The cover-based shooter genre exploded when Gears of War burst onto the scene in late 2006. Tecmo is the latest developer to jump into the fray, using Quantum Theory as its weapon of choice. This third-person shooter shares a lot in common with the progenitor of this genre, from the ominous environments to the weapon selection system, but a unique cooperative mechanic with your AI-controlled partner looks to separate this from the glut of similar games.
All societies eventually come to the realization that civilization must fall. It's the end of the world in Quantum Theory, and a living tower is at the center of the destruction. The majority of your quest takes place in and around this tower that is slowly morphing into a ruined cesspool by a fountain that taints everything it touches. You play as Syd, a hulking man with a sure shot and a thirst for fixing diseased towers, and you soon partner with a lithe young woman named Fillena. She is a reluctant ally, but your goals are the same: destroy the tower that is destroying your land.
The majority of the game plays out in typical third-person shooter fashion. You move from cover to cover, mowing down meanies with your mighty gun while slowly making your way up the tower. The relationship between Syd and Fillena is what distinguishes this game, though. You can pick Fillena up midbattle and throw her toward your enemies in a pinch. The two different throws either stun a small group or knock down one enemy with a direct attack, and these do change the feel of combat a bit. You can also initiate a melee attack, which can single out one foe or stun a circle of marauding beasts.
At the end of our demonstration, a giant boss stood in our path. This humongous troll-like creature sprayed bullets and swung his mighty sword with reckless abandon. You need to dodge his rushes and shoot him in the chest when he's stunned, and it's a healthy break from the standard action. There's no cooperative mode, but there is competitive play that includes deathmatch, team deathmatch, and a guardian mode, in which each team has one leader they must protect at all costs.
At this early stage, Quantum Theory doesn't have quite enough to differentiate it from other similar shooters. But the solid core mechanics and novel co-op play are a good start, so it remains to be seen how the final product will fare. Quantum Theory is due out this October for both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more updates on this game.