Xbox 360

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 9

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8


Crackdown is the game no one knew they wanted Grand Theft Auto to be. While it’s fun to wreak havoc as a mob member, it takes on an entirely new level when you’re in the shoes of a super human able to catapult over towering skyscrapers, launch oversized missiles with your bare hands, and fire seven rockets into a gang leader before they have a chance to hit the ground. That’s Crackdown at its best.

Conceived by Dave Jones (the same designer who masterminded Rockstar’s multi-million dollar Grand Theft Auto), he’s taken his original concept out of what can only be viewed as a mundane real world and plopped it into a comic book fantasy in this brilliantly crafted title. Nearly every aspect of Crackdown is addictive, well planned, and more importantly, fun. You don’t even need a gun to enjoy yourself in this futuristic cornucopia of buildings, bridges, and secret areas.

crackdown1360.jpg (127787 bytes)The game’s rather meager story is typical video game fodder. Good versus evil is as far as Crackdown goes as three stereotypical gangs have overrun the population and the police have turned to genetic engineering to create a high end law officer. Initially, the players chosen avatar is weak, only slightly a step above a normal human. As the game progresses and thugs are destroyed, your abilities increase.

Leveling up is easily the key reason to keep playing. As your agility increases and your leaping height triples, you’ll forget the game even has cars to drive. On the ground, you’re missing the majority of this vertically oriented third person actioner.

Plowing through the game in a matter of hours is possible. If you choose to take this route, you’ll never grasp the ingenious design of the city, and how every nook has been perfectly placed to keep you coming back once your powers increase. Collecting glowing objects known as agility orbs would be the scourge of gamers everywhere if this were a platformer. However, Jones has somehow made this once mundane collecting task a critical component by letting the player loose to do as they wish.

Charging through the city is astonishingly smooth. Crackdown loads once after the initial menu screen and when you’re into game play, the loading indicator screen is never seen again. You’re free to roam any portion of the city at your leisure as well. No aggravating invisible barriers prevent you from choosing how you progress. It’s open ended crafted in the truest sense of the term.

Targeting foes becomes the first noticeable problem in Crackdown. It’s brutally hard to manually aim, so using the left trigger to lock on is essential in you quest to free the city. Unfortunately, the cursor sticks to everything from cars, pedestrians, slain enemies, and even friendly officers. In a heated battle, this is simply inexcusable. When it works, it offers wonderful variety in your choice of attack, enabling the player to aim for specific body parts.

Sadly, with all of the explosive action, including a variety of grenades and working up to full on missiles, there’s no destruction to the environments. Fire a rocket launcher into a window if you want, but don’t even plan on shattered glass.

Granted, mayhem caused to a standard city street including flaming pedestrians, exploding cars, and that “accidental” kick to the cop who managed to shoot you in the back is plenty of carnage for any one player. Still, without being able to damage buildings, Crackdown loses the ability to truly immerse the player. The minute number of structures that allow players entry sadly fails to enhance this low feeling of “being there.”

The sharp, cel-shaded visual style remains constant throughout the multi-tired city, rarely looking repetitive. Character design is limited, and boss fights never offer up a new experience. As the story progresses, the number of guards required to squelch the plans of the leader simply increases. Actual one-on-one showdowns feel the same each time around.

Online two-player co-op is the only included multi-player mode. Playing from the host's game, this works best when starting from scratch. Otherwise you run into balancing problems of one player either being far too weak or the other able to crush every enemy they find. Disconnects are sadly frequent, and instead of letting players simply continue on in their own game, you’re sent all the way back to the main menu to reload your game at a checkpoint.

The majority of complaints in Crackdown come from how involving it is, not necessarily hatred for the game. Aside from the co-op issues, any problems are minor things you’ll notice as you trample your way through the game’s world. There is some amazing potential if this becomes a franchise.

If the short core game length is bothersome for you, take notice that there’s plenty of life to be had once the missions are completed. Crackdown has been developed in a way that the world becomes a mission in and of itself, filled with secrets and enormous possibilities for enjoyment if you have the ingenuity. The satisfaction potential is without question taken to a new level with Crackdown, easily putting the pressure on Rockstar to stun us come time for their next Grand Theft Auto installment. They’ll need all the help they can get.


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Last updated: Monday, April 16, 2007 09:55 PM