Quantum of Solace
James Bond makes his return to handheld gaming, license to kill in hand.
It's been a while since we've seen a handheld James Bond game. Actually, the last one we remember is the Game Boy adventure James Bond 007. Aside from that, they've all been pretty tame. Fortunately, Daniel Craig's edition of James Bond looks to shake things up when he arrives in the Nintendo DS game Quantum of Solace, slated for release November 4th.
Unlike the console editions, the Nintendo DS version is strictly third-person and viewed from an isometric perspective. Bond remains on the screen at all times, as do his targets. The trick here, however, is the control scheme. Rather than just holding the system normally and using the d-pad and buttons, you turn it sideways and guide Bond and his actions using the touch screen. This means you direct the stylus around the screen to get him moving, while tapping to throw punches and fire his weapon.
It's tricky at first, considering the loose aiming of your PPK and the number of enemies on-screen. However, we can understand the logic that Vicarious Visions put into Solace. It wants to rely on some innovation that puts players in full control of Bond, right down to up-close physical confrontations and finding keycards to advance from room to room. To keep things interesting, Bond can also fistfight. To execute his vigorous moves, you need to drag the stylus in certain directions. For instance, an uppercut requires a slide upward on the touch screen, but you need to time it in order to avoid an enemy strike.
Our demo stage took place in an airport, where Bond is in pursuit of a homemade bomb maker. He's looking to test his latest prototype on a specialized jet, and Bond has to do everything in his power to stop that from happening. Bond sticks to gunplay and fists throughout the level, but there's some stealth segments as well. Along the way, he can also snag playing cards, which he turns into winning poker hands. This boosts Bond's attributes any way you choose, as there are a number of skills to upgrade.
Quantum's presentation looks average. The detail in each room of the airport isn't bad, but there were times that we got stuck, even with the navigation tool on the left screen. There are also some badly designed sprites that look ugly if you get too close to them. Otherwise, the game looks and sounds just like a Bond game should, although the lack of multiplayer may leave some gamers disappointed.
Quantum of Solace's interesting controls and upgrade card system should make it worth a look. Let's hope the game leaves us shaken and stirred.