It's fair enough to be heavily influenced by popular games and genres - video games have been around so long now that a truly original idea is very rare indeed - and taking the best elements of different games often has stunning results - just look at Uncharted for proof. What isn't so clever is ripping off another game entirely. This is what Tecmo Koei has done with Quantum Theory, the most blatant Gears of War clone I've ever seen. To make matters worse, it has none of Epic's near-peerless grasp of the genre.
Gears of War might look like a fairly simple game to copy, but it didn't take long with Quantum Theory to realise the secret sauce is most definitely missing. To begin with, the main character Syd looks embarrassingly styled, as if created to try and appeal to every demographic. The end result is akin to a character from High School Musical who's been genetically spliced with Chris Redfield from Resi 5 and then sent to hard-man school with a tub of VO5 styling gum.
Syd is always shouting out terrible one-liners, clearly intended to be cool, but coming across the same way your 55-year-old dad might if suddenly cast as a 16-year-old in The Inbetweeners. Saying "Bye, bye" as an enemy explodes isn't cool or edgy, it's irritating. Japanese developers have made some of the most incredible action games of this generation, yet for whatever reason Tecmo Koei decided to badly mimic Western games instead, resulting in what feels like a 'My First Cover-based Shooter'.
A plot that centres on a shape shifting tower and giant worms sounds quite exciting, but the game consistently fails to do anything with it. The pace plods along so slowly that when an enemy actually runs at you it's a real shock. For the most part Syd leisurely wanders about, throws himself behind cover and then fires a host of generic weapons at a cast of enemies that look so out of place onlookers may well shout out "shopped!"
Gunplay is slow and laboured, the cover system lacks finesse and the level designs are so boxy you'd be forgiven for thinking you're actually in an ever repeating maze. There's absolutely nothing memorable about any of it. You get some on-rails shooting sections, but with absolutely no cover to be found, the sluggish aiming and sharpshooting enemies makes for an utterly frustrating experience. Giant bosses also make an appearance, and often annoy due to their willingness to attack while Syd is still on the floor recovering, meaning you've got next to no chance if you get caught in a death loop.
Even big set-piece moments fall completely flat thanks to the frankly terrible graphics that would have just about passed at the launch of the Xbox 360. Looking this shabby these days just isn't acceptable. The entire game is one blurry mess, and when something intended to be dramatic happens it often looks embarrassing. Collapsing buildings slowly fall to the ground, before coming to rest fully intact; enemies explode into nothing but a green mist and the frequently used "look at event" button more often than not results in a close up view of a wall.
Quantum Theory's one mild innovation in the genre is how you use a female AI partner, Filena. Bizarrely, Syd is able to throw Filena at enemies, either to slice them in half with her blade, or to temporarily stun them. It's an odd move in a game about big guns and ugly green monsters, but does at least mean there's something to talk about that isn't in Gears of War. On the same note, melee attacks can be combo'd if you time a second button press properly, resulting in Filena following up with a second strike.
I can see very little reason why you'd want to do this, but multiplayer is available for up to eight players. The lack of co-op play would usually be a big negative, considering it's more or less an essential part of the Gears experience, but the chances of being able to find anyone who'd want to play with you would have been slim anyway.
Quantum Theory could have been a game that showed what a well respected and established Japanese publisher could do with the now tried and tested third-person shooter formula, but it fails on every level. It looks and feels terribly dated, has next to no creative spark, completely lacks imagination and is certain to be forgotten very quickly.
VideoGamer.com Score4 Score out of 10
- Combo moves are something different
- Clunky controls
- Ugly visuals
- Feels sluggish