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Quantum Theory review: Derivative formula

Taylor Cocke

Occasionally, you see a remake that simply works better than the original. When Aretha Franklin belts out "Respect," it somehow has significantly more power than when Otis Redding first recorded it. And when the new series of Battlestar Galactica aired in 2003, it garnered critical acclaim, rather than relying on nostalgia and the cheese factor of the original show.

But most of the time, imitations can't come anywhere near the quality of that which they're attempting to capture the magic of. That's when you get The Monkees and the New Monkees trying to cash in on the success of The Beatles. Following in that grand tradition, Quantum Theory is the Airheads to Gears of War's Wayne's World. That is to say it's almost identical to Gears of War, except terrible.

Gallery: Quantum Theory | 73 Photos

Right from the get-go, I could tell that there was going to be no escaping the Gears comparisons. You play as Syd, a hulking super soldier who's a soul patch and a do-rag away from being sued by Marcus Fenix for identity theft. For some inexplicable reason, he's decided that he needs to destroy a giant evil tower. It's not very well explained ... or really explained at all. All you really need to know is that he wants to kill everything while taking cover behind thousands of chest-high walls.

Syd's so sluggish that I now believe the bones in his legs have been crushed by the absurd muscles that surround them.

To be fair, the chest-high walls are occasionally slightly different than Gears of War's. Due to the living nature of the tower -- did I mention that it's living? Because it totally is -- the cover sometimes moves around. This might be the only interesting diversion from the Gears of War formula, and if it popped up more often it might actually be an interesting gameplay feature rather than a rarely-used, "huh, that's kinda cool" moment.

There's a problem, though. Moving from cover to cover is really quite tough when Syd moves like a man three times his size minus all the muscle. He's so sluggish that I now believe the bones in his legs have been crushed by the absurd muscles that surround them. His aiming isn't much better, leading to all sorts of overcompensating unless you've switched it over to easy mode, where the auto-aiming makes blowing the heads off Nosferatu (the hive-mind inhabitants of the tower) so simple that you can really just roll through the game tapping the L-trigger before firing.

Even Syd's companions are useless. From the start I was teamed with two faceless and short-lived soldiers that I caught shooting at a nearby wall in the hopes that their bullets would somehow reach the enemy two buildings away. Later, Syd was joined by Filena, an agile sword-wielder. Syd can chuck her at enemies, football-style, and she'll slice them up for him. It would be pretty cool if the aiming wasn't so atrocious and you could actually hit what you were aiming at, rather than just having her bounce off whatever tiny wall she happened to run into first. Add in their pointless, repetitive and super-annoying battle chatter, and you've got a recipe for a single-player experience that is almost too difficult to stomach all the way through.

The multiplayer doesn't help much either. You've got your basic Deathmatch modes here, nothing too exciting. The maps are poorly designed and far too busy for any sort of real cover-based combat to be fun at all. What's worse is that there's no co-op play to be found. In a game with two very distinct characters fighting through the campaign, this is a huge missed opportunity for some variety in gameplay. Hell, I would have even settled for the option to play as Filena occasionally.

As it is, Quantum Theory will always be remembered (if it's remembered at all) as that game that tried desperately to be Gears of War and failed miserably.

This review is based on the 360 retail version of Quantum Theory provided by Tecmo Koei.

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