James Bond has had something of a chequered past in video games, but Quantum of Solace brings him back with a certain amount of style. While the game based on the latest 007 movie is primarily a first-person shooter, the single-player mode incorporates stealth-action gameplay and a number of third-person sequences. The solo play is fun while it lasts, but it ends abruptly after only four or five hours. Fortunately the wealth of included multiplayer modes ensures that this remains an enjoyable Bond experience.
The majority of the gameplay feels conventional for a first-person shooter, though the optional stealth elements and the third-person cover mechanic definitely make things more interesting. When in cover, the camera zooms out and affords you a third-person view of the situation that makes popping out for headshots a relatively undemanding endeavour. This view also helps the game in more subtle ways; the satisfaction of controlling a character who is instantly recognisable as Bond as you pop out from cover and silently put a bullet in the back of a henchman's head cannot be overstated.
When attempting to move around unnoticed, your silenced pistol serves you well--as long as you manage one-hit kills. Get careless, and you'll find yourself under heavy fire and diving for cover as enemies are alerted to your presence and their reinforcements pile in. With that said, on lower difficulty settings it's certainly possible to make it through many levels with guns blazing. But it's just as much fun and ultimately more rewarding to play by moving carefully, sneakily taking your enemies down, disabling security cameras, and quietly hacking locked doors.
Occasionally, taking a somewhat stealthy approach is mandatory. This would be fine, except that some of the set-pieces feel a little ham-fisted. A couple of segments that leave you pinned down by multiple waves of enemies feel out of place, and the novelty of edging along a window ledge keeping an eye on windows to avoid guards inside wears off by the third time you find yourself doing it.
The environments are, on the whole, well designed. The variation presented by wreaking merry havoc in a large museum in Miami, gunning down bad guys on the roof of a moving train, and chasing double agents across rooftops in a world heritage site is one of the game's strengths; it makes the chapters more fun individually and really helps to make the game feel like a James Bond movie. That feeling is further enhanced by cutscenes that feature key members of the cast of both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, including Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench, and Eva Green. The stars' voice talents are also put to good use in the MI6 briefings that flash across the screen between missions, and all of these things add up to a very satisfactory Bond experience. One thing that doesn't sit well is the amount of product placement in many of the levels, from indestructible Sony Vaio laptops to SonyEriccson Cybershot phones that are loaded with clues. The presence of such things really jars with the rest of the world, given that nothing else is branded at all.