‘Death is never the end’. Yes, I like it; I like it a lot. Knowing that the character I choose to play in this game is almost invincible brings a somewhat giddy feeling to my stomach. Crackdown is one of the most highly anticipated titles this quarter and we just couldn’t wait to get our handcuffed mitts on the booty.
We know what you’re thinking. Handcuffs, right? Yes, we should probably explain that one but we might save that for another time (the creative peeps over at Microsoft may have had something to do with it). Suffice it to say that cranking up the Xbox 360 for a game like Crackdown can only be described as a very good feeling. But games that have so much hype surrounding them don’t always end up as good as they’re expected to be. What we discovered was a game that is extremely intense and altogether… insane!
Fans of Grand Theft Auto will be more than familiar with the way the game looks and feels. Everything from the environments to the actual game play itself has a very distinct ‘GTA’ feel to it. The creator of GTA, Dave Jones, has certainly left his trademark on this game and it’s all the better for it. And the gritty, cel-shaded, graphic novel style of animation used in the game just impresses on so many levels.
At the beginning of the game you get to choose which character (called an Agent) you want to play. They all look very funky and a couple of them even have some menacing-looking tattoos. In the end, we settled on the pale-looking, bald headed guy with the dark, sunken eyes – he looked mean enough to take on anything! Next step is choosing your vehicle. We settled on the SUV because it just looked like it could kick a whole lot of criminal butt!
The game play in Crackdown has to be some of the best we have experienced since Gears of War and we have no qualms in saying that. With the easy ingame navigation and movement, you can do just about anything you need to do without too much effort; including jumping from building to building when you feel the need (we’ll explain this a little later – is this bit needed, since ‘a little later’ turns out to be the next paragraph?).
Even a newbie gamer could play this game and find it hard not to have fun. The right thumb stick controls the view and camera angles, and the left thumb stick controls basic movement like running. And since you’re a genetically enhanced human being, there will be loads of movement in this game - everything from throwing and lifting objects up to 3, 4 and even 5 times your body weight, to jumping impossible heights and scaling buildings like Spiderman! We said this game was insane, and we meant every word.
The story behind Crackdown is straightforward. Your character is a genetically enhanced crime-fighter who basically gets to kick butt in large doses. Your primary goal is to take out three gangs in Pacific City and roll over anyone or anything that gets in the way of your objective. Fun, huh? To accomplish this seemingly impossible task, you get to play with an arsenal of state-of-the-art weaponry, explosives, gadgets and vehicles. And if that isn’t enough to pique your interest, if or when your character seems to be beaten by the odds (or just shot up all to hell), you’re simply reinserted back into the fray. Fighting crime in the future is so much less complicated!
The whole genetically enhanced feature of this game is what makes Crackdown so interesting and takes the basic ‘shoot ‘em up’ genre of game play from mediocre to engaging. And in case you haven’t yet figured it out, your character just happens to be one of thousands of clones waiting to be reinserted into the streets to clean up the mess - wherever or whenever it’s required. It’s rampant, bloody and violent mayhem but that’s always the best kind!
The structure of the game requires your character to locate targets on the map (via the HUD and the help of a narrator who helps you through the game) and then proceed to take them out, one by one. There will be all sorts of obstacles in the way that you need to traverse or just kill and destroy. You accumulate points for obtaining various skills in the game such as driving a vehicle, using your firearms or even using your genetically enhanced physical abilities. Throughout the game you can also collect ‘Orbs’ that boost your abilities and make your character that much more kick ass! Seriously, who could resist such a thing? Not I and not anyone I know, judging by my friends list on Xbox Live.
A game like Crackdown proves that you don’t have to have an intricate, engaging storyline to keep you interested and having fun. What this game lacks in the way of a storyline it makes up for in action-packed combat and incredible game physics. Knowing that your agent can mow his way through opponents by hitting them with the butt of his gun, his car or kicking them with lightning fast roundhouse kicks is all that’s required.
As you progress through each target you eventually fight the big crime boss of each gang in Pacific City. Each gang is somewhat tougher than the last which is why your skills in combat, agility and explosives are so important. The more you practice using your skills the better you’ll become at taking targets out and completing the objectives.
There really isn’t a lot to this game, which is refreshing and much appreciated. Sometimes, all you really need to have fun is simple, entertaining gameplay and that is exactly what Crackdown is. If you’re into shooters and you don’t like to muck around with frilly game options or complicated plots then Crackdown is the game for you – minus the handcuffs, of course