By Kyle Holmer and Jarrod Jones. Let’s all take a moment to consider the temporal chaos of Quantum Break, and how freakin’ cool it looks at all times. *basks in warm memory* Ah… that’s good stuff. Now, let’s all take a moment to consider the intrusive, B-grade silliness of Quantum Break‘s live-action episodes. *CONTENT BUFFERING…* What — oh, dammit!
Our review of Quantum Break dropped last week, and in true internet fashion there were a few readers who took issue with our take on Remedy Entertainment’s paradoxical shoot-em-up. Considering that most players, and let’s be real, most outlets (who, for the most part, gave Quantum Break semi-okay reviews) are still jonesing for the next Max Payne release (and thus were totally happy with Break‘s bullet-dodging mayhem), that’s not surprising. In fact, that’s perfectly fine! So, to encourage a dialogue with all our LOAD FILE faithful, we present to you the four factors inside Quantum Break that we took issue with. Don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments section below!
1. For being a time-controller, you sure can’t stop your Powers Set from aging.
There are plenty of faults with Quantum Break (as we’ve outlined in our review), but probably one of the most infuriating issues is the combat. This game is gorgeous, and even though it doesn’t always feel great, the combat rarely disappoints. Dashing around the map and combining your powers with gunplay both looks and feels fantastic… for exactly the first two hours. (There is 10 hours of Quantum Break to enjoy.) The implications in the story (namely, that Jack Joyce is the new master of time) should have led the gameplay in some more interesting directions; for example, it would have been incredible if we were able to combine the powers in a more direct and meaningful way (à la BioShock), or at the very least discover even more creative clock-stopping powers to add to his arsenal as the game progressed. Nope.
When everything is working just right, the game feels awesome, but considering Remedy rolled out its entire array of mechanics fairly early on, it’s difficult to keep yourself engaged with them throughout the entire story. There are limited weapons (about 5 or 6 by my count) and the power upgrades don’t provide any significant changes. That means you’re left endlessly trying to keep yourself engaged with what amounts to a half empty toolbox. — KH
2. Jack Joyce is a ding-dang dingus, at least tactically.
When I think about time-travel and manipulation, I think of The Flash. (I know. I’m inclined to.) And while Jack Joyce is no superhero, he does have superpowers — whether certain gamers are willing to acknowledge Jack’s time-altering abilities as such, or not. (They’re totally superpowers.) And like most contemporized actioners that choose to dabble in the province of superherodom, Quantum Break takes itself far too seriously. What makes matters worse are Remedy’s laughably-staged live-action sequences, where we would be made to feel like this is a television series devoted to the sophisticated subversion of science fiction tropes. They wish. Jack Joyce runs around like a second-rate Tom Anderson, and we are a long way away from The Matrix.
Jack’s running around the games’ platforms armed to the teeth with automatic rifles and superpowers against a swarm of trained soldiers in naught but his civvies. That makes me feel like Jack is taking his predicament lightly, and it bugs the hell out of me. Sure, Shawn Ashmore’s face is frequently contorted in an angsty scowl, but most of the gameplay features Jack taking on fully armored battalions of killers (courtesy of Monarch Solutions) armored with nothing more than an Eddie Bauer leather jacket. Time-contortion aside, Jack Joyce’s other superpower appears to be blind luck. It makes all this cover-based shooting feel pretty damned silly.
Maybe it was a creative decision on the developer’s part to dress Jack (and game villain Paul Serene) in such humble garb, or perhaps I’m just thinking about this too hard (I do tend to do that), but those kind of things take me out of a game. Jack Joyce is a time-stopping force for good, but he looks like the guy who cut me in line last week and snatched the last Cinnabon. At least Timecop gave Jean Claude Van Damme a damned flak jacket. — JJ
3. Meaningful decisions are anything but.
One of the most pervasive and continuous lies in video games happens once again in Quantum Break. Remedy, like plenty of other developers, once again promised us the that their game would be filled to the brim with player agency. That the entire story will adjust based on the choices we make throughout, and yet the end results of Break‘s plot twists look identical no matter how we choose to play through the game.
This gripe is by no means to exclusive to Quantum Break, but with the additional television show, it legitimately felt like we were actually going to get a game that would actively respond to how we played. (For once.) Instead, if you’re fooled into believing that mess and thus end up replaying it, you’ll find yourself sitting through another two hours of that damned TV show trying to desperately to see something change. Everything wraps up in exactly the same fashion: sure, there’s a grand total of about five minute of cutscenes that will change based on those useless “Junction Points,” but if you happen to find one of these eight rare collectibles you’ll be greeted with little more than background chatter in the live-action show. One or two extras will mumble a line about what you found and… that’s sincerely all you get. (Beyond the main arc, there are the additional “Quantum Ripples” which are even more hollow and insulting.) The creators went through the extra effort of filming a live-action show on par with network television and somehow completely neglected to make it matter. — KH
4. The (relatively) painless ‘Quantum Break’ experience is exclusive to Xbox.
While you have to applaud Microsoft for putting out such a tantalizing IP for its console (and it sure did pay off for them), its Windows experience has left much to be desired. Stuttering frame rates are the primary gripe with most PC users (though the streaming TV sequences on Xbox definitely tripped all over itself more often than it didn’t), but there are other issues blighting the Quantum Break PC experience.
Little things, like being unable to adjust visual quality or quit from the Main Menu irked more than a few players. (“We hear you!” says Remedy, which I can’t figure out is an affirmation of gamers’ frustration, or a rapid dismissal of a patently obnoxious development screwup.) But bigger problems have popped up too: certain players found an inability to download the game they just purchased from the Windows Store (which Remedy says will be resolved later this summer), and there have been several issues with Cloud saving that have affected Windows users and console players alike. (This issue, at least, appears to have been resolved.)
That’s not unique to a wide-release title (Arkham Knight screwed the pooch for PC gamers just last year), but when your game is exclusive to two platforms, that just appears to be developmental chaos. — JJ
Check out the LOAD FILE review of ‘Quantum Break’, here.