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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (42945)
Written on  :  Sep 13, 2022
Platform  :  Windows 3.x
Rating  :  3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars

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Summary

Quantum Gate: No One Explores Here

The Good

In the year 2057, an advanced environmental simulation program called Earth-5 has predicted that industrialization, pollution, and the overuse and destruction of natural resources decades earlier were key factors of Earth’s imminent decline five years later, and the only hope of saving the blue planet is the Eden Initiative, a project aimed at extracting a rare material called iridium oxide only found on AJ3905 and returning it to Earth. Due to the hazardous nature of the planet – which promises a gruesome death for anyone foolish enough to set foot on it – it can only be accessed through an interplanetary device called the Quantum Gate. Private Drew Griffin, an army medical student, along with his fellow army recruits, is called upon to protect the mining crew during the extraction.

Much of the game is spent exploring your surroundings and talking to people, before being called upon to perform necessary tasks that include attending briefings, having breakfast, performing KP duty, and going to bed. When interacting with characters, small videos will pop up somewhere on the screen, and occasionally you have some dialogue choices while getting an insight on Griffin’s thoughts. There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to the choices you make, and you are encouraged to play the game more than once, making different choices, to see all the videos Quantum Gate has to offer and to fully grasp what’s really going on. The videos are encoded in both Apple QuickTime for Windows and Microsoft Video for Windows, and you are asked to install these. This is all thanks to VirtualCinema, a technique pioneered by HyberBole Studios which uses your computer’s multimedia capabilities to its full advantage so that it provides a platform for storytelling. According to MobyGames, only three games used VirtualCinema: Quantum Gate and its sequel, and The X-Files Game. Games have three layers; in order they are physical environment, videos, and character’s thoughts.

Navigating around the complex is done by moving the mouse off screen to the direction where you want Griffin to go, and clicking the mouse button. If you hover over something you can look at, a look icon will appear. The only thing worth looking at is Griffin’s journal which gets updated each day and provides an interesting insight of his disturbing past. If you hover your mouse at the top of the screen, you can click the circle icon to be taken back to the main menu. Those are all the icons you’ll see in the game. “MiniTerms” scattered throughout the three-level complex allow you to check your e-mails, access important information, and look at maps, among other things.

My favorite part of Quantum Gate is accessing the VR simulation, which your fellow army recruit, Private Michaels, warns you about. The object is to go around wiping out “bugs”, while protecting your colleagues, which are represented as blue chess pieces. The simulation warns you if you are firing upon someone, when a bug is right behind you, or if you are out of bounds. I enjoyed seeing all my colleagues getting wiped out in one session, then having the remaining bugs gang up on me. The arrow keys are used for movement, while the left mouse button is used to fire a laser. The simulation terminates when you run out of health.

Although you cannot save the game, there is an option in the main menu labeled "Go to Movie" containing four or five checkpoints over three days. Not only does this save you from completing the entire game in one go, it lets you replay a specific movie, allowing you to select a different response if there is any.

The hallways are well designed and have a futuristic feel to them. When you move in a certain direction, you see Griffin walk there instead of just teleporting himself, and the sound of his footsteps as he is doing so provides some realism. There are other nice touches. One of them is the introduction, where Griffin screams as he is traveling through the Gate, even though he said “I hope this doesn’t hurt.” The other thing is the amusing ending. I love the song that plays over the end credits.

The manual is well detailed and worth a read before launching the game. It starts by giving a brief explanation on VirtualCinema. After that, it goes into detail on how to use the interface. Interestingly, it explains hovering around the video clips will trigger the Memory icon. Click the left mouse button while this icon is present to hear what Griffin is thinking. Although the feature didn’t make the final cut, this would have been made redundant anyway since we automatically hear his thoughts. Scattered throughout the manual are the three maps of the complex and a definition of the terms used throughout the game.

The Bad

Contrary to the manual, there is hardly time for any exploration; you only have about five minutes before being summoned, and some of the areas are inaccessible. While areas such as the mess hall and lounge are always open to you, others will trigger an "Access Denied" message (even if you have already visited the area before).

Each person featured in the game has their own backdrop when their video clips get displayed on screen. This is strange because those backdrops don’t match what is seen when there are no videos playing. There are even times when more than one video featuring the same person start to clutter up the screen. The worst of these are the ones featuring Michaels; five video clips are displayed one by one as he is trying to finish the one sentence.

The Adjust Sound option in the main menu does not work, and there are references to “SpectraScope” in both the game and manual that you don’t even get to make use of.

The Bottom Line

Quantum Gate is an okay game, but not one of the best full-motion video games I have played. The object is to explore a station, get called upon to perform certain duties, and watch video clips, some involving you selecting from a list of choices that will trigger an alternate version of the clip. You also get to participate in a VR simulation that sports an excellent interface, and that’s the only really good thing I can say about this game. The manual is also worth a read.

Exploration is almost non-existent, and there are certain missing features as well. HyberBole Studios wanted Quantum Gate to be one big game, but MVT insisted that the game be shipped in two separate instalments, meaning the sequel picks up where this game left off. To fully know what the game is about, eight replays are required, but I doubt many people would do so.

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