Quantum Break - Time to Go Back to the Future

You won't find Marty McFly, Doc Brown or even a DeLorean here but you will definitely find a time machine. As with all time machines, you will also be treated with conundrums, controversy and contradiction. Quantum Break is now available on Xbox One and PC.

Firstly, I'll explain what type of game you're in for here. Quantum Break is a third person action shooter with a heavy story element. Woven into the game play are four television series like episodes which are performed by live actors which are the exact same characters that are within the video game side of things. After playing through a section of the game you will be in for a roughly 30 minute cut scene of sorts. Just like a TV series the show will play out for you so when these start to play you can put your controller down, make a coffee or grab a beer and relax for a short while. The neat part of the TV show is that it will be slightly different depending on the choices you make within the game. I guess this is why you're up for a 70+GB download for this portion of the game.

I'll touch on the story early on here and keep it vague so as to not spoil anything for those keen to play. Especially because the story element to Quantum Break is by far the strongest and main focus of the game. You will take control of Jack Joyce (played by Shawn Ashmore : X-Men) and early on you will meet your long time friend Paul Serene (played by Aidan Gillen : Game of Thrones) in a facility where he will introduce you to something that he has been working on for a long time. Serene explains to you that he has been working with your genius brother William Joyce (played by Dominic Monaghan : Lost) but he has gone a little crazy and he needs your help to get everything going again.

Basically Serene introduces you to a time machine. Jack (you) and Serene are interrupted by Will who tries to explain that the calculations are slightly off which means a bad thing for time travel. Things as you would imagine go ahead, the time machine fails and in the process Jack is given special time related powers in the process. This failure causes a "Fracture" in time which essentially starts a chain reaction which is going to lead to the end of time as we know it. So the rest of the story leaves it up to you to make decisions along the way to save the world.

That's enough of the specifics of the story but allow me to tell you that this is no family friendly chuckle fest of a game. Aidan Gillen is not the only Game of Thrones similarity to be seen here. There are parts of the game where it gets down right hard hitting. There will be sections of the game where you will assume something will happen, and it will, but just not like you expected it to.

The story, like most time travel stories can get a little confusing at times but for the most part, it's told in a way that is very reasonably easy to follow. The story does give birth to some conundrums which are sometimes remedied with lore, but there are a couple that just don't seem to work with me. There is one occasion where the rules that the game will have you believe are broken by the main characters which leaves you thinking "I thought you said you couldn't do that?" but shortly after having that thought there comes a throw away line that resolves that contradiction but it really felt cheap.

I don't think that last part really made that much sense for people reading this but it's pretty hard to convey my point without spoiling a decent whack of the story.

It should be pretty well known by now that there are quite a few familiar faces here with the star studded cast. There is something about the live action cut-scenes that just doesn't feel as polished as the television shows the respective actors are from. The actors themselves do a pretty good job of playing their roles but something about it just feels a little B-grade. That's not to say that it's bad, but it is just something about the post production of the live action that just doesn't feel high quality.

Okay so, the story is pretty awesome and it is pretty much what kept me wanting to play without having breaks. I feel I need to point out some parts that annoyed the hell out of me and whether it would bother you or not will remain to be seen. Most cover based shooters that I have played in the past, usually give you the ability to shoot from cover using 'blind fire'. This doesn't exist here and I have heard arguments on why this is the case. The game is designed to make you leave cover and use your special time based powers instead of keeping yourself hidden behind cover. I get that but it just didn't feel right. On top of that, when I was in cover, I never really felt safe due to the fact that regardless of what my cover was made of, I still managed to take damage. So to fix that, keep moving and use your time machine given powers. Here's another free tip. You will learn through playing the game how to level up your powers. Do this as much as you can because it's very easy to progress through the game and miss out on upgrading your powers which are essential to your survival.

Further to my gripes, there is a bug/glitch in the game (I am assuming it's not meant to be like this) that causes light sources within the game to flicker constantly. These lights will flash on your screen and cover it entirely for a second at a time making it very hard to see things. If you suffer from seizures or epilepsy then this will not be good for you. I have never had a seizure but if I was ever going to have one, it was from playing this. Now these flashes of light don't just affect you when they're on screen. No, they managed to annoy the hell out of me through walls, doors and other objects. This is why I can't believe it's meant to be. After rebooting the game several times and playing through the whole game, this issue was universal and not isolated to a specific level. Hopefully this gets fixed for you future players because the game is totally worth it.

Other than the special blinking lights, the special effects in this game would rival any major production blockbuster movie. They're absolutely amazing and the whole game is littered with explosions, glitches (of the cool intentional kind) and photo-realistic characters and scenery. I don't think anyone would argue that the facial animation and motion capture is some of the best that has been placed into a video game to date. When my non-gamer wife walks into the room and says "Hey is that the guy from Lost? Oh, and that's the guy from X-Men too" then I think the art design team have done their job well enough.

Playing through Quantum Break on its own will probably net you about 60% (just a guess) of the game's story and lore. If you're a keen reader and would like a lot more story and background to the characters you meet throughout the game, then you're in luck. The game is rich will collectibles that will serve a purpose. Although you don't need to collect them to make sense of the game, the more you collect and ready, the more you will understand about what is happening, why and what can be done about it. I am not big on wasting time collecting things in games on my first time through, but this time around I felt compelled to do so because the content of the emails and diaries lying around was so informative and interesting. I do warn you though, there is a lot of reading to be done.

Remedy has been around for a while as a game developer and they have such games such as Max Payne and Alan Wake on their resume. It's a surprise that they didn't name this game Jack Joyce. It's without shame that Remedy have felt the need to pepper Quantum Break with references to their previous games throughout the whole game. You won't really need a keen eye to find them, just check out the scenery and in most areas you will see something relating to either Max Payne or Alan Wake.

Overall the time related puzzles are fun but too easy to work out. The game play is fun for a while but the enemy variation is pretty slim. The story is well thought out and covers off on most of its controversies when referring to time travelling. The hard hitting themes will interest the most senior of video game players but may leave them yawning a little bit at the gun play. If you want my opinion, Quantum Break is a game that is definitely worth playing, even it just for the once over before trading your copy in for pittance. I can't see too much replayability here unless you're a die hard completionist. If that is the case, you better get moving.

Lucas Aurelius - Aussie Gamers Express

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