, much better ones.