Quantum Break – Fighting the Future
The bulk of “the game” is you trying to solve environmental movement puzzles like “where to jump” or “how to use my time powers to get me where I need to be”, interspersed with waves of people to shoot. Luckily, liberal use of the time vision can show enemies before you get to them, but unluckily enemies tend to come at you in waves. Just when you think you’re done, and you stand up…another wave appears. There’s a cover mechanic here, but it’s automatic: get near something to hide behind, and you crouch or sidel. Unfortunately, it’s not universal, as several times I sidled up to a wall, but just ended up facing it and not using it as cover. Thankfully, the AI is smart enough to split up and flank, but not smart enough to shoot first, so time vision + time bubble = kaboom most of the time, and on Easy mode enemies haven’t been a major concern.
So far, pretty standard stuff. Where things start to get weird is when you first take over the role of Paul. More spoilers, but after Paul absconds with the time machine from the University, he takes it to a particular location where he and Will had first worked on the prototype. This has something to do with his plan to save some of civilization from the unstoppable “end of time”, but Paul has more pressing concerns, such as how to deal with the fact that heavily armed Monarch goons assaulted a University and ended up on the nightly news. Here you’re given a choice: kill any and all witnesses, raising questions about their whereabouts and causing a backlash against Monarch that will give Jack allies in his vendetta, or spin a PR campaign that will blame everything on Jack, but will tie the hands of Monarch to do everything “above board”. This is not a meaningless decision: after picking an option (which you can preview before you select) you are told how many folks in the community selected the same option (a la TellTale games). Your choice also affects the really weird part of the game: the TV show.
Yes, there’s a gawddamn TV show jammed into your game. After the Paul segment completed, I was kicked to a live action segment that lasted for about 20-30 minutes (I think), focusing on Monarch’s chief of security Liam Burke, voiced and scanned by Patrick Heusinger, and how he’s having second thoughts about his role in Monarch’s decision to kill all witnesses (which is the option I chose, along with a paltry 30% of the rest of the community). The sequence is a chase scene in which Liam is outted by the personification of Douchiness who’s Monarchy’s lead cybersecurity dillhole (seriously, he’s an obnoxious and unlikeable stereotype and I hope he gets a bullet in his head).
So what’s the verdict on Quantum Break thus far? Overall, I am enjoying the game, but find myself mainly driven by the story, so much as it is. The combat is OK, but Easy is way too easy. The time powers are interesting, but so far have been “I might as well use them” as opposed to “holy shit cooldown hurry the fuck up!” important. The cover mechanic works when it works, but when it doesn’t it doesn’t seem to be much of a problem (again, at least on Easy mode).
Having a TV show in the middle of the game is handled better than you’d think. At least in the first case, you get some gameplay downtime that segues into the “put the controller down” segments nicely. I’m not sure what relevance the live action segments have on the overall game, but the fact that your decisions determine what scenes you see gives the game potentially massive replay value if you’re the kind of person who likes to consume everything possibly available to you. The only issue I have with this is that playing so infrequently, I’m going to forget what happened “last time on Quantum Break“.
Thus far I have no ragrets in buying Quantum Break. It’s a good game. There’s some graphical issues with lighting and some weird jumpiness that I decided I’d just attribute to the in-game “time stutter” problems. I bought it early so I could have the Windows 10 version as well for free, because it supports save once, pick up anywhere. However, if you find yourself at Target this week with the game in your hand wondering if you should buy it, hold off for a sale. So far the game is good, but not super oh mah gawd get it now stellar, and I don’t think you’ll be missing out on anything by waiting. Just make sure you pick it up before the end of time because I suspect there’ll be a short supply at that point.
As an aside, have you ever noticed how action heroes all have first names that start with “J”? Jack Joyce. John McClane. Jack Ryan. James Bond. Jason Bourne. What’s up with that?
I also have to apologize to Dominic Monaghan. I thought his in-game avatar was just a fucked up version of Shawn Ashmore’s avatar, designed to kind of look like Shawn, but tweaked so he didn’t look like Shawn’s twin. I also now have to apologize to Dominic for implying that he looks “fucked up”. I’m just going to stop now.