Quantum Theory (Available on PS3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Players: 1 to 10
Publisher: Tecmo KOEI
Developer: Team Tachyon
Release Date: September 28th, 2010
PSN/Xbox Live – Online Multiplayer
Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Quantum Theory an M for Mature within reason. There’s blood, gore and bad language…everything you expect from games falling within this label. It’s not as uninhibited as Gears of War, but parents shouldn’t consider buying this game for their young.
Quantum Theory is Tecmo KOEI’s Gears of War. Despite similarities, the media has had a field day ripping QT a new one. Currently, its Metacritic rating is around 40%. That’s very bad. I sadly delved into the game with that underwhelming mindset…and in the end, I walk away in complete agreement with those critics. Instead of bashing Team Tachyon’s work though, let’s look at where they veered off via constructive criticism…you know, to help them avoid repeating their mistakes. This review should be a lesson to all developers which assume that aimlessly copying a great game guarantees an instant hit. It’s never that simple.
+ Interesting use of a secondary character. QT has you use two protagonists, but one doesn’t enjoy much screen time. Sadly, it’s the only overall unique feature in comparison to Gears of War, but never goes anywhere.
– Close, but no cigar…on second thought, maybe not even that close. If you choose to copy someone, you shoot for the best, right? Quantum Theory borrows everything from Gears of War, right down to the controller input and gameplay mechanics. Once in a blue moon, it works as intended; you move from one cover to the next, taking out hoards of enemies in behind-the-back third-person perspective. It doesn’t come close to Epic Games’ over-the-top shooters, but at least it’s functional. You see, it boils down to balance. Like any decent developer and/or designer with a cover-based shooter in mind, it’s critical to make sure the player can hide behind a sizable amount of structures in the environment, not to mention present enough enemy pressure so you’re inclined to move to the next cover. Failure to balance either of these results in your game falling apart immediately. You may find your characters fumbling around the stage, desperate to stay in cover, only to have enemies suddenly spawn from behind. On the other hand, dozens of pillars standing tall with only a few opponents to defeat can be a common, absurd occurrence as well.
– AI. Enemies are programmed to do one of two actions: charge mindlessly or hide behind cover and pop out every two seconds to shoot. This predictability makes it a breeze to dispatch covered enemies. Charging ones, however, tell a completely different story. Forced to disengage cover manually, you die too often because you can’t properly react to enemies’ attacks.
– Poor checkpoints. The time between checkpoints is bizarre, and there are challenging sequences inbetween. In any decent shooter, a checkpoint is usually set up right before a boss, puzzle or even a tough section. Quantum Theory, on the other hand, functions like this: checkpoint; easy area to conquer; an insanely difficult cover section where you have to play perfectly in order to survive. Can’t quite master that last section? Tough luck: you must restart and replay the easier part. It doesn’t add up.
– Had enough? I could detail other flaws like the bare-bones online multiplayer, lack of co-op, sub-par graphics, unimpressive voice acting and music; but there’s no point. You have the gist by now. When a developer tries to carbon copy a AAA release, it never flies and almost always results in a lackluster effort. If you take ideas from a great game, make sure to step up to the plate, or end up wailing in embarrassment.
The worst part of the experience is the story. There’s nothing to look forward to in this tale, so I’ll just follow my mother’s advice. If I can’t say anything nice about something, then I won’t say anything at all.
Quantum Theory must be avoided. While I appreciate Tecmo KOEI handing us a copy for review, I hope they read everything here. I don’t want Japanese developers to give up on genres popular in North America, but they have to prove themselves with other titles before devoting precious time and resources to a big-budget project such as this.