Eyes-on at E3 / Quantum

Wait! Don’t just skim over this article because you haven’t heard of Quantum or what you’ve heard has been very little. Tecmo may just have a very cool little game on their hands here that combines the shooting action of Gears with the co-op of Resident Evil 5 with some very interesting co-op melee action thrown in. All of this is added on top of some intriguing level design that is constantly moving and changing. Glad you read on now?

Quantum was demoed to me by Tasuo Egawa and Makoto Shibata, the game’s Producer and Director respectively, and they’re trying to do some interesting stuff with it despite the game’s not so original look. Taking place in a science-fiction/fantasy future where a large tower has grown out of the ground, Sid, the large hulking Gears like gentleman who is the game’s main character enters the building in order to figure out what is going on. Once in he meets a woman called Fellena and that’s where the co-op and action gameplay start to get really interesting.

As Egawa played through the game it was clear that Tecmo was going for more than just a Gears clone. The developers are trying to throw a bit more action into it and make the co-op more about teamwork than just shooting at the same person. This was abundantly clear when Shibata said that Resident Evil 5 was far more of an influence on the game than any other third-person shooter. How they accomplish this is what could make the game special.

Sid and Fellena can attack enemies in tandem through a variety of different moves. This means that shooting is just as important as melee and hand-to-hand attacks. For instance, while playing, Egawa used Sid to hurl Fellena into the air where she not only distracted the enemy, but also threw some explosives at him. This left the enemy open for Sid to run up and attack the guy at will, eventually ending him with a stiff gun butt to the face. It all played out really cinematically and would make for some freaking amazing co-op gameplay if it works out.

The game definitely leans towards a shooter, but they wanted to put a lot of emphasis on the action and platforming too. One of the unique features of the tower you find yourself in is that it is moving. You may step on a walkway and be taken somewhere else, or have to fight enemies while the floor moves around, making it a bit more challenging. During the trailer you got to see what looked like a boss battle that took place while a walkway moved along and a giant flying creature swooped around it. Not entirely original of course, but very good looking, as is much of the game. That includes some pretty interesting weapons that will change depending on what section of the game you’re in.

The big question is if the designers can combine action fighting and shooting gameplay together and make it work. Sadly, I didn’t get any hands on time with the game so I can’t tell you how well the two work together, but Shibata says they’ve designed it so the gameplay flows around the two. In the game, he says, they want to make it so that a combo melee attack is the opener for taking out an enemy, followed by shooting and then flowing into more melee. Pretty ambitious, but if it works well it could be an entirely new slant on third-person shooter gameplay.

PS3 owners have got awhile to wait since the game is in its early stages and won’t hit until 2010, but it should be something to watch, and its definitely good to see some Japanese developers dive into the shooter genre.