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Quantum Break (PC) evaluation: A time-bending experience hobbled by technical accidents


Let's be clear: The very first half of this article isn't really so much a review of Quantum Break as it is a pan of the PC variation.

I mean, we'll get to Quantum Break the game. I love Quantum Break the video game! Treatment's little time-traveling game/TV show oddball won me over. Initially we need to deal with the state of this PC port-- be it on account of Microsoft or Remedy or the Jolly Green Giant for all I care-- since Quantum Break on the PC needs some work.

It's not the worst port I have actually ever played, which is a sad commentary on the state of some software application we've seen in the past couple of years. It's also not unplayable, despite some reports of frame rate concerns. I have actually played it, all the method through to the end. Parts of it I have actually played two times.


There aren't any game-breaking bugs to report-- no bugs really, at all. A few times I thought the hitboxing on opponents was a bit broken, but the game's so simple on PC (more on that later) that a 2nd shot to the head typically did the trick.

The issues here are more similar to the first Dark Souls PC port: A basic absence of polish, sporadic graphics alternatives, (apparently) bad optimization, a 30 frames-per-second lock that does not even work, no SLI/CrossFire assistance, and load-stuttering due to the fact that the video game was apparently developed for SSDs (despite the truth the Xbox One only has a 5200 RPM hard disk).

Oh, and rather of running natively at 1080+ resolutions, the video game rather bizarrely upscales from 720p, like the Xbox variation, as Digital Foundry recorded. That certainly represents the blurriness around the edges of faces. I thought it was just a film grain problem.

I have no means of understanding whether this is the case, but it smells like Microsoft or Treatment last-minute decided to bring Quantum Break to the PC. It definitely does not seem like a PC version was prepared from the start, no matter whether (as Sam Lake told MCV last month) Remedy was "pressing for" it. This sort of corner-cutting generally doesn't occur when you start advancement with the PC in mind.


Even worse still, Quantum Break is supposed to be a big DirectX 12 showcase for Microsoft. As was Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, another Microsoft-published video game, which was a dumpster fire when it introduced. Hell, I personally updated my desktop to Windows 10 for Quantum Break after nine months of putting it off.

With two semi-busted DX12 launches in the period of the last month, it's inevitable individuals begin casting sidelong looks in Microsoft's instructions. Exactly what the hell is happening with DX12? Are the problems on the designer side, as they get used to a new method of interfacing with the PC? Are they motorist problems? Engine-related?

Whatever the case, the point is that Quantum Break is a horrible ambassador for Microsoft's already-hated Windows Store walled garden and a dreadful example of DX12 in action. If your goal here is to simply go through Quantum Break without buying an Xbox One, you can most likely do that.

Just writing that sentence makes me laugh. A GTX 980 Ti should breeze through this video game like a cars and truck strapped to a jet engine. That I in some cases discovered dropped frames and stuttering? Unthinkable.


Solution's familiar with the issues, and Treatment is apparently dealing with them. The fact remains that while the game is playable, it's definitely not polished. When it concerns ports, that makes all the difference.

Okay, now that that's over.

What makes the entire circumstance more criminal is that Quantum Break is damn great, though probably not an instantaneous classic like Max Payne, or perhaps a cult-classic like Alan Wake. The universe/aesthetic here isn't really quite as remarkable as either of Treatment's previous video games.

It's undoubtedly Treatment, and undoubtedly weird. The game opens with you-- Jack Joyce, a.k.a. boring shooter guy-- being called to the regional university to meet with your old friend Paul Serene, who just so occurs to be a millionaire structure a time machine.

To absolutely no genre fiction fan's surprise, Paul's time machine basically explodes, opening a fissure in time and essentially kickstarting completion of the universe. Oh, and easily enhancing you with time-warping powers that enable you to freeze time, dash/teleport like a maniacal human pinball, and make time ... blow up? Something like that.


Actually all you need is the dash relocation. With it, Quantum Break plays practically like Max Payne. You face a room, evade around, decrease time, fracture off a lot of one-hit-kill headshots with the heavy handgun, and repeat. It in fact makes the video game laughably simple on the PC, and belies the reality this video game was clearly built and stabilized around a controller's imprecision. However so it goes.

There are five acts to Jack's story, focused around him and his quantum physicist brother William aiming to avoid the "End of Time," which-- corny name aside-- is a moment in the future where time will relatively unravel and freeze forever.

Unless you have the innovation to counteract it. Jack's main challenge is the shadowy Monarch Corporation, a company established seemingly in preparation for the End of Time. They've developed an Ark, a secret facility where they can keep time running and ideally "fix" completion of Time.


That's the primary quandary here, and it's considerably less black-and-white than your average video game. The interesting thing, and the reason Quantum Break is half-game/half-TV program, is that much of the story in fact takes location on the Queen side of the lines.

Stripped to their core these are essentially half-hour cinematics-- not something I expected to delight in, specifically because they have a certain SyFy channel quality about them at times. Take it sluggish though, play an act or two a night, and it winds up feeling a lot more cohesive than I anticipated.

And the benefit is a "Shadowy Corporation" that seems anything. By investing a lot time with Quantum Break's villains, it ultimately results in a game that feels more like Queen's story than Jack's.


Prior to each episode you'll likewise be confronted with a huge (meaning you'll know it when you see it) A-or-B moral choice that considerably alters Quantum Break's story. It's Telltale-esque, in that eventually the story's going to end up in the exact same location, but having actually replayed bits of the game I was really stunned how numerous of the part pieces altered.

It's a video game constructed to play two times. And ... well, if you do so, a minimum of it'll take half as much time on your 2nd go-round. The heretofore-unmentioned Achilles Heel of Quantum Break is what does it cost? damn time you'll spend locating antiques.

So. Lots of. Collectibles.

Listen: These are most likely some of the very best antiques I have actually seen in a video game, insofar as they're essential to comprehending the plot. You would have an entirely different understanding of the story if you skimmed or missed over one prolonged note in particular.


I turned around to see five pieces of paper sitting on a desk (see above), each representing a lengthy email chains or document to check out through. All informed it was most likely five minutes of standing still, checking out text.

If you were persistent in your first trek through the video game, however, you could breeze through all the voids and skip all the rubbish in a 2nd run. Whereas in Alan Wake it seemed like the pages you discovered fit the style (an author whose work is becoming a reality), here it feels like a crutch.

It's the weakest part of an otherwise-strong sci fi tale-- and a surprisingly wise one, too. There's nothing innovative about Quantum Break's time travel, however it's incredibly meaningful and isn't really afraid to toss around phrases like "Novikov's Self-Consistency Principle." It's a video game that a minimum of pays lip service to difficult sci fi, which isn't something we see often.

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