You don’t even have to have played a single, solitary second of Epic Games’ seminal Gears Of War or its sequel to observe that Quantum Theory looks rather a lot like it. Quantum Theory’s hero, Syd, is a no-neck lummox who, despite the odd gothic flourish, heavily resembles Marcus Fenix. Both games are cover-based shooters, and both take place in a post apocalyptic environment. Both games feature big, booming, brassy musical scores, and both games repeatedly place you in the company of gruff, tough-nut militia squads.
And yet despite the fact that Quantum Theory really is quite extremely derivative, in the end it doesn’t really matter. In terms of quality, it may not be in the same league as Gears Of War – it doesn’t have the gigantic budget, for one thing – but it’s actually a reasonably solid endeavour that does just about enough to warrant a recommendation for hardened shooter fans. It’ll tide Gears fans over pretty ably until next April when Gears Of War 3 finally launches, and Playstation 3 owners who’ve never had a taste should be made aware that Quantum Theory does boast a little bit of that same indelible flavour.
The combat is also actually rather refreshing in its outright lack of chivalry. For all of their lunk-headed brilliance, both Gears Of War titles were predominantly linear experiences, and even on the harder difficulty tiers they never really used their environments to broaden the level of challenge. Before the first chapter of Quantum Theory is even halfway through, you’ll find yourself getting flanked from every single side, and being quick to vault around every available piece of cover is almost as important as the gunplay itself. Shortly afterwards, the cover develops a mind of its own; an inventive, story-based gameplay dynamic that forces you to keep moving at all costs.
Quantum Theory isn’t as relentlessly juvenile as Gears either, and the initially amusing but eventually exhausting cartoon bloodletting of Gears is notable by its absence here. Slow motion headshots have been introduced though, and they’re as downright satisfying to pull off as they were in Dead To Rights: Retribution and Wanted: Weapons Of Fate. Syd is also given intermittent access to a partner called Filena, whom he can use as a long-range weapon during specific action sequences. The boss battles are mildly refreshing to boot; completely discarding cover, they hinge entirely on your ability to dodge attacks rather than being able to just repeatedly hide from them.
The plot is basically nonsense (albeit amiable nonsense) but it moves like the clappers and never impedes on the action. The charm of the localization job isn’t to be sniffed at either. Many Japanese games (the Final Fantasy series, most notably) earn copious brownie points with fans for their skewed turns of phrase and bizarre lines of dialogue, and Quantum Theory has more than its fair share. During one gunfight, in which a substantial number of our companions were gunned down by a couple of relentless gun turrets, one colleague turned to us and bellowed, “Someone take out those cannons. They’re annoying as hell!”
There’s a reasonably entertaining multiplayer component included (which, as expected, cribs all of its ideas from you-know-what) but again, it’s perfectly serviceable fodder for impatient Gears fans, or Playstation 3 owners who’ve never been given an opportunity to try it before. Quantum Theory absolutely isn’t perfect, and you’ve seen its wares before, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a well-made and surprisingly distinctive (in its own very, very weird way anyway) piece of work, that fans of the genre might want to consider investigating.
Watch the Quantum Theory trailer here: