Joystiq eyes (only) on: James Bond in Quantum of Solace: The Game

James Bond, always too busy to stop and smell the flowers.

James Bond returns to movie theaters this fall in Quantum of Solace, and this time he'll be back in video game format as well. Treyarch has been developing a Quantum of Solace game in conjunction with the new flick, enjoying carte blanche from the producers to photograph and use everything from the movie in the game, including blonde Bond Daniel Craig. You can count on his stoic visage making an appearance, not to mention his recognizable voice. Find out what we learned from this first peek at the game, freshly declassified.
It has been three years since a James Bond game hit store shelves: EA's From Russia With Love, which was based on a Sean Connery Bond film from 1963. Now that Activision has wrested sole control of the James Bond license from EA, it's finally releasing a game based on the new Bond, beginning with Casino Royale and its upcoming sequel.

Quantum of Solace, the film, is set one hour after Casino Royale ends, making it the first true direct sequel in James Bond history. Quantum of Solace: The Game, however, spans both films, and you'll play through scenarios and levels from Casino Royale, like the Venice collapsing house and the chase through the construction site, as well as scenes from the new film.

The game runs on top of the Call of Duty 4 engine which Treyarch is also using for Call of Duty: World at War. The developer is calling it a "first-person action game" although, throughout the game, you'll transition from first person to third person, depending on the situation and the actions you're going through. Need to stealthily sneak past some guards? You'll be in a third person. Want to go in like a crazy hard-charger? First person for you. If you're looking for something comparable, it's pretty similar to the system used in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas.

We watched Jeremy Luyties, the design director for the game, take a spin through the Venice collapsing house level, and it was pretty impressive. The sound alone made us feel like we were right there with exploding air bags, goons taking shots at us, and the rumbling sounds of a house made out of stone about to crumble to bits all around us. It has contextual music as well, which plays a sped up version of the Bond theme when he's in trouble, or when something notable is about to happen.

Treyarch has spent a lot of time making Quantum of Solace run on top of the CoD4 engine, adding a cover combat system, updating the A.I., and keeping what it calls a "Persistent Bond" (the look and feel of James Bond) running through the game. The second level we were shown had Bond trailing Le Chiffre (that bastard!) during a break from the poker game in Casino Royale, with the warlord Obanno's men crawling through the hotel. You can stealthily make your way through, or come in guns blazing. We were shown both options and, in this case, stealth looked like the way to go.

Treyarch has added a picture-in-picture function, which pops up at various times, normally while in stealth; for instance, in this level, Bond was perched on a ledge outside a window in the hotel, and the PiP feature let us see from inside the room, seeing Bond in both screens. It's a neat twist that answers the "can they see me from in there?" question while also making things a bit more cinematic.

Bond continues trailing Obanno's men into the hotel spa, where a massive gunfight ensues. Naturally, there's plenty of steam, water, pieces of destructible scenery, and a steady stream of gun-toting goons. If you have a pulse, that probably sounds like great news, but this brings us to one of the always-present problems we have when developers twiddle with movie-based games: continuity. Bond gets into this massive gun battle in the hotel spa, yet security never pops in to see what's going on, and the poker game later continues as normal? Call us crazy, but we think that a pileup of dead bodies and fireworks might warrant some sort of police intervention. Maybe we're just nitpicking [Not at all! Bond movies are known for their unwavering realism! - Ed].

Throughout the game, Bond uses his cell phone as the interface to hack locks, check out 3D maps, save/load the game and get mission updates. It generally serves as the only real gadget in the game. Like the new Bond in the movies, an emphasis is placed on the man himself, not all those funky thingamabobs. This time, it's all about the guns special Bond "takedown" moves that pop up during melee combat, God of War-style.

The developers have had several visits to the Quantum of Solace set, and the art directors and wardrobe coordinators have sent them hundreds of high-res photos of everything used on the movie, perfect for scanning and duplication. They also showed an early development kit version of the game to Daniel Craig, who loved it and asked to keep it so he could show it to his friends (we show our fingernail collection to our friends). He's also a huge Guitar Hero fan, and plays it during downtime in his trailer. Licensed to Rock. No word on whether or not he likes other games that aren't published by Activision.

The game is still in very early stages, but it looks pretty impressive (thanks CoD4 engine!), and the digital likeness of Daniel Craig is uncanny, right down to his blue-eyed icy stare. Ray Park (Darth Maul in Star Wars, Toad from X-Men, Snake Eyes in the upcoming G.I. Joe movie) did a lot of motion capture work on the game, at times playing Bond, and at other times playing someone trying to kill Bond. Judi Dench is also providing her voice to her virtual version.

Considering that there won't be several different James Bond games to choose from, and that it's been several years since we've even gotten one at all, we hope that Treyarch can deliver on its promises. But we just can't be sure; not only did we not get to actually play Quantum of Solace, but we didn't see what Treyarch is calling an "unparalleled Bond multiplayer experience." We hope to know (and play!) more at E3 this month.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.