September 30, 2020

‘Quantum’ gameplay falls short

By Kevin Shaw
Staff Writer

“Quantum Break” is an ambitious, fast-paced, first-person shooter game. Yet even with its one-of-a-kind game mechanics and its interesting narrative, the game simply doesn’t hold up.

I was skeptical when I first bought the game. It is a Microsoft exclusive, meaning it’s only available on the Xbox One and PCs with Windows 10. So if you don’t have either of those (which many people don’t), you simply can’t play it. But I thought, why not? It looked like something I’d never seen before.

In “Quantum Break,” you play as Jack Joyce, the brother of a brilliant quantum physicist who just unraveled the secrets of time travel. You activate a time machine with your friend, Paul Serene, also known as Littlefinger actor Aidan Gillen from “Game of Thrones,” and naturally, something goes horribly wrong. You are exposed to time travel particles called ”chronons” and granted a god-like mastery over time and space. Some crazy time stuff happens and a significantly older version of your friend Paul appears and tries to kill you.

The plot of this game, without spoiling key plot points, is definitely its strongest facet. The characters are well-crafted and well-acted. Many of them are actual famous actors, and the story was really cool. It’s a race against the end of time.

Spliced into the game is a live-action series featuring the actors on whom the character models were based. This series helps to expand the character development and drives the plot forward. The episodes were about 20 minutes long and gave a much-needed break from the non-stop action the game provides.

Aside from the thrilling story, there is a lot that is wrong with the game. The time travel mechanics are implemented through your special abilities. You can slow down time to make a quick escape, create a shield that stops bullets in the air and trap somebody in a shield of stopped time.

Why is this a problem? Well, even though you have all these amazing powers, you rely 90 percent on guns to actually get anything done. A man who can control time who needs to use guns doesn’t make much sense. This aspect wouldn’t be too much of a problem if the guns were well-designed, but they all carry too little ammo and they are terribly inaccurate. In order to kill any bad guys, you need to be right up in their face, which makes you an easy target.

That’s where your quick escape ability comes in handy, but it all becomes so hectic. With such little health, every encounter is the same: run in, shoot once, make a shield, quick escape away, make another shield. It’s too chaotic.

God forbid you die and have to restart, too — the checkpoint system is a mess. If you die (and you often will), you have to repeat fight sequences and even some cut scenes over and over.

There are many aspects to the game that I enjoyed and disliked. Many of the bad parts of “Quantum Break” had the potential to be good — maybe if the game was beta tested a bit more, if it was in development a bit longer or if the developers took more time to rethink the mechanics. But “ifs” aside, “Quantum Break” is a decent game that could have been so much more — it just doesn’t hold up.

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