Crackdown Xbox 360
Published by Microsoft Game Studios
Developed by Real Time Worlds
Release Date: Out Now
With the world on the verge of anarchy and law enforcement recruitment severely declining, there was a need for drastic action and that action was to lead to the creation of the Agency. Utilizing the intellect of disgraced scientist Doctor Baltazar Czernenko, superior agents of justice were created. Czernenko used his underground eugenics program to create superior humans that each one alone could replace an entire police force. You'll play as one of these super human police officers, known as 'agents' and the idea is to restore order to Pacific City. Pacific City is controlled by three rival gangs and the only way to eliminate a gang is by removing its kingpin. Before you can get to the kingpin however, you must remove the generals in the gang and each gang has six generals that you must dispose of.
Crackdown allows you to play through the campaign either in solo or co-op mode that's played either over system link or Xbox Live. Before beginning the campaign you'll get to choose from one of eight agent skins, which is nice although you can't create your own custom agent, at least in terms of appearance. Your agent's skills improve as you use them. For instance your weapons skill will improve the more you use weapons and you'll find it easier to hit enemies with pinpoint accuracy. Likewise your driving skills will increase by driving around more and your reaction times will improve as a result. Your agent's agility skill is the odd skill out as it's improved by finding agility orbs and improving the agility skill will allow you to do outrageously high jumps and scale tall buildings with ease.
Crackdown has a kind of Grand Theft Auto feel to it in that you get to wander around the city and complete your objectives as you see fit. As well as taking out the generals and kingpins you'll also have to deal with many other villains who are intent on putting that many holes in you that you could be used as a colander. You'll be able to drive vehicles provided by The Agency and you can jump into any vehicles you come across. Whilst the vehicles are useful I found myself preferring to remain on-foot most of the time but then again, that's how I prefer to play the Grand Theft Auto games. The game offers a variety of weapons and explosives to use and it's even possible to use enemy weapons and resupply them with ammo once you've taken them back to an Agency Supply Point.
The gangs you'll have to crush in Pacific City are Los Muertos, The Volk and The Shai-Gen Corporation. Los Muertos are drug dealers and control a district known as La Mugre. They are known for being vehicle specialists and fearsome fighters. The Volk are experts when it comes to firearms and explosives. They use skilled illegal immigrants to replenish their forces. The Shai-Gen Corporation conducts intensive scientific research and was created by a previous government. Rumours have it that Czernenko is a Shai-Gen Corporation general. It's not just a game where you have to take out the ringleaders. You'll also have to capture Agency Supply Points, which allow you to replenish ammo supplies and health. They also act as spawn points should you be killed in action. It's also possible to instantly travel from one Agency Supply point to another so the more you have, the easier it is to move around the city.
On the whole Crackdown is an enjoyable experience but there ways in which it could be better. The game is a little on the short side and you'll do well to get a dozen hours out of it. Aside from some checkpoint races there's not a great deal to do outside of the main objectives, which seems a little strange given the supposed open-ended nature of the game. The online co-op mode isn't as good as it could have been. Having the game end if your companion decides to quit seems like an odd choice. It's also not possible for someone to join you mid-game. You'll have to have an HDD if you're going to play a co-op game. You might also wish that the developers had bothered to give the game a more satisfying storyline to add a little more depth to the experience.
From simply taking a cursory glance at the screenshots it's easy to make the mistake in thinking that Crackdown is another game to use cel-shaded graphics. Taking a closer look reveals this isn't quite the case as everything is nicely textured and not just as expanse of bland colour as is the case in cel-shaded games. The character models aren't anything special but the vehicles certainly look good. The animations are OK with the Havok physics engine being used to good effect. The frame rate can drop quite significantly at times, particularly when there are explosions and a lot of action on screen, but thankfully it's never problematic. It's worth pointing out that the game only supports 60Hz mode in case your TV doesn't support it.
Crackdown does offer subtitles so deaf gamers will be able to enjoy the game. The subtitles are displayed in blue dialogue boxes for clarity and are easy on the eyes. The cutscenes are subtitled in the same way. Some peripheral speech isn't subtitled but none of this is important. Occasionally you'll receive reports on your targets and these are subtitled. Tutorial messages are shown in text so you'll have no problem in learning the controls. The tutorial messages do reappear far too often however, which is rather odd. The HUD is rather useful and allows you to see the progress of your agent's skills development and the status of their health and armour at a glance. The game makes good use of visual markers to indicate the positions of agility orbs, Agency Supply Points and races etc. Your tracker (mini-map) shows you the direction you need to be heading in order to complete your objectives, which is very useful. All things considered, deaf gamers should be fine with Crackdown.
Those who have enjoyed past GTA games should find Crackdown to be an enjoyable experience. The game does have its problems, as we've mentioned above, and it's fair to say it could have been better. As you probably already know it also provides a way of obtaining access to the Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta (whenever that will be) and this is a bonus that's sure to appeal to many fans of the Halo series. The brevity of the game is unfortunate and it's also a shame that there's not a great deal to do when you've finished the game. Still it's fun while it lasts and it's deaf gamer friendly.
Crackdown is an enjoyable GTA style experience that most will enjoy. It's a little on the short side though and could have done with a little more depth. Still most will be happy with what it offers.