Microsoft has pulled out all of the stops for their latest blockbuster Xbox exclusive. Big name talent, action-packed gameplay, and sweeping cinematics are all mixed in with a healthy dose of a time-travelling mindfuck to give gamers Quantum Break, a huge dice-roll by team Xbox that offers big payoffs.
Originally announced way back in 2013, before the Xbox One had even hit the streets, Quantum Break is a mean streak of a choose-your-own-adventure. The third person shooter action game jumps around the perspectives of a few main characters like Jack Joyce played by X-Men’s Shawn Ashmore and Paul Serene, played by Game of Throne’s Little Finger, Aiden Gillen. These characters are front and center in the paradox-laden plot that pits earnest hope against certain doom.
One of the signature elements of Quantum Break is extra long cut scenes that flesh out a story dictated by the decisions you make in-game. You’ll be able to look forward to the consequences of your choices before you make them but the full gravity of those choices can’t be felt until you commit to a path...and watch 20 minutes of (highly enjoyable) cinematic story.
The character models during gameplay are all graphically impressive, especially since the actors who play them are easily recognized, but the cut-scenes had us floored by their depth and style. We knew going into our playthrough that the cinematics were filmed, not animated, but that didn’t stop us from scratching our heads at the style of them or how they somehow fluidly bend high-res video capture with CGI’d modeling.
The gameplay itself is a mix of Max Payne’s 'Bullet-Time' gunfighting and Gears of War’s cover shooting. Levels are large and packed with bad guys, all waiting to be frozen in time and picked off like clay pigeons. Your temporal powers—in addition to the heavy weapons you’re packing—stack the combat heavily in your favor but with loads of minions perpetually rushing toward you keep the action cracking and the difficulty high, especially as the cover you’re hiding behind diminishes under the heavy gunfire aimed at you.
There is a significant learning curve to feeling comfortable with the time powers you’re given, but it’s a pleasure to ease into mastering them. Combine the ramping up of your own powers with the movie qualities of the story and Quantum Break is easily one of the games that must be played this season. In fact, it should probably be played over and over again since the time splinters yield different outcomes that are all worth exploring. Which reminds us; it’s high time to get back to that second playthrough.