Saturday, 15 December 2012

Quantum Theory: Review

The third person shooter is a genre that has become saturated with countless entries, so it takes something pretty spectacular in order to stand out in the crowd. Games like Gears of War, or Uncharted are the leading titles in the genre for their respective consoles, and both have set the benchmark for both gameplay and visuals. Unfortunately, Team Tachyon’s sci-fi shooter Quantum Theory cannot hope to keep up with its competitors. 

The player takes the role of Syd, a gruff, violent and rather bland man, whose  background remains mysterious. The unknown history of the character is clearly supposed to intrigue the player, but unfortunately he really isn’t likeable, so it’s hard to care where he came from. He merely serves as a medium for the alien-squishing madness, and as you spend most of the game looking at the back of his head, it’s difficult to recall his face for more than a few seconds after you finish playing.

You start off in a tutorial level, escaping a crumbling tower, busting alien heads along the way. Fighting alongside you is a mysterious woman named Nyx, who seems to have some kick-ass powers that would be fun to play around with. Unfortunately, she dies just before you escape-bummer. The main story begins with Syd fighting his way through devastated streets to a second tower. The main objective of the game is to bring that tower down. Conveniently, there’s another woman inside this tower who has similar powers and abilities as Nyx – Filena, and she helps you on your one-man war against the deadly “Diablosis”. It isn’t the most original plotline, and there isn’t that much throughout that will have players hooked. 
The main pull is in the gameplay – which doesn’t say much for the game’s strong points. It works on a basic cover/shoot mechanic, allowing you to take cover and pop out to blast a few heads, before retreating to safety. You can also blindfire, run-and-gun, dash and use melee attacks. Sound familiar? It should. The game basically replicates Gears of War, but still manages to screw it up. Syd is not nimble. His movements are clunky, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve almost thrown the controller away due to the way he struggles to get through a narrow doorway.
 The game also gets very repetitive as you play on. There is no customisation to be done to Syd, the weapons are samey, coming in practically identical versions of the same weapon type (Shotgun, Assault Rifle, etc), the enemies are slightly varied, coming in a few different sizes, but a small change in enemies doesn’t stop the bland faces from becoming boring. This is a problem in quite a few other shooters, but at least there is a decent narrative in most of them to back it up. Quantum Theory has repetitive gameplay, without an interesting plot to act as the saving grace.
Fortunately, there are a few redeeming factors. Enemies explode upon death, in an eruption of green goo, and headshots are even better. When you manage to pop an enemy right between the eyes, you get rewarded with a slow-motion, zoomed in shot of his head exploding. This is undoubtedly one of the most satisfying things that you can experience in the game, especially when you pull off two or three in a row.
Next up is Filena. She helps add a little variety to the action, allowing the player to utilize her deadly sword, and swift abilities. This effect doesn’t last long though, as you soon realise that all you can do, and all you’re ever going to be able to do is throw her, for a more deadly ranged attack. This was a huge disappointment for me, as the different combat styles, and the promise of being able to use her SKILLS suggested a strategic element. I would have liked to see more experimentation with Filena’s abilities.
Finally, we come to visuals. Character models look...okay. Decent at best. Syd’s bulky frame isn’t really memorable, Filena’s bright armour shines in contrast to the dark environments you find yourself in, and Syd’s default pistol does look pretty badass. If it stood alone, it may have been passed off as a good looking game, but unfortunately, the Uncharted series has set the benchmark, and proved that the system can do better. The environments are at their best when they are moving around on an epic scale. Certain set pieces throughout the game have Syd and Filena fighting on moving ground, as the environment changes around them. These moments add a sense of drama and excitement to the game that is otherwise absent.
Quantum Theory isn’t a bad game. It just attempts to do something that has already been done countless times, and much better. I almost feel sorry for it, as it will inevitably be compared to other games, which outclass it. Decent graphics, cookie-cutter gameplay and multiplayer modes that nobody is playing just isn’t enough to compete with the rivals of the genre.
5/10 – Okay

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