Quantum of Solace review: (just) Three Stars

I’ve been brewing over QoS for a while now, and I’m ready to render judgement.

It wasn’t a great movie. It was very nearly not even good.

Let’s see… what went wrong?

Well: Casino Royale set an impossibly high bar, is the short version.

Casino Royale delivered (for Bond) realism and authenticity in its action sequences, a compelling and mildly complex plot, interesting locations, and again, and above all, the return of some authenticity. If I had to sum up Bond 20, it would be “authentic”. A reboot in the truest sense of the word. Like Batman Begins, care was taken with the details, enough that I wasn’t immediately offended or pissed off while watching it (and having my suspension of disbelief shattered by an unrealistic stunt, or a sequence that was clearly CGI, etc, etc).

Whereas Nolan pulled off The Dark Knight with even more of what made the first movie good, reinvigorated Bond fans got the difficult second album.

Quantum of Solace relies on effects and an incomprehensible set of action-cut-sequences, in which the effects shots stand out. The moment in the boat where Olga strikes at the other man (impossible camera shot, so clearly an effect); the weird part where something got attached to another boat somehow; other impossible camera shots; implausible villain’s lair. It was damn near Roger Moore-era over-the-top-ness.

Put another way, I thought the ad for the Sony thingo at the start, where Daniel Craig was getting stoically blasted by explosions and debris, all the while trying to stare sadly at the camera, was the best action sequence in the movie. (Like the “Mad World” Gears of War ad made you wish the story in the game was actually worth a damn and had just a smidgen of poignance). But no. Yes, there was an action sequence montage to arguably inappropriate music, and while the girlie enjoyed that bit, I’ve seen it done better, and less perfunctorily.

And then, when you think things might be calming down… the MI6 computer system was one of those ridiculous Swordfish-class monstrosities. Surface multiplied with some Designers Republic offcuts. Everything seemed to beep and animate and twirl, but how much of it actually looked functional or useful to anyone? Frustration abounded. Does anyone, ever, really expect computers to be magical any more? Do they need to be?

And I felt tired. Bond being cut loose from MI6 (or was it 5?) again? Really? Is that even a plot twist any more, or did Judi Dench die ten years ago, and they’re just compositing her into the scenes with all the same lines? Maybe computers are magical.

Quantum just didn’t work as well on any level, and I’m going to argue that at the end of the day, it was largely due to the direction. The plot could have used work, but I think the disappointingly vague and overly brusque action sequences made the action less fun, and the movie as a whole felt cheap.

I’m hoping this is a momentary mis-step, and that we’ll see more of the smart, realistic Bond we got from Casino Royale, and less of a return to the special effects and plausibility nightmares of Die Another Day.

So, six out of ten. Charitably, 7, but that’s stretching the friendship. Must Do Better.

Fake Crowd Noise on Supermodel Finale?

Something completely, utterly annoying to me is the overdubbing of crowd noise.

I picked it quickly on Public Image Limited’s “live” version of Rise (on one EP or another), and watching the Make Me A Supermodel finale on 7 left me with a similar feeling.

Crowd shots showed happy clappers for the runway segment. But some signature “whooping” was happening for every person. Everyone got the same level of crowd noise. And in none of the shots did it appear that the crowd was as impassioned as the whooping might imply. They might have taken legitimate crowd noise from one segment and dropped it in elsewhere, but it’s cheating. It’s not authentic. And I’m not impressed.

So, Channel 7, shame on you. I reckon it was overdubbed, I reckon it was rorted, and I reckon it’s sad that you did that, assuming I’m right.

Armed Assault (that’s ArmA, kids) 1.11 Beta Patch out now

I mentioned a beta patch before, and now it’s here!

  • Fixed compatibility issues with Vista x64 platform
  • Voice over net and multiplayer related fixes and improvements
  • Fixed Out Of Memory problems caused by exhausting 32b virtual address space
  • Significant optimizations with large view distances
  • AI bridge pathfinding much improved
  • Fixed some bugs in the AI target recognition both visually and aurally
  • Improved airplane turn dynamics simulation (including improved rudder simulation)
  • Fixed clipping issues with 16:9 or TrippleHead displays


Performance was pretty good (as in, I haven’t seen it that good before) when I tried it out on Vista X64 just then – and best of all, no need to dual-boot any more just to play it!

Thanks for the beta, back in a few weeks of playtesting.

(I noticed that trying to adjust the Y axis mouse sensitivity slider didn’t really work properly, but the X was OK… just me?)

Armed Assault 1.12 due "soon", and should fix the >3GB problem

Since upgrading to a Vista x64 box with 4GB RAM, I’ve been unable to play Armed Assault. Well, not with, what’s the word? Oh, right, visible graphics.

Sure, you can limit your total memory to <=3GB via BCDEDIT and reboot every single time you want to play the game, but, um, that’s not the best user experience.

A post to the Flashpoint1985 Armed Assault Troubleshooting forum (which seems to get indexed by precisely zero search engines, doesn’t support RSS feeds and is generally a pain in the bum to use) suggests that the upcoming patch (1.12, I think was mentioned somewhere, but whatever; as long as it works (1.09 beta doesn’t)) will fix that.

Now where’s the damn patch!? It’s coming up on a year and a half since release, and still no Vista support. Lift your game, folks!

No Formula One game from EA in 2008 then.

In a post dated March 18, Peter Moore (formerly of Microsoft Xbox fame, now an EA VP) notes:

Formula One – This seems to be a popular question, and it seems many of our fans in Europe are interested in our thoughts about the game license. This one is simple. I am personally a huge fan, having grown up worshipping such great drivers as Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and James Hunt. The excitement that Lewis Hamilton has brought to the sport, and its vast global appeal, make it an appealing game license, but as of right now it is not available. Maybe in a few years the situation will change, but until then we fully respect the rights held by our partners at Sony.

Which is a gigantic pain in the arse, after rumours that EA had bought a Lewis Hamilton endorsement for 5 million quid.

Might have to go get a PS3 if the Formula One license is going to linger with them for much longer.

(Guess there’s always RFactor in the meantime – the best $50 I’ve spent on a racing game in a long time).