Quantum Theory
Developer: Tecmo Koei
Publisher: Tecmo Koei
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1, 2-8 online
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I imagine that, as I did 18 months ago or so, when you first see Quantum Theory in action you’ll be reminded of Gears of War. One problem with this is, it didn’t look as good as Gears even then and now Gears is four years old. QT hasn’t changed and it seems to have taken a long time to arrive, and it hasn’t aged well. The hero of the story is a humanoid-but-not-human warrior called Syd (no, really he is) and is of a similar body-armour-clad massive physical specimen as Marcus & Dom. The game plays in a similar way to Gears for the most part; a third-person (or is it second?) actioner with covering and shooting making up the lion’s share of the gameplay.

Unlike Gears however, Quantum Theory’s plot is altogether more fantasy-based and is frankly, mental. The story goes that Syd and his female companion Nyx are trying to destroy some treacherous towers (known as ‘Arks’) that contain an unknown force that wishes to cause an apocalypse (or something equally fantastic and generally bad for the human race). The tower is full of organic motifs with bizarre art nouveau-style décor and technology, and provides a claustrophobic, morphing game world that will truly mess your head up a bit. The weirdness abounds as the scenery looks like a cross between a H.R. Giger nightmare and a Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen makeover… Syd and Nyx destroy the first Ark but sadly Nyx doesn’t make it out...

Anyhoo, the story flashes forward, as Syd finds his way to a devastated city in which another Ark lies. Years after a global war practically wiped out the human race, some of the survivors have set up a community known as “Cocoon” in the city. Their post-apocalyptic lifestyle comes under threat from a black material called “Erosion”, that has started to ooze from the Ark and attack and destroy the rest of the city. A militia unit is formed and tasked with conquering the Erosion and its living embodiments which are called “the Diablosis.”

The Ark is a massive “Living Tower,” a strangely-constructed edifice that no one knows the origins of. As I mentioned earlier, you play as Syd (no, really, that is his name), who is found by the militia and sides with them, their only intentions are to destroy the Tower, whatever it takes. Syd ascends the second tower and meets the beautiful and mysterious Filena, both in a search for answers. They form an alliance to combat the second Ark’s Diablosis defences, the only problem being that Syd wants to destroy the tower and everything within while for some reason Filena only wants to destroy the Diablosis…

The Diablosis defence guards can appear almost anywhere at any time, and these are called “Nosferatu.” Despite looking double-hard armoured humanoids, these spiky warriors pop and explode like overripe melons when they’ve absorbed all the hits they can take, and as they’re well armoured elsewhere head shots are the best way of dispatching them quickly. A head shot is also rewarded with a nice close-up slo-mo of the head popping, which they do with extreme goo-splattering messiness. The Diablosis come in various forms, most are humanoid and bipedal, some are massive, some are arachnid, some fly and some are just nightmarish mutants.

Exploring the Ark is a bizarre experience as it sometimes looks colourful, like a Fairy Castle, and then the next location may be a shape-shifting jaggy battlefield that changes at the Ark's will. You might think you know where you are or which way you’re facing but the next moment everything changes or you get moved to somewhere else riding along on a granula (a huge jagged chunk of rock-like substance) and until you get your bearings again this can cause some serious disorientation, especially as all the morphing takes place in real-time, as you play—at times it brought back memories of the Soul Reaver games.

Quantum Theory starts out playing and looking like a rather inferior remake of the much-aforementioned Gears of War as you fight your way through the city to the second tower’s base and heavily-protected entrance. Once you enter you meet up with Filena, and you soon find that she’s a lot more than a nicely animated pair of boobs—unlike many AI partners this girl certainly holds up her end of the fight. In a sort of virtual co-op relationship Syd and Filena (or Nyx, briefly) combine with a couple of different dual combination actions; basically you hurl Filena towards the enemy (with a press & hold of ‘LB’) and if you’ve aimed accurately enough she performs fierce and powerful attack, if you miss she’ll continue battling from that position, steadily returning to your side until you hurl the poor girl somewhere else. If you just tap ‘LB’ she’ll do a stun attack, frazzing enemies with an electrical bolt and locking them in place so you can deal them damage. You can also perform a melee attack with Syd (press ‘X’) or turn this into a Filena-combo with subsequent well-timed presses of ‘X’ or ‘Y’. I said “if you’ve aimed accurately enough” and this is the Filena-combo’s one annoying feature; she loves to hit foreground scenery rather than just go where you aimed, so you have to make sure she has a wide enough aiming corridor to get to the target-not really something extra you needed on your plate when fighting for your life.

Combat can often be taken slow and tactically, using the mostly workable cover mode (press ‘A’) you’ll take out much of the enemy from cover. The cover mode only sometimes fails to work, with Syd stubbornly refusing to aim in a direction you want to or blankly refusing to cover on some surfaces that you clearly should be able to, and will certainly want to. One of QT’s biggest flaws is that the aiming is horribly twitchy, and no amount of fiddling with the sensitivity slider helped. At some point further into the game the designers decided that the enemy should become more mobile and the game more dynamic, but the close third person viewpoint and Syd’s sluggish movement means this makes tracking and aiming at an enemy extremely tricky, bordering on the impossible at times, and you feel you should have had a “lock on” similar to other third person action games like Zelda or Devil May Cry, so you could circle an enemy and not have to worry about keeping your weapon pointed in the right direction. Fortunately between the identical-to-Gears “roadie run” sprint (hold ‘A’), the evasive roll (‘B’ + any direction) and covering until Syd’s health recovers you’ll manage to scrape through some horrendously punishing battles. Some enemies are also so devastatingly accurate and hit so hard that you will die several times before you figure out how to beat them, and this is probably the case even if playing the game on its “easy” setting.

The enemy become plentiful when you enter the tower and they’re accurate too, unless you play the game on “Easy” being shot means a ridiculous amount of “red out” when taking damage, and given that much of the scenery inside the tower is predominantly red this means sometimes the entire screens gets washed in RED, and you can’t see a bloody thing, never mind aim at it to shoot it or run for cover. Too. Much. Red.

Oh, and did I miss the meeting where gamers and game developers got together and agreed that everyone wants to play games in which enemies can kill you with one melee hit, or fire such mighty weapons that they kill you in one shot, or stun you so badly that you don’t recover in time to avoid getting hit again and again (and again) and killed anyway?

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I found the voice acting was sometimes unintentionally hilarious, but that could just be down to the bizarre plot and the dialogue it demands. There are some nicely done cut-scenes and static screens that fill in the story, but Quantum Theory is not a pretty game, with undemanding textures and far too many samey locations. The character models are extremely last-gen looking, only Filena’s hooters and the various armour worn by the combatants seem to have had any care lavished on them. The weapons are mostly alien-looking versions of traditional projectile-firing guns (shotguns, carbines, rocket/grenade launchers, sniper rifle etc) with a few sci-fi weapons that seem to have very limited uses—one “rifle” I found you literally had to stand toe to toe with the target and just keep firing its particle accelerator ray-thing until they exploded, and it was probably the only weapon that would have got me past this particular pair of mighty enemies too.

The game also supports online multiplayer play but sadly no co-op mode. The MP modes are Executioner (2-8 straight deathmatch), Dead or Alive (4-8 team deathmatch), Guardian (one player is randomly chosen as a female character and the other players must keep her alive), or a user defined DM in which you can select the type, respawn time, friendly fire on/off etc. There are 5 maps based on settings from the story mode, but good luck finding anyone to play with, we tried on numerous occasions and only found other lone reviewers who’d had the same problems finding anyone to play with. When you do get in a game it plays similarly to the non-Filena parts of the story mode, but it soon gets tired with too few people playing, basic gameplay and only 5 depressingly similar maps to play on.

So there it is, Quantum Theory isn’t a bad game as such, but it doesn’t do anything particularly well either, and seems confused as to what sort of game it actually wants to be. Its one decent original idea (girly-throwing) is slightly flawed and the multiplayer game isn’t going to occupy anyone for long (if at all). The game’s almost unfathomable plot naturally leant it to co-op play, so why no co-op mode? And yet I kind of enjoyed it, despite the clunky gameplay, art nouveau, warts and all, but oh man was I glad when it was over... Maybe it’s just a craving for Gears 3.

Best Bits

- Throwing Filena enemy-wards and watching her kick ass is fun.
Worst Bits

- Samey, flawed gameplay and locations.
- Some really crap weapons.
- Difficulty spikes.
- Crazy damage “red out.”
- Nutty plot.
- No co-op mode.

by: Diddly

Copyright © Gamecell 2010