What the hell has happened with modern games?
Stepping away from my previous blog about Ubisoft not finishing games before they are released, so often, we find that the games aren't so much unfinished as...crap. Like crap in ways that it would be easy to not be crap in.
Take the hotly-tipped premium triple-A title from Remedy Entertainment, Quantum Break.
Now I must admit that I haven't played more than two hours of this game. I freely admit this, so take everything I say with a pinch of salt, but...wow. It is absolute trash.
The writing. Oh lord, the writing. The story is garbage. I've seen better attempts to touch on time travel and manipulation in the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror. I might forgive that if any of the lines explaining aforementioned time travel shennanigans sounded halfway convincing - which they don't. At the very beginning of the game, literally three minutes in, we are expected to believe that the main character's old college roomie has made a machine that traps a micro black hole and uses it to bend time? And creates a LITERAL Time Tunnel? Yes, like that old cartoon which shows in the background in Twelve Monkies? Like the old TV series? A Time Tunnel.
Only it wasn't meant to be the main character you play (Woodplank 1) who was meant to be helping here. It was meant to be main character's brother (Woodplank 2), who is lamentably depicted by Dominic Monaghan, an otherwise thoroughly competent actor. You know it's a bad idea but you have to go along with it, because the guy who wants to continue with his self-admitted highly illegal and utterly FUCKING BATSHIT science experiment (Woodplank 3) wants you to, and that's how you progress in the game.
You get your time-manipulation powers because the dingus that contains a micro black hole breaks and sprays time everywhere. You will get used to hearing the word time. It keeps getting thrown around in case you forget where the powers come from - though honestly they are so generic and forgettable that perhaps the word's repetition is actually necessary.
Okay so terrible story aside - let's focus on gameplay.
It's a third person shooting/action game with cover mechanics. Now, what happens with a game with cover mechanics? You find waist-high walls all over the place and take cover behind them. It's the done thing. Walk up to cover, hit the button, and -
Wait, there's no button? You just walk close enough and hope your character realises he has to duck. The character that went to college with a man that (while seemingly entirely lacking any personality) possesses the kind of genius that can build a miniature black hole in a college laboratory, sometimes fails to duck when being shot at.
What is cover? That is an interesting ask. Well, that wall over there is. These shelves, maybe. Dunno about that thing. You find out by walking up and hoping. If you're low on health, and it turns out that your chosen bit of scenery doesn't tick the mystical Cover box, then you're pretty much boned. Absolutely inexcusable.
The gunplay itself feels...sloppy. Hard to tell where you are shooting,
if you're scoring hits - aside from the instant slowmo you get when you
clear the last dude from a room. Yes, every time. Yes, it becomes
grating after the third time. No, you can't stop it.
This, by the way, is how you play the game. There's some puzzly parts, which involve the use of your time powers.
Ah yes. The time powers. Basically take the generic abilities of any third-person character and slap the word "time" in front, and there you have it - which is basically also how they came up with the plot. The amount of times in the first half hour that you are told that time is going to break, or time is breaking, or time is ending - the word literally starts to lose any sort of meaning. It becomes a drinking game. Every time you hear the word time - take a shot. You'll be fucked up before you even meet Woodplank 4.
All of this...I could perhaps bear. I could perhaps forgive, and play for longer, to see if the issues evened themselves out...
...if it weren't for the "episodes".
The game is arranged into different acts and parts, much like a Shakespeare play. In between each act, the player receives the dubious honour of deciding the main antagonist's course of action - an example being how the standard evil company (like a substandard version of Umbrella) should handle its most recent escapade in time travel related bollocks. Should it spin some kind of PR story to make Woodplank 1 out to be a criminal, and be nice to the students who witnessed their literal breaking of the law? Or should it murder them, and...something something hand wave?
You pick one...and then you get to sit through twenty minutes of the most tedious television you can imagine, detailing the consequences of your decision (vaguely) through the medium of half a dozen characters you simply don't care about. Several of those involved in this are accomplished and talented individuals - so one has to assume that the woodenness and staleness comes from the scriptwriting and direction.
So it's an early-2000 era PS2 game with shonky controls that forces you to watch a bad Netflix series in between each chunk, from the middle.
That's the excuse for a triple A game.
For the amount I paid for it, I bought Enter The Gungeon, Hyper Light Drifter and Factorio. Each of those has held my interest for significantly longer. Each of them is actually fun to play. Hyper Light Drifter has better characters, despite none of them being able to speak, and a better story, despite it all being conveyed to you through weird feverish visions. Enter The Gungeon is a top-down Isaac-style shooter that has better cover mechanics than Quantum Break. How does this happen?
Easy. Spend more on advertising than development.
Don't buy this game. It's rancid dog shit.