30 Reviews in 30 Days, Day 19 – Crackdown
You almost have to feel sorry for Realtime Worlds. The studio created what it thought was a great game when it made Crackdown. On top of that, it had to think getting the Halo 3 beta as part of it meant there was going to be a huge group of gamers out there who would play it. The problem is many gamers played the beta and then sold the game, never even looking twice at the main content of the disk.
Maybe we are looking at this all wrong, however. Maybe the ones we need to feel sorry for are the gamers who never even gave this game a try. After all, anyone who actually played Crackdown can tell you it is still one of the more enjoyable games to come out for the 360.
Hero of Pacific City
Crackdown takes place in Pacific City, a city overrun by three gangs: the Central American Los Muertos, the Eastern European Volk and the Asian Shai-Gen Corporation, which masquerades as a legitimate company. The people of Pacific City have turned to the Peacekeepers, their version of the local police, for help, but this group is seriously outmatched. A new weapon is needed in this war against crime: you.
Your character is a genetically altered Agent, working for a mysterious organization known as The Agency. Your job: clean up the streets of Pacific City while doing your best to keep civilian casualties down to a minimum. To aid you in this quest, you will be equipped with the best weapons and vehicles The Agency can provide.
Once you power up your Agent, the real fun begins.
You also have the ability to power up your Agent, making him a super soldier in the war against crime. You do this many different ways. You can find orbs scattered throughout the city, some that will increase all your capabilities and some that will only increase your agility. You can try to complete the challenges scattered throughout the city, each designed to help build different abilities. Or you can just kill the gang members. What makes this a little more interesting, however, is how you choose to kill them determines how you level up. If you attack them with hand-to-hand combat, your strength improves. If you shoot them, your weapons accuracy improves. Run them over and your driving improves. Basically, however you choose to take someone down has a direct effect on how your character’s abilities increase.
Super powered Agents
Part of what makes improving your Agent’s abilities fun in Crackdown is your character can become, for lack of a better way to put it, a super hero. When you start the game, you are strong enough that you can beat someone to death. After you level you strength up, you can grab objects, including light poles, and use them to hit people. Get a little stronger, and you can start kicking cars back on the gang members, which is truly a blast. Get leveled up all the way, and you can start picking up the cars and throwing them.
Needless to say, this game really gets to be fun when you get leveled up. I have already talked about what you can do when you have your strength maxed, but it is just as much fun watching how high you can jump when your agility is fully powered or the size of the explosions you can created when your demolition skill is at its peak. Like I said, you basically become a super hero.
And in this game, you are going to need it. The third-person, sandbox gameplay can start to truly get challenging as you get closer to the end, especially when you face the Shai-Gen. Heck, just trying to make your way to the top of their high rise to battle the last boss for the Shai-Gen is tricky.
Play Your Way
One of the the truly impressive things about Crackdown is it truly lets you play the way you want to play. Want to snipe enemies from a distance and take them on in smaller groups, you can. Want to charge in headlong and run them over with the nearest vehicle? Feel free. Want to go after the leader of a gang before you have taken out all of the other generals? Feel free, though you may find it much more difficult than you would if you take them out first.
If you missed it the first time, do yourself a favor and play Crackdown.
There are a lot of sanbox style games out there, but few give you the freedom Crackdown does to just do whatever you really want to do. This feeling was expanded upon even more when Realtime Worlds gave players the “Key to the City.” This download allowed players to add or remove the gangs, set up the world around them, and pretty much do what they pleased. Add to that the co-op gameplay available both in the campaign and in this new mode, and you can really do just about anything you can think of.
Don’t believe me? Go on Youtube and look up videos on Crackdown.
And now the bad news…what there is
As good as Crackdown is, it is not all fun. Many people had real issues with the orb collecting in the game, more specifically the agility orbs. These are scattered throughout the city, and they can be a little hard to find among the various buildings. Many felt they could not level up their Agent’s agility because they could not find enough of these orbs. I did it by shooting enemies from great heights, so this did not really bother me.
One thing about the game did bother me, however: the driving. I never got the hang of it, even when driving the Agency vehicle that powered up as my driving improved. The controls just always felt imprecise, as if they were an afterthought in what was overall a well designed game.
Worth a look if you passed it up
Gamers can be a cynical bunch. Though we often have high hopes for games, we tend to be suspicious when things look like they could be a bit shady. I think that is part of why people weren’t really ready to give Crackdown a chance. People thought it was just some filler, throw away game that was really just there to distribute the beta for the 360’s killer app.
Nothing could have been further from the truth. Crackdown flew under the radar for many gamers, but those of us who decided to give it a try found a game that was so much more than anyone expected. Crackdown gets a 5 out of 5.