Crackdown Reader Review
Skills for kills agent, skills for kills.
What do you want to do when you are playing a game? How about anything you bloody well like, and not within reason either. Crackdown is a game built from the ground up by people who know what makes a game exciting. They give you a huge city, hand you some rudimentary tools then simply say 'Go Play'. If you've been struggling to have fun with games for a while, or have only been having fun in short bursts then Crackdown is the solution to your gaming apathy.
The best freak is a dead freak.
The city itself is divided neatly into three main areas. Within each area a Crime Lord rules supreme with not only his iron fist, but also a gaggle of nasty Generals who do his bidding and keep the civilians in line. Your job is to infiltrate each area and off the Crime Lord. You can go straight to him if you want but it's sweeter to take out his generals first, weakening the boss for that final assault. Each part of the city gets progressively harder and you can go straight for the final boss if you wish but you'll be mown down quicker than the 18th green at St. Andrews. As your agent has different skills he can upgrade it would seem a shame not to do just that, especially as this is one of the most fun parts of the game. As you start to upgrade your agility, your agent is able to scale huge buildings, then jump from roof to roof like some sort of human monkey. By the time this hits level 3 you'll be up so high you'll get vertigo. It's fantastic. Likewise your other skills can also be upgraded, just by doing whatever it is that is linked to it. Blow the enemy up to increase your grenade skill or run them down in a vehicle to up your driving skill, the game doesn't force you to use one set rule for upgrading. You can even throw cars at people to help max out your driving skill.
I'm like The Incredible Hulk, only prettier.
Upgrading your skills gives you real benefits. Explosives at level 3 and upwards gives you the ability to create utter mayhem, with explosions and pyrotechnics that need to be seen to be believed. Bodies flying through the air in flames never grows old. One of the things you will be doing the most early on is finding Agility Orbs to help you leap ever higher. There are 500 in all and some are in quite high, hard to reach places. You'll definitely want to get them as they are so valuable to your mission and the rewards structure for gaining them is perfect. Climbing the Agency Tower (level 3 agility or higher only folks) is a wonderful reward for the diligent. My heart was racing, my palms were sweating and I felt slightly nauseous as I reached the top. It's only a game, but to give you this sense of immersion shows what a fantastic job the developers have done.
Body juggling for beginners.
The city is your playground; you can do what you want exactly how you want to do it. Fancy shooting out the tyres of passing motorists on a nasty bend? Do it, and laugh at the hilarious results. Fancy piling cars high then attaching limpet mines only to blow them hundreds of feet into the air? You can do this. Lift a truck above your head then throw it into a bunch of rioters? Yup, you can do this too. The lock-on mechanic in Crackdown is another example of the forward thinking of the developers. Lock on with the left trigger then use right stick to cycle through various targets. If you want to go for a headshot with ease, you can. The achievements are also well worth a mention. How long can you juggle a body in the air with your rocket launcher? How high can you jump in your car? How much mayhem can you cause with explosions? It's sheer fun all the way. The game is just the right size, it took me between 15-20 hours to finish it. Despite taking out the last boss, I immediately kept playing for another hour and a half as I was simply having too much fun. I fully intend to keep playing too as there is so much I still want to try out.
Save water, bath with a friend.
Jump in jump out co-op play over Xbox Live is the icing on the already sugary sweet cake. Run around the city doing your own thing or join up to tackle the bosses. Once again how you play is entirely up to you. The gorgeous graphics help things along nicely with great draw distances and silky smooth frame rates (for the most part). The narrator will put a great big smile on your face with his great delivery of mission objectives and his pre-disposition for funny one liners.
I was blind but now I see.
For too long now the gamer has been hampered by the tools given to you by the developers. Real Time Worlds has fixed virtually everything that's wrong with this type of game. It could be argued that the bosses are too similar, that there are no GTA style missions but to be honest all of that plays second fiddle to the actual sandbox. The sandbox is where you'll have the most fun, not taking out the bosses nor doing rock hard missions that make you want to tear your hair out. Crackdown is a wonderful example of what can happen when folk who really know what they are doing are let loose to develop a game. The forward thinking here shows up some very big software houses and makes them look as if they are living in the past, or that they really aren't all that creative in the first place. Unfortunately this means minor updates or re-hashes of this type of game won't cut it anymore. Crackdown is the new standard against which all sandbox games will be judged from this point forwards. GTA had 10 times more longevity, but Crackdown managed to take that, rip all the fun bits out (and somehow multiply that by 10), and present it in one lovely, short package without any filler. You want fun? You've got it.
9 / 10