Video Game Review: Quantum Break

QB Cover

Video Game: Quantum Break
Developer(s): Remedy Entertainment
Publisher(s): Microsoft Studios
Platform(s): Xbox One, Windows 10 PC
Genre(s): action-adventure; third-person shooter
Game Mode(s): single-player campaign
ESRB Rating: M for Mature: blood, intense violence, & strong language.
Release Date:  April 5, 2016
Review Date: May 5, 2016
Reviewed By: 
Jerry (JD_Shep)

This is a spoiler free review. 

I am going to do things a little different with this review and place some game tips at the end.

My Personal Stats

I played on the XBox One, both on the console and streaming to my Windows 10 PC. I unlocked 31 out of 42 achievements for 730 out of 1000 points. I spent 33 hours playing it. This probably includes the TV show portion. I also started to play without reading the extra story, then started over to read the extra story and record for a bit. Then kept playing without the extra story. Also, I died more times than I care to admit in the Final Moments, more on that later.

I created a playlist of gameplay/let’s play/walkthrough videos on Super Barley Bros’ YouTube page. I did some post production editing to add to the watcher’s experience. Such as speeding up time for non-eventful point A to point B movements. Given the nature of the game, it seemed fitting. Also, I read aloud the multitude of emails, documents, etc. As of this writing, this playlist is still in progress.

Initial Thoughts

I basically purchased the XBox One for this game, in a way. There was a great sale going on initiated by Microsoft, $50 off all console bundles. After looking at all the options, I decided to purchase the 1TB bundle with Gears of War Ultimate edition, Rare Replay, and Ori and the Blind Forest. I pre-ordered Quantum Break, and it also came with Alan Wake & American Nightmare. So not only was I really excited about Quantum Break, my first game purchase outside the bundle, but it was coupled with the excitement of getting a XBox One!

I was really interested in the unique concepts this game was bringing to the gaming experience. The live action TV show from the antagonists’ (Monarch Solutions employees) point of view interwoven into the storytelling of the game. It is something that has never been done before. It allows you to see the full picture. In most cases, you see the story from one perspective, the protagonist, but Remedy wanted to deliver the whole picture. The modernization of ‘choose your own adventure’ with choosing different paths that would affect the experience in the gameplay and the show was very intriguing to me. Even though I am not a horror genre guy, and I officially haven’t finished it, I enjoy the story telling in Alan Wake. That, coupled with the trailers (below) and what I was hearing through the grapevine during preview season, I was very excited for Quantum Break.

Trailers: The Game AwardsTime is PowerCinematic (with reviews)

Quick Synopsis

“Time is power.” The story is set in an East Coast town called Riverport. The story starts with you, as Jack Joyce, meeting up with a lifelong friend, Paul Serene at Riverport University to assist in conducting a time experiment. The time machine you are introduced to was based on your brother’s, William Joyce, research. Something goes wrong, as it always does when messing with time, and a time fracture is created. You think they would have learned from the countless Star Trek episodes, Terminator and Back to the Future movies, to not mess with time!

With this explosion, Paul is trapped within the machine, you get time powers, and your brother shows up. Enter the antagonistic corporation, Monarch Solutions, to start doing a clean up of the disaster. Why would a corporate entity be doing this and not law enforcement? Oh you will find out. You narrowly escape their clutches only to be introduced to the main antagonist of the story, older Paul Serene (since it was in a trailer, I won’t count it as a spoiler) and a very big reason to go after Monarch and figure out what their involvement is and their end plan.

I will end the synopsis there, I want you to experience the story as it unfolds.

Experience (Game Play / Story)

Pros:
1) This isn’t your standard third-person shooter. First, taking cover is automatic when you are in a firefight. Using your time powers, adds a new dynamic to the game. More than just the Max Payne bullet time when Remedy first introduced that to the gaming world. By doing this, it feels fresh, new, and unique. I never really got bored in firefights after 5 acts, which is refreshing.

2) Over the course of the game, you obtain a pretty nice set of time powers. As the game progresses, you discover different powers and chronon sources that are used to upgrade these time powers. Each power operates on its own cool down cycle, so you have an opportunity to really explore combining and chaining different ones together. Ideally, this makes it to where you always have a trick up your sleeve during a shooting sequence. These powers are a pro for the most part, but I did experience at times that it would not work exactly how I wanted it to and/or thought it would. Not sure if it was the game or just me (probably me). Look in the tips section at the end for a full list of powers.

3) There are so many opportunities for re-playability with this single-player only game. You can choose to just concentrate on the main story by not reading any emails or documents as you find them. Then, you can go back through and replay and read them during the campaign (or just look at them in your timeline). quantum-break-junction-1-4You can also go back, but make different choices as Paul Seren. Come to think of it, I wonder if you can go back to just the timeline and choose to replay the junctions and then watch the watch the TV episodes with those slight differences introduced? Regardless, I still want to finish my gameplay list, so more than likely, I will go back through.

4) The story. Going back to the emails and documents mentioned earlier, those items enhance the main story to give you a better understanding of the holistic picture. As you find them, you will at least want to open them, then you can immediately close them. This goes towards an achievement and they will also be available to read within your timeline as you discover them. It definitely provides a better understanding and provides a deeper insight into Monarch Solutions, just be sure you are ready to dedicate that time. There is also some pretty funny stuff in there and some Alan Wake easter eggs.

51fClXJcVXL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_The main campaign story itself definitely can stand on its own two feet. I felt like I had a stake in the game. The story kept moving along, with a combination of the here and now conversation and action, plus voiceover from Jack from the future as he recalls the events in an integration room. As a side note, Cam Rogers was part of the writing process for most of the game and also authored the novel tie-in Quantum Break: Zero State. A book that is now on my wishlist to get when I am done studying.

If you have the hard drive space, I would definitely recommend installing the shows. Otherwise, it is streamed in from (Microsoft?) servers. So your experience will be affected by internet traffic and your ISP (internet service provider). The live action show is a good production quality, like a high-end web series or a streaming service exclusive. In the series, you get to see the other side of the story which normally you wouldn’t get. I really like that concept when I first heard about it, and I believe it panned out. In the show, you do have some crossover from the game characters, but it really expands on other characters within Monarch that you interact with a little or not at all within the game. Great story, good action, good acting, and the right amount of time per episode. Speaking of time, if you don’t have time to watch the episode when it comes up, as soon as it starts, it becomes available in your timeline to revisit. I would advise against totally skipping it as it takes away from the overall story experience.

Looking back at other mediums that are focused on time travel, can get very confusing and technical sometimes. Remedy’s story full story telling (game and show) gives us a different took on time travel, paradoxes, and the like. I never felt too confused. There was a point where William is discussing with Jack what you can and cannot do while time traveling, and it brought it all together and I really understood the whole premise. on how time travel was being handled in this world. Quite nice.

5) The best antagonist is always the one who thinks s/he is the protagonist of their story. Paul falls into that category. He 100% believes that his plan in concerns with The End of Time is the proper one for all of humanity and that Jack is wrong. Jack and a few other individuals disagree with that.

Cons:
6) There is a lot, and I mean A LOT, of story. That, itself, is not the con. One of the little annoying nuances (nit-picking mind you) was when Jack was reading an email, watching a video, etc., and it was not part of the immediate main story (which is all of the intel finds by the way) the character you were with would interrupt you to encourage you to move to the next objective. Is that really a con? No, but I wanted to at least mention it.

7) The aiming reticule. I dislike with a passion. Both for aiming some of your time powers and for firearm aiming. It is too small, and it is white (oh, and by the way, there is a lot of white in this game). I lose it constantly. There were several occasions when the time stop bubble would totally miss the mark.

Quantum-Break-Act-5-Part-3-Final-Moments8) Act 5 part 1: Final Moments. The final mission of the story. The boss battle. How will it all end? Oh, I don’t know, I KEEP ON DYING!! Why? I have no idea. I run away from the red ‘time grenades’ that Paul ‘throws’. I don’t even know if that is actually what is happening. I have no idea, but then I run, and it seems like I am running into more or do I? There is some red over here, but is that because I got hit by a bullet from a Striker or is there a grenade thingy here too? No clue. There are Strikers all around. What is going on? What do I do? Die, that is what you do! I am sad to say that I had to go to YouTube. Even then it took me forever to figure out what was going on because no one was doing voice over to explain what they were doing as they played. I finally found one. I’ll put some advice in the Tips section. The lack of explanation to the player in this mission is what hurt the experience rating.

Experience Rating: 4.75 / 5

Graphics

Pros:
1) Now, I know I might not be experienced with XBox One enough to say this, but this game was the ‘next gen game’ for me. Much like Gears of War was on the XBox 360. This game had me say “wow!”. The graphics in-game and the in-engine cut-scenes look beautiful. I don’t know why this stuck out, but the attention to lip and eye movement seemed to have really improved from previous games I have seen. The CGI looks so good, and as far as I know, they used the game engine to create the CGI in their live action show.

Cons:
Honestly, I cannot think of any.

Graphics Rating: 5 / 5

Audio

Pros:
1) There is a lot going on with the sound: ambient noise (especially in a lab or when you went into Time Vision), the score, the foley sounds, the new sounds for the time powers, everything. It was all good and spot on.

2) The score really set the mood for that particular scene you were in and is great to listen to on its own. Petri Alanko returned to compose the in-game music, who also composed Alan Wake’s soundtrack.

quantum_break_cast-HD (1)3) Voice acting (and I’ll couple the TV show acting into this as well). Besides some small (even nit picking) instances between Jack and Beth in the game, the cast had a great chemistry with each other. Really great acting in my opinion. Big props to the main cast pictured here who are in the game and the show (minus William I think). Going left to right: Courtney Hope (Beth Wilder), Shawn Ashmore (Jack Joyce / Ice Man), Dominic Monaghan (William Joyce), Aidan Gillen (Paul Serene), and Lance Reddick (Martin Hatch).

Cons:
4) Dialogue. It is probably the only thing I can think of is because it is too realistic. If you are not facing the character (or radio) or are far away, it is very difficult to hear the dialogue. So if you want the expanded story, you are going to have to stand still for a bit and listen to that radio. As far as the character, it was the worst in the Final Moments portion of the game. I had no clue what Paul was saying. Yes, I know there is a caption option, but that gets in the way.

Audio Rating: 5 / 5

Conclusion

If you are looking for a quick 15-30 minute gaming fix, which my schedule sometimes only allows sometimes, this game will not always scratch that itch. Not always, it just depends on where you are within the act. If you start playing as Paul Serene, know you are going to be sitting there for around 30 minutes. Everything meshed together really well. Remedy took a risk and created something unique as a whole and it paid off. I cannot say enough good things about this game. I know this doesn’t mean much since this is literally my first and only game played and beaten on XBox One, but this is a definite contender for GOTY (game of the year) for me. I know if you look around at reviews as a whole, it is probably a mixed review. Keep in mind, reviews are opinions and to each their own.

tweetMake sure you go out there and tweet to them to make a sequel.

Averaged rating: 4.92 / 5

  Overall rating:
Rating 5

A recommendation to buy the video game day one or right now if you already haven’t. There is no such thing as a perfect game; however, this comes as close as it is going to. Everything adds up to make this an extremely enjoyable experience. If you consider yourself a gamer, and you miss this game, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Tips

Time Powers

  • Time Vision. Also, know as Eagle Vision (Assassin’s Creed) or Detective Mode (Batman Arkham). Something that seems to be showing up a lot. But I am not complaining. It definitely has its use. You have to stand still, though, once you move it is deactivated.
  • Time Stop. Definitely, one of the most fun ones, especially at the beginning of the game while you don’t have all of your powers yet. Basically, using your aiming reticle, you can throw a bubble of frozen time. This could be directed at an object that might be falling, but you need to jump or walk on, a grenade, and my favorite, bad guys. Lock a bad guy up in this, lay into the bubble with bullets and watch magic a few seconds later as all the bullets hit him at once. So keep in mind, the bubble is temporary.
  • Time Dodge. You move quickly while everything around you slows down dramatically. It only lasts a few seconds and is combined with a moment of bullet time focus or a quick melee if you run into someone before coming out of it. At times auto aim would kick in and I would override and mess up the shot.
  • Time Shield. This is sort of like Time Stop, but it is focused on you. Bullets disintegrate when it hits the bubble. This also gives you some time to regenerate some health. If you do this next to an enemy or enemies, the bubble acts like a melee weapon. So have some fun with it.
  • time rushTime Rush. You can feel like The Flash or Quicksilver for a moment. It is like Time Dodge on steroids. You can run with this one and do a number of things. You can quickly flank while they are still concentrating on your original spot. You can run at an enemy and melee (take down) once in range.
  • Time Blast. Using your aiming reticle, you can center it on an enemy, or even more fun on enemies, you focus your time stop as an actual explosion of time. This pushes the enemy back, and will eliminate most classes of enemies.

radarIf there is something you need to see in time vision, usually the indicator starts flashing yellow. Typically this happens around chronon sources. When a source is nearby and you go into time vision, you will have a very basic directional radar to direct you to the chronon source. I always didn’t rely on the indicator, as I went in and out of time vision mode often.

This is not your typical third-person cover shooter. Yes, you can use cover, and it is actually auto cover; however, in most circumstances it is actually better for Jack to keep moving and attack with combinations of firearms and time powers.

When you are upgrading your time powers, if you are finding most of the chronon sources, which you can check in your timeline, you can upgrade however you want with no issue. However, I would suggest that each power gets at least one upgrade and then concentrate on Time Dash and Rush. Remember that con experience about Act 5 part 1: Final Moments and the previous tip about keep moving? Well, you will definitely want those two maxed out for that final boss battle.

Speaking of that boss battle, you will want the shotgun which there are plenty around. You will also want an SMG. I did not come in with one nor are there any laying around. So after your first Striker kill, grab that Tactical SMG. In this mission, being at the far end of the pool, away from Paul, will help by not having all the enemies at once. You will typically want to save Rush for when Paul throws his red time grenades. Use Dash if you are going towards a Striker for an attack. If you didn’t get close enough for that initial throwback, hit your Time Shield. With the Striker getting thrown back, quickly shoot him a few times with your shotgun. Time Stop will not work on these guys. The big, tough shotgun striker comes in. You know, the one that takes several clips to take down. Try to lure him into the pool. Then take the high ground and lay into him with the SMG.

If I think of any more tips when I go back through to play, I will update.

“Drink craft beer responsibly. Play video games regularly.”

This entry was posted in Review, Video Game Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.