A unique, albeit brief take on the GTA formula
In the months upto release, Crackdown was touted as the successor to GTA's throne, a GTA killer if you will. Gloriously colourful and vibrant screenshots, action packed, fast paced video's. The leadup to this game was huge. And combined with the promise of a Halo3 beta entry, this game looked set to rock every action fans world.
And you know what....
Crackdown takes place on the fictional futuristic, inter-connected island metropolis of Pacific City, set far out to sea. The stage was set for a paradise for its citizens. However, this dream was all but ended with the growth of 3 powerful gangs; Los Muertos, the Volk, and the Shai Gen corporation. WIth the dream of peace in tatters for the citizens, the lone police force, dubbed the Agency, unleashed their secret weapon upon the unsuspecting gangs - You.
In Crackdown you play as a genetically enhanced, heavily modified, super cop. Armed with phenomenal strength, super hero agility, several bulletproof vehicles and an armoury that the SAS would be envious of, you are set loose on Pacific City with the goal of eliminating the leaders of the 3 gangs, thus bringing peace to the local populace.
The game incorporates RPG elements, utilising 5 skills; driving, agility, strength, shooting and explosives. At the beginning of the game, you are not much more powerful than your average human. But as your time with the game progresses, you will become unfathomably powerful. Whilst this element is limited, it does add a new dimension to how you want to take out the gang members. Do you concentrate of shooting, which leads to an increase in accuracy, or do you wish to concentrate on running ur enemies down throught the use of the numerous vehicles in the game?
Now, it must be said that words cannot begin to describe, the thrill of weilding the fully leveled up superpowers. Picking up a truck and hurtling it at your enemies is an experience not yet seen in gaming (and is obviously an effective way of killing gang members). However, these abilities arent just for show. Being able to jump 8 times the height of a normal human being, gives the sandbox genre a new dimension. No longer are you limited to the streets, when you have the ability to climb even the tallest skyscrapers. As I said, this opens up brand new tactical options for taking down gang leaders. A good example is the mission to take down the Los Muertos kingpin (the head honcho if you will), wholed up on a seemingly inpenetrable island fortress. But as daunting as this would be in say GTA, Crackdowns superhero abilities give you several ways to break in and kill the kingpin. You could for example drive a truck armed with mines straight through the front gate, blowing the guards apart. Or you could swim round the defences and stealthily climb the rocks to reach your foe. Or maybe sitting back and sniping everyone from afar is your style. Of course is there is simply the option to jump walk into the fortress, guns and rocket launchers blazing. But as is clear, there are many, many ways to accomplish your goals in Crackdown.
However, due to the number of ways of accomplishing objectives, this does make the game rather easy. This easiness is increased by the Regenerating Health System (as seen in every FPS under the sun). This also makes the game out to be quite short, with most competent agents being able to blow through all 21 gang generals and kingpins in under 8 hours. Although, the completionists among you will spend countless more hours with the game, hunting down the game's 500 agility orbs.
Also featured in the game are time trial modes, designed to test your agility, driving and killing capabilities. These also feature xbox live leaderboards, giving it some replay value after you are finished with the main story.
The game does support a very enjoyable co-op mode, via both system link and xbox live. This naturally increases the time you'll spend with the game, providing you have another rocket launcher trigger happy friend to play along with you. The game also supports downloadable content in the form of weapon packs. This may give you some more enjoyment with the game, depending on whether you are prepared to spend microsoft points on them.
All in all though, Crackdown's quirks and shortness are outweighed by the game's many innovations, and thus, this new take on the sandbox genre is a must play for any action or GTA fan.