By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on April 12, 2016
Today, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to talk to you about time. Now, I don't know about you, but if I was time, I would have given up a long time ago! Especially in today's games and movies, everywhere you look time is getting distorted, rewound, misused and squandered. Poor time; it seems it can never just pass by as it was supposed to. I think it's about time that time took a little time for itself, or there may be no more time in no time... Damn, now I've gone and confused myself!
“What's the deal with you and time?", I hear some of you ask. Well, I've been playing Quantum Break, the latest game by Remedy Entertainment and Microsoft Studios; a game for PC and Xbox One that has everything to do with the misuse of time and the effects this has on the lives of the people involved. In Quantum Break, we assume the role of Jack Joyce; a normal young man who receives an invitation from an old friend of his, Paul Serene, to come visit the Physics campus and witness what Paul calls “The greatest discovery of all time".
Once Jack arrives at the campus, he discovers that Paul has built upon the original plans of Jack's brother, Will, and built himself a working time machine. And what have we learned about time machines? Mostly, that using them can only end in tears, or time fractures, or even the end of the world! Quantum Break is no exception to this rule; shortly after firing up the machine, things go awry. And not just awry, oh no! Time itself seems to go pear-shaped, leaving Jack with a couple of mysterious time-controlling powers, a somewhat smaller family and a brand new nemesis, who has the same powers as Jack, but seems to have had quite some practice as to how to use these powers. Jack sets off to right past wrongs and, hopefully, save the world from impending doom in the process.
Quantum Break is a third person shooter, platform puzzle game that relies heavily on controlling time. As Jack Joyce, you make your way through hazardous environments by stopping or rewinding time, while dispatching armed enemies left and right. Of course, what goes for environments, also goes for enemies. You can stop enemies dead in their tracks by hitting them with a time blast, which freezes the targeted enemy in time. And while he's frozen in time, why not empty a clip of SMG bullets into him as well? Another trick up Jack's sleeve is the Time Dodge; a very fast that get's Jack out of harm's way in the blink of an eye. Much like the Time Dodge, the Time Rush allows Jack to move very quickly. But, rather than being a defensive move, Time Rush let's Jack appear right next to an enemy and take him down instantly with a powerful melee attack. Jack can also use a Time Shield, that deflects incoming projectiles, speed up time to confuse enemies and, as you might suspect, simply take cover behind walls, cupboards and such.
Now, using time as a gameplay mechanic is far from new. Some of you might remember the 2007 shooter TimeShift did something similar. Alas, this particular game didn't quite have the finesse modern day games do, which resulted in less than perfect gameplay and quite a bit of annoyance. Although it wasn't, by any means, a bad game, it didn't quite get it right back then. So although, at first, I had my reservations about using time as a gameplay mechanic to this extent, I must say that Quantum Break handles like a dream; its control scheme is really intuitive and does just what it is supposed to do: let you control the game without being annoyed by fiddly controls and non-reactive commands. Getting Jack through an environment is as easy as certain girls are on Saturday night (and no, I'm not worried I might offend someone because, let's be honest, people like that usually don't play videogames, let alone read my reviews).
Anyhow, making use of your time-controlling powers is really easy, which makes for awesome moments during a firefight. Just imagine; you enter a construction site and some guard spots you. This, in turn, alerts his guard-buddies and they all start converging on your position, so what will you do? Might I suggest hitting the guard in front of you with a Time Blast, put a couple pounds of lead in him and Time Dodge into cover. Then, using your Time Rush, zip across the yard and give the unsuspecting guard that is hiding behind a column the mother of all headaches by hitting him in the head. After the melee take-down of the century, dispatch another guard by making that previously suspended container become very much unsuspended and land on top of him. Then, just for old time's sake, shoot the remaining guard until he dies of it. There, a job well done!
Quantum Break's story is spread out over five Acts. At the end of each act, the player takes control of Paul Serene for a short while and is presented with a choice that has a serious impact on the part of the story that is still to come. After reaching a decision, a live-action section is played, portraying the effects of your choice. These TV show-like segments serve to tell the story in a much more detailed way than the game itself ever could and are, as far as I'm concerned, a very welcome and cool addition to the Quantum Break universe. Have you ever had to choose between watching a TV show or playing a game? Well, with Quantum Break, you don't have to; it truly combines the best of both worlds!
I have always been somewhat partial to third-person action adventure games and Quantum Break fits that bill perfectly! A thrilling story, top-notch graphics and audio, exceptionally cool characters and awesome gameplay make this game a title you will definitely not want to miss! Now, if I only had the time to play some more... Oh, that's right, I control time... Awesome, let's go!