Review: Quantum Theory (Sony PS3)

Quantum Theory
Developer: Tecmo
Publisher: Tecmo Koei America Corp
Genre: Third Person Shooter
Release Date: 09/28/2010

Quantum Theory, on first blush, looks like a thrilling third person shooter with some dynamic changing environments, a partner mechanic and an inclusion of the ever-popular cover mechanics so prevalent in shooters these days. But is it a gem in the wasteland of shooters, or merely another in a long line of wannabees?

Story/Modes
The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed. Seriously, this game’s storyline felt like some kind of weird mishmash of Gears of War and the Dark Tower series. Let’s talk about the Story mode first, shall we? At some point in the game’s past, there was a war, and the last bits of humanity are struggling to hold on. There are towers that rose in the cities, and one particular tower had only been dominating the landscape and not doing much of anything until recently. Now the Diablosis, a churning bit of nastiness, is infecting people and converting over the landscape, and a team is assembled to go in to find out what’s doing this.

Enter Syd, a mysterious man with a mysterious weapon who’s very adept at killing the infected. We know this as Syd is introduced in a bit of gameplay before the team arrives showing him taking out another tower in another part of the world. Syd agrees to go with them, mainly because he thinks they’ll be a nice distraction for his own way inside. It doesn’t go well for the rest of the team with you, and Syd very quickly is left to his own devices in the tower, taking out enemies as he moves through looking for power generators to take the tower out.

Syd then meets a mysterious girl, Filena, who’s fighting the enemies he is, but doesn’t want him taking out the tower as her father runs it, though she knows something has gone horribly wrong. At first she is trying to take you out, but then decides to team with you, adding the mechanic you were first introduced to in the prologue back into the mix. Syd really knows way more about the towers than he lets on, and Filena begins to trust him, but with what happened in the prologue section you really know what’s coming for the tower if Syd is involved, and more than likely Filena’s fate as well.

The story is a bit predictable, and the characters very dull, even with what appears to be an attempt at quick wit and humor. Syd is supposed to be the Snake Plissken type, but is completely lacking any of the charm that would make you care about him, and Filena has very little personality to go along with it. So you move through the corridors and rooms of the tower not really caring about where the story is going, as you have a pretty good idea, and have no real investment in the characters because they’re pretty flat and boring.

So is multiplayer the saving grace for this game? Not really. You’ve got two main options, ranked and un-ranked, and within those options either Deathmatch or Team Deathmatch, called Executioner and Dead or Alive respectively. I literally spent 30 minutes waiting for a Team Deathmatch (Dead or Alive) game to get off the ground and gave up after 15 minutes on Deathmatch (Executioner). Multiplayer is pretty much a ghost town for this game. Not a good sign considering the game hasn’t been out that long. But with a complete lack of variety in characters, weapons, maps or even multiplayer games to choose from, there’s not much to interest most people. While I was playing it was always the same map every time. Transformers War For Cybertron wiped the floor with this game’s multiplayer on release and it was a licensed title, not a new property.

Story/Modes Rating: Below Average

Graphics
Visually, the game does do some interesting things with the monster designs. Even Syd has a rather unique look, but while it’s trying to be all cutting edge, it falls flat on the environments. Most of them are really bland, and after you get into the tower, repetitive does not even begin to cover it. There are some minor differences between areas in the tower, but it’s not enough to say you’re moving along, and when one room looks like any other you’ve been in it really feels like you’re going nowhere. While I’d love to say the game is a feast for the eyes, it’s really not.

Some of the areas blend too well and you can’t tell where you’re supposed to go. The camera is placed in a good spot so you so you won’t have any issues there, but visually it’s a jumble most of the time that could have used another layer of polish to really make it work, or more distinction on areas as you moved through the tower. Right now it feels a few years behind some of the other titles I’ve played this year, having that washed out look that was so popular when the current gen hit the market.

I do applaud the designers for moving away from the mostly clean look of the mobs you’re fighting as well as getting away from that with the main guy you play, but it’s almost like they went so far in the other direction that it’s a visual mess you have to fight against on top of the creatures you’re fighting and the tower’s blandness.

Graphics Rating: Above Average

Sound
While there’s some decent voice acting going on, there’s not much here I’d recommend for the audio inclined. The music is quite generic and forgettable, the sound effects are all variations on things I’ve heard before, and while the voice actors did a competent job delivering their lines,the dialogue is really nothing to write home about anyway. At one point while I was reviewing the game I was up late and didn’t want to wake up my wife, so I muted it, and the experience didn’t change a bit for me. That’s telling ya something right there.

Sound Rating: Mediocre

Control and Gameplay
The game controls are set up like your basic over the shoulder shooter. The left stick moves you around, directional buttons pick up weapons and ammo as well as cycle through your weapons, the face buttons offer up the cover, melee, evasion, run, jump and partner attack options. It sounds like a lot for the face buttons to do but it works quite well for the layout and when you’re playing. The right stick is your camera and how you aim when you go into aiming mode with L1, L2 launches your partner into a crowd of enemies for some nice melee attacks at range, R1 fires your weapon and R2 reloads it. Lastly R3 will look in the direction of your next target. Controls are pretty responsive, but when you’re running it’s very hard to maneuver and if you hit something you can take cover behind when you’re trying to be mobile, you will drop into cover. Also I had to crank up camera movement to be able to aim quick enough to respond to the enemy AI and in multiplayer.

Gameplay wise, this plays a LOT like a certain other game with a cover mechanic. Cover in the actual story mode is great, but in multiplayer it’s about useless. I was getting nailed behind cover all over the place even when they shouldn’t have had a shot at me. In story mode the AI uses it well, and you won’t get shot through it like you will in multiplayer… well, unless the enemy destroys whatever cover you’re behind, which can happen as well. You can either pop up and aim from behind cover, which exposes you to fire, or you can blind fire, which only pops up your one arm and gives you a bit of aiming… but don’t expect great results unless they’re right on top of you.

Because cover can get blown out in front of you and new cover will be added due to the tower shifting, there’s an interesting mechanic there. As you destroy sections you’ll have to run and jump and even ride some pretty nasty critters around to get to where you want to go next. If you jump to a piece of slanted or falling debris you’ll cling to it, and you can climb it to get up to safety if you’re quick enough.

I got most of my mileage out of the partner mechanic though. She’ll move around and fire at things as well as make some nice melee attacks, but you can launch her at larger enemies to land a nice punch, or slash as the case may be, which you can follow up with a quick burst from one of your guns to bring down the big stuff much faster. You’ve also got some nice attacks when she’s near you and you’ve used your melee attack, as you can combo it in to wipe out a group of mobs very quickly.

I’ve seen something like this mechanic used elsewhere, but not in any of the shooters I’ve played before, so I really liked its inclusion here, though it wasn’t enough to really keep my interest. Multiplayer is a bit annoying though. While you’ve got a few characters to choose from, the girls can’t take a hit but can move much faster and can’t generally dish out the damage as fast so they’ve got no real speed bonus to weapons firing rate. The standard male characters have more beef to them and can take more punishment as well as dish it out through weapons choice, so there’s no real good reason to play the females, even if you’re a girl. Also, be careful what you pick before you jump in a match, as you’ll be stuck with that character through the match. That’s right, if your whole team is a bunch of girls (no offense ladies, I didn’t design the game) you’ll get creamed because you can’t change out to something that’ll help your team better. Not a great design choice, but like I said before, you probably won’t be playing multiplayer much with this.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Good

Replayability
While there are some trophies to unlock and a passing nod to multiplayer, honestly I think this is a one and done game for most people. I’m probably not going to revisit it very often and there’s not enough of an online presence to sustain it for any amount of time there. The story isn’t all that compelling and I didn’t like the characters much. Even with three difficulty settings I can’t really see many people coming back to this title.

Replayability Rating: Poor

Balance
You’ve got a choice of three difficulty settings you can choose from every time you fire up the game, even when you’re continuing the story from where you last saved, which is kinda neat. Balance-wise, they did some interesting things with the multiplayer as far as weapons go, but as I mentioned earlier, the gulf between what amounts to classes in multiplayer really hurts this end of it. There’s no real reason to play someone who can move faster if you don’t have access to the ability to kill offending players faster, especially since one or two good hits will put you down when it takes 5 or more on the guys unless you’re getting sniped. While the levels are huge, and there’s multiplayer and so on, the game really doesn’t feel like it’s giving you all it should for a $60 title. If you’re still thinking about getting this game, wait for a price drop, and even then I’d look for something else. There are better and cheaper options out there for the PS3.

Balance Rating: Below Average

Originality
Yeah remember my Dark Tower and Gears of War comments earlier? I meant them. There’s lots of things lifted from other sources here. From the characters to the setting, even the mechanics of the game have been done elsewhere and were better implemented. Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch only? Seriously? Where’s the variety? Where’s the innovation? It’s not here folks. This is as borrowed as it gets and it’s not even borrowed well. I usually don’t mind seeing things done over again but not if they can’t do it in a new way or unless it’s an improvement over what we’d had before, and there’s nothing new to see here.

Originality Rating: Very Bad

Addictiveness
I really had to force myself to play this. There’s no real investment here, nothing that grabbed me and said that I had to play this. Hell, even the multiplayer was working against me with that wonderful 30 minute wait on the Team Deatchmatch. Usually there’s something about a game that can hold my attention, but Quantum Theory just couldn’t do it.

Addictiveness Rating: Poor

Appeal Factor
A fairly generic game with a lackluster multiplayer showing and no real replay value. It looks flashy and action packed, but the way you have to use cover makes it feel plodding and slow. There’s virtually nothing out there about this game and I hadn’t even seen any advertising for it. With word of mouth also not there for this title and no real great qualities to the game, I’m not seeing it appealing to many people. It does play well in story mode and the controls are great, but flashy graphics and great controls aren’t enough to get people to play anymore.

Appeal Factor Rating: Poor

Miscellaneous
While I haven’t been particularly flattering to this game, one thing I did notice about it is that the load times were short, there weren’t any glitches or bugs that I came across while I was playing, there were no disconnects in multiplayer once I was in a match, and the game moved along pretty well once I was in. If anything, it is solid and stable on that end, which is awesome. I’m not too fond of the 5 gig install sitting on my PS3, but that’s becoming more and more standard and I’m betting one or two more games and I’m going to have to wipe some things off the hard drive to make room for other games.

Miscellaneous Rating: Great

The Scores
Story/Modes Rating: Below Average
Graphics Rating: Above Average
Sound Rating: Mediocre
Control and Gameplay Rating: Good
Replayability Rating: Poor
Balance Rating: Below Average
Originality Rating: Very Bad
Addictiveness Rating: Poor
Appeal Factor Rating: Poor
Miscellaneous Rating: Great

FINAL SCORE: MEDIOCRE GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
asheresizeWhile Quantum Theory doesn’t do anything new or revolutionary, it doesn’t really do what it does with much enthusiasm. Multiplayer isn’t clunky, but there’s not much variety and not many people online with it. The story could be more involved and the characters more interesting, but it is solid and stable. If you’re looking for a good third person shooter with a partner and cover mechanic, there are better out there and cheaper to boot. I’d recommend waiting on this one to drop in price a bit if you are interested, but by then, I’m sure the multiplayer will have died down so I hope you enjoy a fairly predictable story mode to go with it.

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