What does all of this have to do with CrimeCraft? Well, that's exactly what CrimeCraft is, minus Ms. Anderson but with a fairly competent online shooter stitched to its right hip. You create your edgy urban avatar - who has about three possible facial permutations, and an equally limited selection of hideous hairstyles (think Pete Wentz at 40, twice-divorced and addicted to crystal meth) - and then you're plonked into the supposedly dynamic, bustling epicentre of Sunrise City, where gangs rule, policemen are eight feet tall and do nothing but stretch occasionally, and everyone who isn't giving you a quest or selling you something has the exact same character model. And, initially, it all looks like a proper MMO. The first guy you see is one of those gigantism-afflicted policemen, and he has an exclamation mark over his head - signifying, as it does in WOW, that he has a quest to offer.
You're passed like swine flu between a small group of helper NPCs before finally getting a go at holding a gun and using it to shoot people until they are no longer alive. Obviously, I'm excited. CrimeCraft promises to combine "the best aspects of a shooter and a MMORPG", and I'm interested to see how that holds up, latency-wise. I look around. No Rogues. Oh, right - I have to enter an instance. Well, it's a newbie quest. Makes sense. Off I go, and I'm immediately astonished at how solid and reactive everything is. My previously slippery walking animations are suddenly weighty and purposeful. When I click, I shoot. After years of attack queues and die rolls, this is refreshing.
"This is refreshing," I comment to no-one in particular.
"I can't believe Marge Simpson is going to be in Playboy," I add.
I exit the instance, and start looking for other combat opportunities. Worryingly, all of them follow the same pattern as the first. I try out the PvE ones before moving onto PvP. CrimeCraft's PvP component is obviously the game's paramount attraction. It has four modes - Shootout (team deathmatch), Riot (vanilla deathmatch), Snatch 'n' Grab (capture the flag), and Turf War (capture control points). I have a go at each of them, but am far too terrible to get anything substantial out of the effort.
"Still," I think again, "this is refreshing."
"I wonder if she'll take it all off or just be in lingerie or something," I muse.
Truth be told, some of these are quite enjoyable. The team modes are exactly what you'd expect from an online shooter circa Quake III, and the action is surprisingly smooth and immediate, especially considering I'm half a world away from the vast majority of CrimeCraft's current players. [The game has had an official European launch since Alex wrote this - Ed.] It's also incredibly fast-paced, which can, at the best of times, distract you from the horribly drab scenarios you're pillaging. I find it unbelievable that it's almost 2010 - a decade after Old Man Murray - and we're still running through virtual warehouses, factories, and other assorted crate farms.