Apr 24 2016
When I saw the first Quantum Break teaser trailer a couple of years ago, I thought that I looked at a real platform seller: A game that makes buying an Xbox One an obvious choice.
Then the Xbox One was released, but the release date for Quantum Break kept slipping and slipping until the Xbox One was already in her third year and the game that was supposed to lead the launch titles for the new platform was several years late to the party. That alone was disappointing enough, but it’s not the real issue with Quantum Break.
It’s not a secret that I’m a big fan of story-driven shooters, and I think it’s also not a big secret that I think that the original Half-Life still is one of the best games in that category that was ever made. The folks at Valve did everything right in Half-Life. Back then it was a jaw-dropping experience and even today it still manages to pull you directly into its realm of fiction. Half-Life is a standard-defining classic. You are deep in a story, move through it, play it, breath and live it. Sure, the plot is static and has no dynamic elements (except for the two choices in the ending, maybe). But the player is always actively involved in everything.
Remedy’s Alan Wake fulfilled all of these criteria as well. It had a very strong narrative that did not get in the way of the game flow or harmed the game play in anyway. Alan Wake just felt right and the atmosphere sucked you into the game world right from the start. Like Half-Life, Alan Wake is a master piece in its own right.
In Quantum Break, none of this is the case. Quantum Break feels like you’re watching a TV series and are allowed to hit the fire button once in a while. They were not satisfied with giving you scripted cut-scenes (which are completely okay in any game), they really had to show your four long TV show episodes in between where you can literally do nothing. Someone at the Remedy studios very obviously had completely forgotten what GAMING is all about.
To put this in context: I’m basically a casual player. I can only steal a few hours every now and then, usually on Friday nights, where I can play a game. So long games, where you would have to spend weeks playing through a story, are not a good choice for me in this scenario. But games with a net playing time of four or six hours or so also not necessarily satisfying. And the net playing time – read: the time where you can actually DO something – in Quantum Break is very, very short. You spend half of the time watching TV in that game, and that really pissed me off. I watch movies or TV series on the ICE, when I’m commuting to my job. I don’t want to do that when I sit in my cozy little Xbox room and want to shoot things. When I wanted to play Quantum Break on the second evening, the sessions started with a very long TV show episode and by the time I could actually continue playing the game, I was extremely annoyed and close to wiping it from the disk and play something else instead.
It really didn’t help that the story line itself is mediocre at best and just not very interesting. Everything has already been done before, and mostly better.
The same can be said about the game play, the level design and the game mechanics, by the way. Timeshift has done similar things years ago on the Xbox 360, and it was much more fun. Singularity had some of the concepts as well, and was also more fun and more interesting.
As much as Remedy outdid themselves on Alan Wake, as much of a disappointment is Quantum Break in direct comparison. Maybe the expectations just were too high after all these years. Maybe the bar that Alan Wake had set was just too high for any successor to reach.