Also available on Windows
Quantum Break is a unique game that attempts to bridge the gap between video game and television series, and it does it in a very unique way. Now at first, I was really unsure how I felt about this. If I want to watch TV, I'll watch TV; if I'm playing a video game, it's because I want to play a video game. Right? But the more I played the game, the more I started to warm up to the idea.
The basics of the plot are that you help an old friend of yours with an experiment involving temporal manipulation, but you guys *accidentally* tear a whole in space-time. Big, evil corporation paramilitary guys show up and try to kill you, drama ensues, bang bang third person shooter. What makes this more than just a generic third person shooter is the time manipulation powers you get from being exposed to the magical time radiation. You can do stuff like reverse time in a localized place (only in certain situations, not in battle), freeze a specific enemy, create a temporal "shield" to catch bullets, freeze time and move around the battlefield briefly, et cetera; and certain parts of the game take place in "stutters" where time has stopped but, because of your exposure to magical time radiation, you can still move around. Basically Life is Strange plus guns minus adorable main character.
The game is broken into five acts, each one roughly 60 to 90 minutes long where you play as Jack Joyce, the game's protagonist. After each act, you have a "Junction" where you play as Paul Serene, the game's antagonist, for maybe 10 minutes and make a choice. That's where the cool stuff comes in. The choice you make will affect the rest of the game dramatically. After each Junction is a 30 minute or so episode of an actual live-action show, and the episode that you see depends on the choices you made during the Junction, and some of the minor scenes may be included or excluded based on extra story events and items that you find during the levels. It takes the "Your actions affect the rest of the game" concept and crank it up to 11.
That's the part that I wasn't sure how I felt about at first - the episodes. Don't get me wrong, it's super cool. It just felt a little disjointed at first. I'd spent over an hour playing this pretty solid third person shooter in some fairly high action fights, and then I'd spend half an hour watching a TV show. Then I'd spend another hour-and-some-change playing. As the story gets going, though, you get so wrapped up in the plot that it becomes REALLY cool to see your decisions in the game affect what live action performance you're shown. It's certainly not going to be to everyone's taste, but I definitely applaud the developers for trying something different and, in my opinion, doing it quite well.
Now the game's not perfect. I've got a couple of major gripes. The game runs in 720p at 30 FPS. Normally that wouldn't be a big deal - I'm not a graphics whore - but for a machine that Microsoft brags about being so ridonkulously powerful, I feel like it should do better, and based on other Xbox One games I've played, I think it could have if the developers were more skilled with coding for the console. That's just a minor complaint, though; my big grip is with plot holes.
Either I'm an idiot, or there are a couple of REALLY big things left unexplained. I'm not talking like the end of Star Trek: Nemesis where we're all left wondering "Is Data really dead, or can they bring him back?" I'm talking like you watch Khan explode in the USS Reliant and then see him as a belly dancer on Risa three movies later. Like, how even? That level of plot hole. There's only one or two of those, though. The biggest plot gripe I have is a personal one that many may find frivolous - they did the bullshit end on a cliffhanger to set up a sequel crap. I HATE that stuff. Tell your damn story, and finish your damn story. If it sells well enough to warrant a sequel, write a new damn story. Don't leave me on a cliffhanger assuming I'll give a damn about what happens next.
Now what might be a big complaint for some people but didn't bother me is the length. Even including the live action parts, the game is only roughly 10 hours long. That's only about 8 hours or so of gameplay. I, personally, prefer a game tell its story in however long it takes and not extend that artificially just for the sake of having a longer game. Then again, I loved The Order: 1886 for the same reason - it did what it came to do in the time it took to do it, and it didn't needlessly drag it out. Some people will say - and I totally understand the feeling - that a game that costs $60 should provide more than a few short hours of entertainment. You're not wrong. However, given the huge replay value that the story branches give it, Quantum Break more than makes up for the length IMO.
If you're really into temporal sci-fi, check this game out. If you're a TV buff, check this game out. If you want an excuse to dust off the Xbox One since you play all of your multiplats on PS4 since it runs them better, check this one out. It's not a masterpiece, and I'd suggest waiting until the price drops to $40, but I enjoyed this one.
Also as a side note, if you have the game installed on your Xbox One, you can download the 78 GB or so "episode pack" that has all of the television parts if you just want to watch them each without replaying through a game a bunch of times. Not sure how it works on the PC version.
My Rating - 3 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.