XBox 360 Reviews
Xbox 360 Review: Crackdown
By Casey Lynch Feb 20, 2007, 9:16 GMT
More than just the game that comes with the Halo 3 beta? Find out here!
You have to hand it to Microsoft.
Packing an invite to the Halo 3 beta in the sand-box action game Crackdown is a stroke of genius.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Crackdown outsells Gears of War.
The sad thing – everyone will think it’s because of the Halo 3 beta invite, and miss the point that Crackdown is actually a really great game in its own right.
Developed by Realtime Worlds, Crackdown is an open-ended game that lacks a lot the structure of similar-styled games like GTA, which is good and bad.
You play a genetically enhanced agent that works for The Agency ridding the streets of Pacific City of three gangs, all with their own turf – Los Muertos, Volk and Shai-Gen. Your mission - go to said turf, womp on said gang members and find your way to make fisticuffy action with seven different gang leaders, making for a total of 21 boss fights.
Along the way, you’ll level up in 5 core skills strength, firearms, explosives, driving and agility – which is one of the highlights of the game.
On to what works...
Crackdown doesn’t put a lot of limits on you. The main part of the game is the campaign, but since there’s really no story, you can do pretty much whatever you like. Run around, beat up on baddies, scamper right into the hardest boss fights or level up your stats, which is pretty easy.
If you do an action related to your skills – fire a gun, kick a homie in the crotch, throw a grenade, play demolition derby, you level up your stats. The only deviation from the do-it-and-level-up system is when it comes to your agility stats, which you level up by doing a more specific task that’s not really related to other in game stuff – you climb up on rooftops to find agility orbs, which is actually really a blast.
Of particular note, the rooftop excursions are really cool – wide-open draw distances and an extreme sense of height really help create a sense of vertigo, especially when you’re climbing up to the top of the Agency Tower to jump off for an Achievement nab.
The controls work nicely – you can hold down the left trigger and auto-target future dead people or you can aim yourself at whatever you like. The auto-target comes in handy a lot of the time, although it can get hung up on someone who is already dead, which sucks when you’re taking lead from every direction.
The graphics feature an interesting textured play on what we’ve seen in GTA, but with a cell-shaded twist. There’s also a higher-fidelity look to a lot of the environments and vehicles, but the real graphical wow inducer is the explosions.
Like Lost Planet’s textured, particle-filled booms, the explosions in Crackdown are killer, especially when you string them together by blowing up a bunch of cars, or fire on cars you’ve thrown in the air (yes, you get to throw cars in the air.)
Crackdown is also set-up for online and system link co-op you can jump in and out of at any time via Xbox LIVE. So you can take on the mission, not that you really need any help, with a buddy, or go toe-to-toe with a friend and see who can jump the highest, throw a car the farthest, etc., etc.
What doesn’t work
Crackdown, with all of its openness, is pretty shallow. You have to kill these guys, and that’s pretty much it. Once you kill the 21 bosses, you’re pretty much done, and you can plow through that in about 8-10 hours. Even though there are still lots of buildings to hop around from and the city is very populated with people and cars to destroy, etc., the game is pretty much over.
As far as AI, the bosses are all basically the same, which means they’re pretty easy to take down, even on the harder ruthless or psychotic difficulty levels. This is especially so if you put some time into leveling up your skills.
Lastly, the driving works pretty well and has a better camera then Saint’s Row, but still feels stiff and arcadian. We recommend playing with a friend, letting them drive, and standing on top of the roof, blasting everything in sight as you make your way around the turnpike.
What it all means
Crackdown is ultimately a really fun game. It’s worth the purchase price to have fun playing through Pacific City, especially with a buddy over Xbox LIVE. Even though it’s relatively shallow, the openness and lack of having anything you have to do makes it really fun. Plus, jumping from the tops of buildings satisfies that ever-present superhero longing in all of us. Crackdown isn’t perfect, but it is fun, and that’s what counts. Oh, and there’s a Halo 3 beta invitation in specially marked games, so that can’t hurt either.
+ Cool cell-shaded look
+ Do pretty much whatever you want
+ Leveling up skills and jumping higher then a tall building
- No story
- Bad AI
- Driving is a bit of a hassle