October 25, 2010

Review – Quantum Theory

Filed under: Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 2:29 pm

Quantum Theory
Quantum Theory isn’t the worst game I’ve ever played.

If that line doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement toward the positive however, that’s probably because it’s not.

There’s an early sequence during the player’s rampage through an ominous tower filled with evolutionary chaos, where a cinematic break is required to introduce the largest example of greyish-blobbish indistinguishable enemy yet encountered. The creature materializes from a swirling cloud and kills several smaller enemies before kicking the player back into the game to suddenly deal with this escalation of battle, only to find 4-5 quick shots that would dispatch any normal enemy also enough to stop this beast dead in its tracks as well.

Much ado about nothing seemed to sum up the experience. Yet somewhere in that moment I found words to summarize my time with the game, the distinct feeling that the development team begrudgingly finished this title for release with the collective battlecry “MEH” heard ringing around the office.

Quantum Theory
The sometimes vaguely pretty and repeating environment offers consistently unbalanced enemies, most often led by humanoid solider type creatures that hunker behind cover to fire off shots, popping their head high enough for the obligatory headshot from the player, herein rewarding the player with an animation of said head exploding when successful – however I’ll admit to finding a strange and continuous enjoyment from that even after repeated viewings.

Larger beasts eventually drop in to say hello, in several strange instances meant to force the player out from cover by depriving them of it entirely at times, as if taking a short lunch break from the rules the damn game established itself from the start – the first major boss encounter left me strafing right and left while firing as if it were the good ‘ol Doom days.

The biggest inconsistency in enemy strength comes from smaller critters, which occasionally run at the player to offer what reason would have left me assuming should have been quick and painless breaks between cover based firefights. Instead these moments can become painfully aggravating because of how cheap and deadly these little bastards are. In fact, I hate them so much it makes my eye twitch just thinking about them again.

Quantum Theory
None of this may surprise you, given that Tecmo isn’t renowned for their experience with third-person shooters – sticky little notes like designing and balancing the types of scenarios that make players feel like bullet gods for overcoming obstacles. And it might leave you thinking that Tecmo simply read an article praising Gears of War and with a tear in their eye said “Us too!”

It’s impossible not to think such things while playing Quantum Theory, but I earnestly don’t believe it started out that way. Keeping in mind that intention matters little weighed against results, there’s reason enough to believe that Tecmo once had the drive to offer their own take on the genre, specifically with environments that morph and change during firefights, an idea spewing directly from the narrative as the tower players invade descends into the chaos of infection.

The climb to the top begins offering areas where players take cover on a section of bridge only to have it twist, move, and open up opportunities for other enemies to snipe your position, breaking up the lazy cover disease that so easily enters into these types of titles. However, an immediate problem are the heavy controls that make the player feel like a wheelbarrow full of bricks with a wobbly tire, making it more likely that you’ll simply fall off a thousand ledges rather than achieve any action that makes you feel warm and fuzzy.

Better areas are spots where rows of pillars provide cover and players pop off shots while moving from point to point to gain a better advantage – start shifting those around and you’ve got my attention. In fact, Vanquish manages to do something very clever with the idea, albeit in the final moments of the game.

But none of this ever finds as much space to evolve into a solid idea within Quantum Theory, because once again, it’s impossible to not feel that this release is strictly about trying to make something back on a bad investment.

Quantum Theory
Most of the time you can hunker down behind a piece of comfortable cover, picking off the bolder enemies before taking shots at the less brave ones, all those enemy positions feeling like a designer simply used a pepper shaker to place them around the environment rather than putting any real thought into what would pin down or move the player. This crossed my mind because of Quantum Theory’s other gimmick, which allows players to throw their obligatory sexy female companion across the room to dispatch and mostly distract enemies – a feature you simply never need to use. There just aren’t many points where this ever becomes necessary, and I continually forgot it was even an option.

As for the rest of the ride, enemies are a series of blobs, dispatched via weapons that are also largely indistinguishable blobs. There’s no style or mark to any of it, which kinda matters because if I’m spewing thousands of bullets, making the things that fling them a little distinct has some merit. And it’s unfortunate, because this isn’t the worst story in a videogame, and as it progressed, God help me I actually started enjoying it a little.

And with that said, this really isn’t the worst game you could find in a bargain bin. Compared to hack and slash monotony, this is at least something playable – the game makes logical sense, even if said sense isn’t very fun. I can’t help thinking I could have some fun playing this with someone else, except that no one else will play it with me so far – counter-arguing that you shouldn’t have to work so hard to find fun in a videogame. That’s probably very true, and reason enough to leave this release where you find it.

Quantum Theory
DeveloperTecmo (Team Tachyon)
PublisherTecmo Koei
System – PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (Xbox 360 Reviewed)
Release Date – September 28, 2010

*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review


  1. The online trophies might take a while since I don’t see a lot of people having the game. Might rent it in a month or so to see if it’s really THAT bad.

    Comment by EdEN — October 25, 2010 @ 4:10 pm

  2. I was curious and asked at a local shop, clerk told me she recalls selling two copies, which explains the dust bunnies online :/

    Comment by Jamie Love — October 25, 2010 @ 4:12 pm

  3. Figures. Once the games goes down to $30 we might see more players online.

    Comment by EdEN — October 25, 2010 @ 9:50 pm

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