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.

“Captain America: Civil War” Batman V Superman 2: The Better Jokes Edition

All the same issues. Like with Batman and Superman, I had no emotional investment in Spidey and Black Panther, as they’re rushed, moving plot vehicles/blatant fan service. Hell, Spidey has LITERALLY no reason to be in the movie. It was obvious he’s here solely because the marketing deal with Sony fell through and Marvel wanted to flaunt it. Black Panther goes from “dad let me kiss your hand” to “I’m going to kill Bucky Barnes” within ten dialogue lines of finding out about the latter’s existence. Jesus.Captain-America-Civil-War-Key-Art.jpg

The drama is cringe-y as usual a la Age of Ultron; the only good, meaningful moment being the final ten minute fight between Cap and Iron Man. And even then, what WAS the shining ten minute moment of this otherwise trashy two and a half hour movie is sullied by *MASSSSSSSSSSIVE SPOILER* an instant reconciliation of ALL the movie’s potential lasting impacts on the MCU.

And to all the goofs claiming the villain “wins” in this one, no, he doesn’t. All the Avengers are basically friends again by the end, minus Tony Stark who will be re-accepted as a buddy by Infinity War Part 2. So again, NO consequences in a Marvel film.

Moving on, the new Spider-Man, beyond being RANDOMLY found by Tony Stark with absolutely no build-up, has a hot aunt and lives in a posh fucking apartment and has zero charm. He’s easily the worst of the three Spider-Men we’ve seen. For me, Garfield remains king by a small margin over Maguire, but both still stomp the shit out of Holland.

Lastly, the Russos direct their action sequences through fucking GIFs. It’s all just BAMBAMBAMBAM without a single cohesive motion in the frame. Scarlett Johansson’s stunt double’s scenes are so shaky-cam filled you can’t even see her. Between bad stunt double filming and cuts that last only a matter of milliseconds before the next disconnected shot is slammed into the forefront, virtually all the action in the movie is an utter mess. The only two exceptions are, once again, the climactic final fight and one sick Bucky+Cap team-up on a stairwell.

The Good:

-Emotional, well-motivated final fight between Cap and Iron Man
-Great Bucky+Cap apartment/stairwell team-up sequence

The Bad:

-Zero consequences
-No build-up to the bevy of unsupported random reveals (Black Panther and Spidey)
-Cheesy dialogue
-Mishmash of sequel setups
-Airport fight is terribly overhyped. It’s underwhelming and average at best
-The movie is only a hair better than its lackluster predecessor, Age of Ultron
The giant ocean prison just appears at a point

The Ugly:

-The continued downward spiral of storytelling in the MCU

Review of “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (SPOILER REVIEW)

At least I’m stoked for the Black Panther movie now.avengers_age_of_ultron_concept_art-wide6.jpg

Age of Ultron is a mediocre ad for future Marvel Cinematic Universe adventures. Black Panther nods? Check. Thor: Ragnarok teasing? Literally ten minutes’ worth. Infinity War hints? So many it’s not even enjoyable. And yet, ironically, the movie doesn’t end on a note that even slightly hints at Civil War, the immediate follow-up. Although the real crime in all of this is that I’m left wondering where the FUCK the AGE OF ULTRON WAS. If you want to talk about by the numbers, filler sequels that serve no purpose of their own beyond setting up future expansions, take off your Marvel fanboy cap, apologize to the Amazing Spider-Man 2 and put Age of Ultron in its place as the most contrived, plot thread dangling garbage expansion-bait movie of the decade.ultronavengers2trailer

It’s not even that Age of Ultron is BAD, per-say, it’s just so lacking and so decidedly average. Literally 5.5 out of 10 average, .5 better than downright neutral. The first thirty minutes are pretty solid, leading you to believe that Joss Whedon actually knew how to evolve the charm of the first Avengers. The Hydra battle in Sokovia is solid as shit, even if there are some stupid things like Hawkeye not dying from a DIRECT HIT to the chest by a goddamned tesseract laser. But I can let those slide, as Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and the crew throwing down is too much fun. The banter and witty dialogue is better than ever, probably the best out of any Marvel movie yet. Unfortunately, immediately following the celebration party after the big Hydra battle, things dissolve to utter shit. Ultron is rushed into full-on villain by this point, after a brief thirty second segment where he is born into the world. Within ten minutes of having entered the scene, Ultron’s character has evolved to the point where any other movie’s villain would be at after an hour and a half, and not in a good way. He’s already got his whole plan, his motives, his gang, etc. and all of this goes unexplained and unexplored. Same goes for Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver’s history. They get one monologue explaining their past and then BAM, they’re bad guys with Ultron now because of a downright stupid grudge. Joss mentioned in an interview how there was about an hour’s worth of film cut to get the movie from three and a half down to two and a half hours which involved cutting a lot of Ultron’s and the Twins’ story development, but having seen the final product, I wish Whedon had manned up and kept all of it in. Maybe then these new characters would feel fleshed out, rather than generic obstacles for the Avengers to overcome.

Now, even if a plot is rushed as hell there’s still a chance it can be enjoyable and make sense. Unfortunately, this is not one of those cases. Age of Ultron relies on deus ex machinas like Hugh Hefner relies on tits, and I’m not even exaggerating. For the past seven, eight or however many movies there’ve been in the MCU, adamantium has been unbreakable, right? So of course in this movie, the one time a villain gets his hands on it, Iron Man magically finds a way to break it using Vision’s mind gem and Thor’s electricity combo. So stupid. But while we’re making up excuses for plot convenience, how about we analyze the final battle in which EVERYONE repeatedly says “we’re not gonna make it. Either civilians die, or we die, or we all die, but one of those populations is getting the boot”. They say this LITERALLY right up to the final second when inexplicably Iron Man solves everything and stops Ultron’s master plan. They do not explain how an entire city coming down from orbit in the form of thousands of burning comets does no damage at all to the planet, nor do they explain how that was a safe move considering literally every character said that would damn the earth if they did it, hence why they didn’t just start with that. But of course, let’s all turn a blind eye to the blatant disregard for plot coherence. I’m not kidding when I say that Transformers: Age of Extinction had a better plot. We’ve hit rock bottom (or wait no we haven’t because somehow that magically doesn’t do any damage, sorry Ultron).Avengers-Age-of-Ultron-Trailer-1-Quicksilver-Saves-Captain-America-570x237

The kicker of that above paragraph is that at one point the battered, nearly destroyed Ultron openly references how bullshit this all is and how contrived and contradictory the writing is, when Hulk enters his getaway Quinjet and all you hear is James Spader yelling “For God’s sake!”. It’s my favorite quote of the whole movie, because that one line sums it all up. Even Ultron recognizes that there’s no way he shouldn’t have won in some fashion, but because of plotholes, conveniences and the necessity of the heroes needing to win, he had to lose it all.

And even plot elements that aren’t technically “flawed” are shit, like Black Widow’s past being explored. They try to make it super emotional and dark when we find out the KGB had her sterilized, but because of how cheesy her sad face is, how poorly done the flashback implementations were and how irrelevant it was to the bigger picture, while everyone else was busy crying I was  just sitting there non-plussed at the fact everyone else gives DC shit for this but in reality they do the dark stuff so much better. This one scene justifies why we need Marvel to stick to light-hearted stupid fun rather than DC’s more realistic take. Same goes for Quicksilver’s death. I mean, who cares? Joss kept teasing one teammate was going to die to fill the quota for “dramatic sacrifices”, and I called Quicksilver as being the sacrificial lamb a month ago in a post on this very blog. I predicted why he would die, how he would die, all of it. Yet given how obvious they made it, they still expected me to care, which was hard with all the moronic sheep sitting next to me blubbering like toddlers at the scene when Quicksilver was the only logical character that Marvel could afford to kill off. And the fact that I could call it so far in advance is a testament to how blase the writing of this movie was.

In terms of other flaws, Brian Tyler’s score is lackluster. He just reuses Alan Silvestri’s far superior Avengers theme a minimum of four times throughout the movie, and then calls it a day. Pathetic. And the special effects continue Iron Man 3‘s trend of deciding to use up the budget on unnecessary advertising rather than CGI work, meaning that it looks like a cartoon at times; another parallel to Transformers: Age of Extinction. Not good. One last thing as far as personal gripes go is that they decided to implement a trailer-effect on one of the in-movie shots, where things are moving at normal speed then turbo boost for a split second for no reason (not related to Quicksilver either). If you want to see what I mean, watch this video at the 1:52 mark to see the effect I’m talking about in action. Again, just a nitpick but it’s such an amateurish move in terms of editing. Ew.

The only three compliments I can really give this movie are for A.) Doing the Vision justice, B.) Giving Rhodey some much needed love and a cool Iron Man 2 throwback scene, and C.) Nailing the humor balance in the dialogue. But those are it. The only benefits this movie has going for it. Given how rushed everything is, the action doesn’t feel rewarding, but rather obligatory and soulless. In fact, those two words pretty much sum up what Age of Ultron was, obligatory and soulless. It is the foundation in a plot-point pyramid that will support and hopefully atone for its sins in Civil War, else this might prove to be the start of a downwards spiral for the MCU.