Quantum Theory is the video game equivalent of a cringe-worthy Hindi rip-off of a Hollywood film. Apparently, this is what Japanese developers think Western gamers want from a third-person shooter, and they couldn’t be more wrong. May be this is what we wanted four years ago, but since then, we’ve played games like Gears of War, which seems like the obvious inspiration for this game because the only parts of the game that actually work are those that are lifted straight from Epic’s genre-defining series.

So this is a cover-based third-person shooter, which are a dime a dozen these days, but when it was announced, the developers promised a refreshing take on it by way of dynamic cover. This meant that objects that you would take cover behind are constantly changing by morphing into the environment and moving around, requiring you to stay on your feet. In reality though, this feature only shows itself in the end stages of the game, so most of the game is just the standard ‘take cover and shoot the bad guys’ gameplay, except that barring the cover mechanics, everything else in the game is disastrously poor in its implementation.

You play as man-tank Syd, an almost robotic block of big armor, obscenely large biceps, and a disproportionately small head with no neck. His one-liners are laughable (but not funny) and delivered with the passion of a professional grave digger. For parts of the game, he is joined by a female companion, whose name I can’t be bothered to remember or Google. What she did bring to the table was a certain amount of variety to the combat. During battle, you can literally throw her across a room at enemies, either stunning them temporarily or killing them. You can also use her to distract enemies manning turrets, divide the enemy’s attention, or in brutal melee combos. It adds a little freshness to the game, but again, she isn’t alongside you throughout.

You won’t really care about Syd’s motivations, so for whatever reason, the object of this game is to destroy a massive tower within which most of the game plays out. You’re constantly moving up through the tower level after level (with weird anatomical names like “Abdomen” and “Thorax”), and here is how almost every level in the game plays out – climb up stairs, enter room with conveniently placed waist-high obstacles, kill brain-dead AI, climb up stairs to next room. That, in a gist, is Quantum Theory. There is sporadic variation from this formula, like an instance where you fly through the tower on a giant slug and kill more brain-dead AI, but these bits aren’t well done either, so they’re little relief from the other levels. There’s some platforming too, which is bizarre considering Syd’s less-than-acrobatic disposition. Instances where you’re required to jump across gaps are where you’ll find yourself dying the most, more because of the poor controls than the difficulty of the platforming itself. There’s four-on-four online multi-player too, but as expected, it’s tacked on and it’s near impossible to find a fully lobby to play with.

Quantum Theory is quite possibly the ugliest game to have come out in years, and that extends from the characters models, color palette, and texture quality, right down to the art style, which, like the rest of the game, doesn’t possess a shred of originality. There isn’t a single instance, barring the CG cutscenes, where the hideous graphics won’t make you want to gouge your eyes out. Calling the production values budget-level would actually be a disservice to budget titles, because this is just so much worse. The game doesn’t fare much better in the audio department. Voice work is abysmal, and while the musical score does stand out, it doesn’t always do so in a positive way.

At a time when single-player campaigns are getting shorter and shorter, we would have been thankful if Quantum Theory gave us a four-hour campaign to spare us the pain. But it was not to be. If you do buy this game and have the will power to see it through, be prepared to suffer for a good 7-8 hours. And there’s really no reason why you should. There’s almost no originality here to speak of, and while the gameplay isn’t entirely broken, it’s shrouded in hideous graphics, an uninteresting plot, and copy-paste level design.

Price: Rs 2,499

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