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← Quantum Break Review

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Showing Revision 5 created 03/19/2018 by bunnysteak.

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    "This is what you need to know."
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    "Time broke, a growing fracture leading to
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    the end of time."
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    "And of course,
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    time travels."
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    "Jack!"
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    "Going too fast for you?"
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    Quantum Break is the latest third-person
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    shooter from Remedy, the same studio that
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    that brought us Max Payne way back in 2001,
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    and boy, does that lineage show.
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    Like that game, this one revolves around a
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    flashy gimmick that serves to differentiate
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    its gameplay a bit from that of other, more
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    straightforward third-person shooters.
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    And like Max Payne, as well as Remedy’s
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    2010 game Alan Wake, it stars a dude
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    who cannot stop narrating his story for us.
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    Sadly, Quantum Break’s story is just a mess.
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    Because of reasons, time is fractured,
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    stuttering with increasing frequency and
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    possibly approaching a point at which
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    it just breaks down completely.
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    Different men have different ideas
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    about how to deal with this problem,
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    and they fight with each other while
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    uttering standard lines of dialogue like
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    “It doesn’t have to end like this.”
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    There are very few clear rules established
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    in Quantum Break about how time works.
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    It just behaves in whatever way it needs
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    to behave to throw the characters into
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    another complication or to give the
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    main character new powers.
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    Things just happen because they’re
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    convenient for the story, so there’s
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    nothing clearly at stake.
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    You might argue that the quality of
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    the story in a game like this isn’t all
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    that important, but the thing is that
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    Quantum Break really wants you to
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    care about its story.
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    You see, Quantum Break is one part game,
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    one part live action TV show,
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    and a good chunk of your time is spent
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    watching the four live-action episodes
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    that play out over the course of the game.
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    And they’re just such generically bad TV,
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    filled with cliché dialogue and cookie
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    cutter characters, right down to the comic
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    relief tech geek hacker type that seems
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    to be a necessity these days in every
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    mediocre crime drama.
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    There are a few fine actors here, including
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    Lance Reddick, who proves he can bring
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    gravitas to even the goofiest material.
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    But the most that decent acting can do
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    here is serve as a smokescreen to distract
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    us from just how bad the story actually is.
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    Quantum Break is, at its core, a tale of
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    three men. You play as Jack Joyce, a man
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    who comes away from a time travel mishap
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    with the ability to manipulate time in specific ways.
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    It’s sort of like last year’s adventure game
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    Life Is Strange, only instead of using its
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    concept to explore relationships and
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    serious, real-life issues like bullying and
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    suicide, Quantum Break just uses it as a
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    source for spectacle.
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    Jack’s brother Will is an eccentric genius,
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    and the villain, Paul Serene, is a powerful
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    CEO of a massive corporation named Monarch.
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    Both Will and Paul’s characters are just
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    recycled archetypes without any new flavoring.
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    Quantum Break doesn’t even try to break
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    from traditional male-dominated convention here.
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    The TV show portion of this game also
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    spends a lot of time on a supporting character
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    named Liam Burke. Burke gets into weird
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    escalator kick fights!
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    Burke unleashes manly screams while
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    strangling someone to death in a hospital
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    as a bunch of people just stand around and watch!
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    Burke has a pregnant wife who he would
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    do anything—ANYTHING—to protect.
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    Games and other mainstream media often
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    reinforce the false notion of women as fragile
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    and men as protectors whose role and
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    responsibility requires them to do anything
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    to either protect or avenge their families
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    —Max Payne was definitely in this mold, too—
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    but Burke is a particularly bland and
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    formulaic take on this character type,
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    and that’s really saying something.
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    In Quantum Break, men are the prime actors
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    and doers. Men are the ones with vision and
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    ambition, who set things in motion and who
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    then do whatever they can to make things
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    go their way. The only female character
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    who gets any real development is Beth Wilder,
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    who helps Jack for reasons that aren’t
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    immediately clear. In one of the game’s
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    only moments that even come close to generating
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    actual interest in its characters, we do
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    eventually get to know Beth’s history and
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    her motivations. Her main purpose here,
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    though, is to serve as a love interest for
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    Jack, and she’s ultimately more important
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    for the emotional impact she has on him
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    than she is as an individual in her own right.
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    It’s also worth noting that like most of
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    the enemies, Beth works security for the
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    Monarch corporation. She must be the only
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    woman on a team otherwise made up of
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    hundreds of men, because there are no
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    female combatants in the game.
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    As for the combat, there’s a certain novelty
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    for a little while to the spectacle of
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    Quantum Break’s action.
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    Seeing environments shatter in slow motion
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    and seeing people get stuck in time looks pretty cool.
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    But that’s all it does. Quantum Break’s
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    structure feels overly familiar and predictable,
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    from the heavy enemies it introduces with
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    the weak points on their backs to the
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    checkpoints near the end in which it throws
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    so many enemies at you that you just
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    want it all to be over.
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    It’s unfortunate that Quantum Break’s
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    ambition to tell video game stories in a
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    new way is wasted on a story that doesn’t
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    do anything new.
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    The game doesn’t seem to care if it makes
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    any sense or if its story actually tries to say anything.
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    All it cares about is being “awesome” in
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    the most insubstantial way possible,
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    in the sense that it’s “awesome” to watch
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    a locomotive crash again and again and again.
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    There’s nothing underneath. Maybe, maybe
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    in 2001 when Max Payne came out, a flashy
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    gimmick was enough to make the mere act
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    of filling hundreds of dudes with bullets
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    more than a hollow exercise. But not now.
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    We’re not actually stuck in time. But playing
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    Quantum Break, it sure feels like we are.