By: Mike “The Birdman”Dodd
Time is power, but is time on your side in this anticipated Microsoft exclusive?
Quantum break is the one of the games that has a lot of hype surrounding it since it was announced back in 2013 and then had several delays during its development. Quantum break has finally been released to the public and we’re all waiting to know the answer, was it worth the wait?
In short, yes. There are some nuances to this however 6-8 hour adventure and that mostly involves replayability. There is a lot to like about Quantum Break but it seems like it may have gotten overhyped by some of it’s own marketing.
Quantum Break tells the story of Jack Joyce who comes back at the request of his best friend, Paul Serene to his hometown of Riverport and a time travel experiment goes terribly wrong. The story can be summed up as one trying to change fate and fighting against all odds to change what may be set in stone. To say anymore would be going into spoiler territory. The story also plays out in a TV series style format between major acts of the game and there are 4 episodes of it and we’ll talk a bit more about this later on.
Jack Joyce is played by Shawn Ashmore who is known for roles such as X-Men’s Ice man and playing opposite Game of Thrones actor, Aidan Gillien as Paul Serene. The rest of the cast is filled out with actors you’ll recognize from shows like Lost, True Blood to name a few. There are some actual great genuine moments from Ashmore and Gillien that are unexpected and really show off some of the great work that they can.
Performances from everyone are really strong and a highlight of the game itself but some minor scripting gripes make themselves apparent during playtime. You will get absolutely sick of hearing “Jack Joyce” or “Paul Serene” names so much that it gets real annoying real fast but that’s a nitpick at best.
The actual game itself is from a third person perspective and you can explore the world to a limited extent and of course you get super powers. Quantum break’s specialty is that “Time is a weapon” and it is for your character along with a variety of firearms like SMGs, shotguns and pistols, etc. The game unlocks new abilities as you progress through the levels so you always have the right powers for the right situation.
The powers are time based as you may guess but a mix of offensive and defensive moves so that each situation can be approached differently but some are more useful then others. One ability allows you to freeze time in a small area and freeze enemies and even shoot bullets into it, which will impact the enemy. When the effect wears off it stacks insane amounts of damage and another allows you to dodge not unlike “Neo” from the Matrix in bullet time and escape danger.
The powers have an “Infamous” play style to them and there is a time and place for everything and allows for experimentation with them to different situations and resolutions. There are only six powers available and a small upgrade tree within each to increase duration or effect. It is possible to max out the abilities in a single play through if you are thorough.
Character models look fantastic and like their real life counterparts and it is really something to see the performances come through the digital characters.
Actual combat is fairly simple gunplay and a melee attack that doesn’t unlock ‘til later via one of your time powers. On normal difficulty, the gunfights are fun but don’t really present any significant challenge even when your enemies can stand toe to toe with you in the super powered arena. You can mix it up with your time powers but you could likely go the entire game and not use your time powers except when necessary and likely beat the game. There is a certain satisfaction stacking several clips of automatic rifle into an exploding barrel and watching enemies ragdoll in a spectacular fashion. I did notice a distinct lack of any huge boss type battle until the very end of the game.
The production value of the game is quite high and is likely one of the nicest looking Xbox One Games to date. Character models look fantastic and like their real life counterparts and it is really something to see the performances come through the digital characters.
The in game engine works great with the digital performers and the scenes never feel off like some other digital characters can in some newer games. The time effects of your powers being used also look fantastic and something special as you can see the little details suspended in time like debris or sparks from gunfire.
The wrap around “TV show” that Quantum break has been hyped for quite sometime it is an interesting beast but I feel like in a sense it was misrepresented in a sense. The “TV show” is just 22 minute long cut scenes with high production value and a decision which can have a relatively minor effect on dialogue and some story elements. The decisions do matter though as it can change some story elements like characters and to some extent the endings, but it doesn’t feel as in-depth as say “Mass Effect” or “The walking dead”.
There is definitely a “paragon” and a “renegade” path but I don’t know what will happen if you make a mix of the games decision and there are also aren’t as many as I was expecting. The show is well done though and does have some great action and even some great character moments and in particular I feel “Charlie” steals the show especially so. I do applaud the developers for trying something like this especially since it could have ended up stupid but it was cool but it could have been cooler.
There are tons of collectibles and other things hidden in the world that may help flesh out the world of Quantum break. There are video logs and media and even some Easter eggs to “Alan Wake” which was kind of neat. The collectibles don’t have any real impact on the story but help connect the dots and provide additional insight into the characters. You can’t however get 100% of them on a single play through as some will only become available once you pick a certain choice in the game itself so it does warrant a second play through if you want to collect everything.
Quantum break is a fun game and it’s one that I can recommend playing but it is still not the Xbox one killer app that people have been hoping for. Quantum Break is a game that should be in everyone’s Xbox One library but itself is not enough to sell the system as a must buy. Quantum break will keep you entertained for the duration of it’s campaign length and keep you engaged enough with it’s story line to see what happens until the inevitable sequel is announced.
The characters are likable and you generally care about what happens to Jack Joyce and his quest to set things right.
Quantum break is available on Xbox One and Windows 10 on April 5th.