First person shooters are getting to be a dime-a-dozen on the Xbox 360. There are a few good ones, a few great ones, and plenty that are not worth mentioning. Treyarch's James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace, a game based on the newest entry in the long-running film series, can count itself as one of the good ones but it wouldn't have taken too much to make it even better.
Mixing story elements from both Daniel Craig Bond movies, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, the game takes enough liberties with both stories so as to almost create a new storyline of its own. The game starts where the second film begins -- outside Mr. White's mansion in Europe -- and, from that point on, very little resembles what you might remember from the films.
Using a version of the Call of Duty 4 engine, developer Treyarch has crafted a shooter that tries to also incorporate some stealth elements and a few third-person features with varying degrees of success. As James Bond, you can choose to fight or sneak your way through the game's fifteen levels. Some areas emphasize stealth more than others, but it is possible to simply run-and-gun through the entire game.
The biggest difference between this game and Call of Duty 4 is the cover system. Bond can hide from his enemies by using walls, boxes, crates, and other objects in the field of play. He can blind-fire or aim from behind them. Doing so will take the perspective from first-person to third-person, ala Gears of War.
The left analog stick controls Bond's movement, while the right stick controls his view. The left trigger will allow you to aim down the sights of Bond's current weapon, while the right trigger fires said weapon. Changing weapons is done through the left bumper button. Throwing a grenade is done by pressing the right bumper. "A" allows Bond to take cover if an appropriate object or wall is nearby. If you hold down the "X" button, Bond interacts with the various items in the game. Simply tapping "X" reloads the current weapon. "Y" makes Bond jump or climb over items. "B" makes Bond crouch. The controls are very responsive and take no time at all to get used to, especially if you've played a first-person shooter on the Xbox 360.
Aside from the standard first person shooter elements, every so often there are situations that require you to balance yourself by using the analog sticks, unlock doors using a reaction based minigame, or perform "take downs" on enemies through quicktime events ala Shenmue. The controls in these parts of the game are not as responsive as they are during the shooting sequences. As a result, they feel a bit tacked-on rather than natural.
Quantum of Solace's graphics are serviceable. Although the game uses the Call of Duty engine, the character models lack the amount of detail seen in the next generation Call of Duty games. This may be due to the game's cross-platform origins but it's the only real problem with the visuals. The levels are nicely varied and some areas feature environmental damage that can be used to your benefit (ie. lighting fixtures that can be shot down, etc.)
The game also features multiplayer through Xbox Live or system link. One of the better online modes is "Bond Versus", which deems one player as Bond and the other players as members of "The Organization." The Bond player tries to diffuse bombs while the other players try to hunt him down.
While the game looks and plays quite well, the overall experience is a bit underwhelming. The single player game is relatively short and there's really nothing here that hasn't been done before in other first-person shooters. As a game licensed from a movie, it's outstanding. But when compared to other recent first-person games, especially Call of Duty: World at War and Left 4 Dead, it doesn't really try anything new or differentiate itself from the myriad of shooters on the Xbox 360.