If there is one thing the gaming industry if full of it is clones and it’s not due to lack of inspiration by the developers or creators, it’s because when you see something that works, you want to continue with it and the best way to go about that is to copy it. Epic didn’t reinvent the third-person shooter with Gears of War when it released in 2006, but that game evolved the genre and since then many developers are playing catch up when it comes to third-person shooters. Tecmo took the basic formula of Gears of War, created a new story and characters, and then packaged it and shipped it. Veterans of the Gears franchise will instantly feel a sense of déjà vu when playing Quantum Theory; unfortunately it may not be for the best.
You’ll assume the role of Syd, a muscular individual that seems only interested in killing mutants and destroying the towers that contain diablosis – a strange substance that turns anyone it touches into a mutant. Syd is a lot of man and he isn’t afraid to kick ass and shoot anything that gets in his way. Much like Marcus in Gears of War, Syd isn’t much on words and would rather show you his intentions through his actions. Since there isn’t a squadron of people to march alongside Syd in the game, the only character to balance is macho personality will be the nimble Filena – a mysterious woman that also desires to stop the diablosis spread. With a joint goal in mind, Syd and Filena team up to battle mutants, traverse the tower, and hope to stop the diablosis before matters get even bleaker. You can get the general idea that the relationship between the two of them is supposed to have meaning, but the game’s dialogue and narrative don’t properly convey that idea strong enough to make you care or feel a connection. So, in the end, you won’t form a relationship with either character and your main motivation in playing will be to shoot a lot of enemies and that’s about it.
Even with a weak narrative and lackluster starring cast of characters present, you can usually forgive that if the game’s gameplay is strong enough to draw you in. Sadly, Quantum Theory doesn’t do that all that well. Again, much like Gears of War, you’ll move from room to room and shoot a lot of enemies. For the most part the shooting aspect of the game is well done, but it’s has some very noticeable flaws that will bother any type of gamer. Aiming and shooting feels very slow and even the most intense firefights are boring to sit through. You don’t feel the sense of urgency or pressure coming from the enemy like you would normally in a third-person shooter. Instead, the enemy AI is horrendous. They don’t try to get into cover, have predictable patterns that make it easy to shoot their head off, and they never advance on you in a way that will invoke fear. Basically, they are brain-dead mutants that are programmed to walk and shoot. The most fun that can be attributed to these walking monstrosities is that when you get a headshot on one of them, the game slows down and zooms in on the head exploding. It’s pretty cool to see, but you’ll do it so often it’ll lose its charm rather quickly. Filena is useful in battle as she can be used as a weapon. Syd has the option of throwing Filena at enemies and she will slice them up with her blade or act as a decoy, but this feature doesn’t feel that fleshed out and will quickly be forgotten by many.
The lack of inspiration is further shown in the game’s level design. Conceptually, traveling through the tower is a cool idea, but when every room lacks imagination and heart, it feels repetitive, boring, and otherwise uninspired. For the vast majority of the game you’ll sit in cover, shoot the wave of oncoming enemies, unlock a new door, and then perform the same task again and again. Randomly the game will toss some variety your way with an on-rail type segment where Syd is riding a massive flying creature around the tower, but the camera is a mess in these spots, it lasts too long, and it’s not much fun. It’s cool to see the first time, but that’s about it. Repetitiveness is also in the game’s visuals. All the rooms and enemies look the same. Visually the game isn’t bad, but with the environments and enemies all the looking the same it creates a boring world.
Quantum Theory can be beaten in ten hours, but that’s not all to the game. There is a full multiplayer mode to be explored here and, not surprisingly, it can be more fun than the actual single-player game. Three game modes are presented: Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and protect a character mode, along with five maps. It may be a bit bare-bone, but deathmatch can be fun if there are people playing the game. In our test it was difficult to find enough players to get a match started, but the game ran smoothly and was pretty fun. The biggest issue with the multiplayer will be finding players and the lack of features.
Quantum Theory isn’t a terrible game; it’s just not a very good one. It clearly takes a lot of inspiration from Gears of War and tries to build around that, but, in the end, it falls short due to uninspired game design, characters, and repetitive level design. It can be fun if you are willing to look by all the glaring issues, though it’ll be hard to do so.
(Editor’s Note: A review copy was provided by Temco Koei for this review. A total of 14hrs was spent with the game and the single-player was completed with several multiplayer matches conducted.)