Video Games

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.

Video Games

Top 5 Reasons The Division Will Suck

5.) It’s an Ubisoft game, meaning not the one they showed at E3.Tom_Clancy's_The_Division_Box.jpg

Remember when this game was first advertised at E3? The graphics were stunning, the atmosphere was great and the gameplay looked intense as hell. Fastforward to now and the graphics have seen a MAJOR downgrade (the Ubisoft guarantee, a la Watch_Dogs, R6: Siege, etc.), the atmosphere has been replaced by an uninspired “shoot shit and roam around a boring sandbox” vibe and the gameplay? Pfffffft. None of the windshield-shattering bullet impact from the E3 showings is present in the beta. None of the detailed granules of chip damage as terrain gets torn through. It’s just a shoddy hit box mess of a bland, under-detailed shooter.

To put this in perspective, the developers’ biggest selling pitch is that you can close random car doors. Closing fucking car doors, people. You can’t even re-open them. “NEXT GEN SHOOTER MECHANICS!!!!!1!!!! INNOVATION1!!!”

4.) A Season Pass.

So we meet again, cut and planned additional content before launch.

3.) It plays like the Star Trek movie tie-in video game. That’s a MASSIVE insult.

It’s painfully generic. We have an over-saturated shooter market as is, no need for shit like this filling it. This game plays like Defiance, for Christ’s sake. DEFIANCE. Minus the somewhat fun dune buggies. That leaves The Division with janky-as-fuck animations, weak shooting and a lackluster series of hallway-like street fire fights with minimal strategy required on its game play resume.

2.) The beta is exactly what you’ll be getting in the full release (which is to say, nothing good). 

“IT’S JUST A BETA LEAVE THE DIVISION ALONE OMFGKESDC” said every idiot Ubi-apologist ever. Listen up, clowns. We’re a little over three weeks from launch. If the game you’re playing in the beta looks like piss and plays like piss, odds are in THREE WEEKS it’s still going to be piss when you’re dumb enough to plop down $60 for it. Is it bland and uninspired? You bet. But that’s a core design flaw that would take YEARS to remedy. Not weeks.

1.) It’s more over-hyped shovelware.

You’re paying for a game that looks like what would happen if the Metro 2033 developers didn’t give a shit. You’re paying for a game where you run around poorly mapped streets of a virtual NY piling THOUSANDS of bullets into assholes only wearing hoodies who won’t die. You’re paying for a desolate, washed-out, E3 downgraded Ubisoft game with minimal heart put in and the appropriate amount of quality to match. It’s got shoddy as fuck voice acting, piss-poor story telling, a pathetically bland and empty open world and gameplay that we’ve seen in hundreds of generic third person shooters before. If you want to be known as the idiot who paid for a game sold on Ubi’s trademark lie-hype, be my guest. Pay for a game that’s selling you on the promise of being able to close car doors in “intense” firefights.

Those of us with brains will be laughing on the sidelines with our wallets still intact, but don’t mind us.

Video Games

Rainbow Six: Siege Impressions (PC)

It’s okay. R6S_Screenshot_2_196930

Here’s the deal: some of the elements are REALLY cool, like the window breaking, garage door breaching, and everything of that variety. But it’s the same animation set every time you do it, and when you’re doing it at least three times a match every match in a multiplayer only game, it gets old.

Rappelling up and down the sides of buildings is another awesome thing. So much better than Battlefield Hardline‘s piss-poor attempt at providing a good cops versus robbers vibe. This entire game essentially feels like what Hardline wanted to be, if it wasn’t stuck to the Battlefield name.

But here’s the sad truth of the matter: there’s just not enough present. Even for a beta, what I played offered so many different classes that I should’ve felt overwhelmed with variety, especially since they let us go through three different maps. If Ubisoft surprises us all and includes a gazillion different destructible maps and even more classes, maybe then it’d be worth $60. But as it stands? You do the exact same thing on all the maps, which is blow up the outside of the house, run in like an asshole and get shot, or do the reverse of that if you’re on the other side.

Also, speaking of the destruction, it’s nowhere near the scale shown in the E3 demos. In those videos we were seeing fucking granules of wood getting picked apart by bullet fire. Here, if you hit a wall, a large, predetermined chunk of it will just disappear. It’s far less intense and detail-fueled than the staged demos, which bums me out. Also, the graphics are nowhere near as good, but at this point that’s simply the Ubisoft guarantee.

In conclusion: it’s a good time if you want a bad-ass home invasion game, but I can’t imagine it ever being worth over $40. And, funnily enough, Amazon seems to agree as just recently it put a pre-order deal for the game at $36, months before release. So yeah, pinch your pennies on this one.

The Scrap Yard

Gaming Culture is Horrible (Street Fighter V Announcement Response)

So, Street Fighter V was announced yesterday. More importantly, it was announced as a PS4 and PC exclusive, which pretty much means only Xbox players are getting shafted here.

sf5.0.0
For full disclosure, I am not a major fan of Street Fighter (same thing with Tomb Raider when Microsoft pulled this earlier this year), and since I game primarily on PC I am in a perfect position to get this game myself when it comes out. So don’t think what’s coming next is rabid fanboy-ism.

Here’s the short version: the gaming community has grown so toxic and cancerous that I hope the industry crashes, an example of said toxicity being the responses over SFV’s exclusivity earlier today. We live in a world where if Microsoft spends a little money to keep Rise of the Tomb Raider exclusive (although they have NOT clarified on whether it’s permanent or timed-exclusive, so unless Phil Spencer lives in your house, anything you say is speculation) and both Crystal Dynamics and Microsoft themselves get shit upon from every God-damn angle possible, but when Sony does the EXACT same thing with Street Fighter V, everyone is clapping and cheering like it’s the second coming of Christ.

Now, here’s the thing, Nintendo has done this as well, with Bayonetta. HOWEVER, when they did it it was because they were funding the entire thing from start to finish. Capcom has yet to announce whether or not it’s exclusive because Sony paid the big bucks to produce it. This wouldn’t be too surprising considering Capcom is on death’s fiscal door right now, and if that is indeed the case then I say good job Sony just as I congratulated Nintendo for keeping Bayonetta alive.

But again, right now all we have to go on is that Sony paid off Capcom just as Microsoft paid off Square Enix, and that is why I cannot fathom the sheer hypocrisy of the Sony fanboy camp. Just a few months ago they were railing Microsoft for doing this, but now that their beloved Sony is doing this it’s an act of piety? Give me a fucking break.