Review of Quantum Break (PC) — The Worst Port of All-Time?

Across years of PC gaming, I’ve stumbled upon a few bad ports, sure. Trash ports, even.

None of them hold a candle to this.keyart_quantum_break_microsoft

Quantum Break should be re-titled Hardware Break on PC, as it’s a mess. I know the developers issued a big update to remedy (unintentional developer pun) some of the original port problems, but the game must’ve been unable to load fucking menus at that point if this is how bad it is post-“fix.” Make no mistake, this is by far the worst port I’ve ever encountered.

The issues started early on, in an unprecedentedly severe fashion. Boatloads of stuttering and framerate drops began during the very first instance of interactive gameplay, an indicator that I was in for a bad time. So after a minute of the choppiest, most broken third-person action I’d ever experienced, I paused and began tinkering with settings. During this tech-support mission I discovered that the most random changes would boost my framerate for a few brief, blissful seconds. Turning textures from medium to ultra? Less stuttering. Turning off the framerate cap? A more steady framerate. These elements were helping, but nowhere near enough to make the gameplay, well, playable. As such, this experimentation went on for a good hour until I did the unthinkable: I lowered every setting to its lowest possible level, and only then did the game become (barely) playable (25-ish frames consistently). Problem number one averted.

Keep in mind my rig’s above the minimum specs; a GTX 960 shouldn’t be chugging because of this shit. Yet here I was, just thankful to be able to play the game in some fashion even though it looked like a first-wave Xbox 360 title. Then crisis number two struck.

Now, I’ve got 8GB of RAM, the acceptable bar for this title. So no funny business should be happening in that department, right? Wrong. After about thirty minutes of any given gameplay session, memory leaking would begin. Even at the lowest settings with a GTX960 and 8GB of RAM, I was suffering memory leaks and a framerate that could barely cling to a consistent bar of just below 30. It was bad. Against all odds, it somehow found a way to get even worse. Strap in, ladies and gents, it’s story time.

I’d made it to the final battle, the big ol’ boss fight at the bitter end. No amount of stutters, framerate drops or freezes could stop me. Or so I thought. See, the final boss uses screen-cluttering effects the size and scope of which the game hadn’t had to render in real-time prior, meaning my rig was unprepared for a fresh new wave of paralyzing code to strike. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The first time I lost the boss fight was because my character’s foot got caught in a web of suspended scaffolding, a simple obstacle hit-box error on the part of the designers who created the map. That was simply the game’s cluttered design at work, nothing technical… yet. Round two is where the tech errors really began cropping up. The second time I lost the fight was because I paused the game, alt-tabbed to see if anyone else had gotten texture-caught during the fight. Thanks to UWP (Universal Windows Platform), my game decided that alt-tabbing meant I was done playing and TURNED OFF THE PROGRAM MID-PAUSE. Very, very frustrating, after having waded through a murky six hours of the ugliest, most poorly optimized game I’d ever played, during round two of an unimpressive boss fight. But this was the final conflict. I was determined to see it through. So I booted up the game and delved into the abyss of Windows 10 gaming once more.

I blast through the intro cutscene, making quick work of the bad guys that stood between me and the arrival of the final boss. Cue cutscene number two. The big boss sends his goons but no amount of AI baddies in the world can stop me at this point. I’m determined, baby. I’m on fire. I blast the first teleporting enemy with a time bomb, freezing him in place as I dash my way over to bad guy number two, punching him straight to hell before warping backwards and slowing time to a crawl, firing off a series of shots at the frozen dude and a third scrub right next to him. No problem. After one more bad-ass time-dash into an enemy and one satisfying punch later, I was ready for the big boss’s screen-shattering attack. The room goes red and my framerate starts to tank, but I’m not worried. Relying on pure instinct, I press buttons that I know will guide me to the right side of the room and, lo and behold, after the stuttering is finished, I’ve successfully evaded his attack straight from muscle memory. Awesome. Now I’m onto wave two of bad guys. A heavy troop enters the room with a cohort of fellow rifle-wielders, unaware of what he and his friends have just walked into. I time freeze the big guy before bubbling myself, becoming immune to the grunts’ bullets while I pour into their leader. Within seconds he’s down and I’m dashing around the room like lighting, speed-punching troops left and right with reckless abandon. Before I know it, another ten guys are dead on the floor and it’s back to my one v one with the final boss himself. Alright, Paul Serene, you son of a bitch. Let’s finish this.

He lights up his big red glowing spirit bomb in a desperate last-ditch effort to stop my push, but he’s no match for me. I’ve not come this far to let a smarmy AI bend me over and fuck me sideways. I run as fast as my time-travelling legs will carry me, the room aglow with ghastly red hues as the blue triangles of my speed effect are consumed by the enemy’s color, a sign that he’s nearing max attack capacity—then the screen becomes awash with white, a sign of the most powerful attack in the game, a force stronger than anything I’d seen Serene throw at me up ’till this point—Quantum Break has crashed.

At that point I uninstalled the game and ten minutes later here I am writing my review.

Yes, that means I haven’t seen the game’s intended ending. But I DID get an ending. The end to my time buying Windows 10 Xbox One ports. The final boss is Phil Spencer, and I’ll be damned if I let him beat me again.

In conclusion:

Pros
-Fun time powers
-Solid cast of characters

Cons
-It’s seven hours long, and that’s including the hour and a half of integrated TV episodes
-Story is kooky and not in the quirky-girl-next-door kind of way
-Enemies are uninspired, constantly counteracting time powers and taking away the game’s only fun element
-Walking simulator
-Lapses in story logic are all over the place
-Live action TV episodes are amateur affairs by people obviously better suited producing and directing CG drama
-Map designs are uninspired, leading to hit or miss combat situations
-The final boss is broken in more ways than one
THE GAME IS UTTERLY BROKEN ON PC NO MATTER YOUR SYSTEM SPECS

If you’re reading this as a PC gamer (it’s in the title, dude), then that last bullet point should be the only one you need to determine if this game is right for you. Simply put: it’s not. Avoid at all costs on PC, unless you want to suffer through an ugly slog of a game (lowest settings) at 25-ish FPS that demands you forfeit any love you once held for Remedy Studios. Alan Wake, if your long overdue sequel is headed to Xbox One and Windows 10 any time soon… atone.

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