A Brit Late: Crackdown

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(This is a review based on the writer’s opinion. You don’t have to agree with it, but at least appreciate their view)

I’ve had quite a long ride with Crackdown. I picked up the game sometime last year, and I breezed through the Los Muertos missions. But as soon as I hit the Volk missions, I stopped playing.

Later on, I picked up the game again and made it all the way to the boss that uses mostly explosives which I couldn’t beat, so I quit again. Fast forward to this month and with Crackdown 2 finally being announced, I thought I’d pick up the game once more and try to complete it. That’s exactly what I did and now here’s my review on 2007’s Crackdown.

The main appeal of the game is that it’s a sandbox game. Usually when you think sandbox you think of a GTA clone…luckily that’s not the case here. If you didn’t know already, you control a nameless genetically-enhanced super agent whose job is to take on the 3 gangs of Pacific City and reclaim the streets from them.

That’s really all the story you’ll get apart from the dossiers on each gang and their members and the beginning/ending of the game…that’s right there are no cutscenes at all. Some might see this as a bad thing, but it means to me that you won’t get distracted. To be honest, the game doesn’t really a need a story when you’re too busy kicking ass.

The sandbox elements, more or less, live up to their name. Sure you can go and kill each gang member, but there are also various side missions such as driving and rooftop races. There are also two different types of orbs to collect, reminiscent of the hidden packages of the GTA series. However, these orbs actually benefit you, (ed note: And they’re fucking addictive to search for.) but we’ll talk about that in a moment.

The first type, the agility orbs, are common throughout the map as there are 500 of them around Pacific City. The hidden orbs however, are a lot harder to find and are usually located in high up or hard to reach to places. There are also only 300 of them in comparison to the 500 agility orbs. The agility orbs upgrade your agility, but that’s it. The hidden orbs upgrade all of your skills, hence why they are so rewarding to find.

Some of you might think that it’s a cheap way of extending the lifespan, but I actually found it fun and rewarding to find them. Finally, you can also play in your sandbox with a friend in co-op mode, which can be great fun but it also means you can be a bit of a dick as you can hit each other.

The orbs are just one way that you can upgrade your skills. Not too unlike an RPG, you can level up the agent’s 5 key abilities, which are: driving, agility, firearms, explosives, and strength. The other way you upgrade your abilities is by excelling in those ability areas, usually involving gang members. However, killing innocent civilians will lose some of your ability so you can’t be reckless in your war against crime.

The abilities are measured in stars, starting with 1 star and as you get more stars in these areas, the better you will be at them. It gives you an incentive to fight and once you start to get better, you can really begin to kick some ass and it’s so much fun. Like the higher in agility you are the further your character can bound in one jump, and the better your strength ability is, you can pick up heavier things and throw them further.

As for the rest of the gameplay, it’s your usual third person shooter minus the over the shoulder stuff. In fact, the third person is a lot more like the older GTAs. This comes as no surprise as the game was created by one of the creators of GTA. It all melds into a really fun package in which you will rarely get bored. It’s also one of those games where the hours seem to fly by.

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Don’t think this game is easy, as it’s certainly no walk in the park. I was playing on the easiest difficulty and I still struggled. This is mainly because of the fact that as you progress, the amount of gang members on screen gets ridiculous. It is further exacerbated by the fact that the enemies have better weapons, especially with the rocket launcher wielding Shai-Gen in the last part of the game (which can kill with one hit).

The difficulty doesn’t stop you from playing the game, but you really should expect a challenge after the first gang is defeated. This difficulty curve also causes the second problem I had, which is the game’s necessity to level grind. It’s noticiable when your rate of skill enhancement doesn’t keep up with the game’s increase in difficulty, so at some points you’re going to have to purposely upgrade a skill just so you can move along in the game.

It’s not a terrible problem as you can have some serious fun grinding in a game like this, but I would have prefered not being forced to do so.

In conclusion, these small problems don’t harm the game that much. I still found Crackdown to be a fun and fresh, if not a refined experience and I am eagerly anticipating the recently announced Crackdown 2.

Crackdown is also dirt cheap (I picked up my copy for just £8, $15 for you yanks) so if you really owe to it to yourself to pick the game up. Feedback is always welcome and I hope you pick up Crackdown sometime soon if you haven’t already.

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