Crackdown Review (Xbox360)

A badass futuristic Pacific City, with a comic-like sheen to it, is infested with three big time gangs just waiting to be brought to justice by the Agencies new weapon – you!

Crackdown on the surface already looks a very appetising piece; it certainly has the looks with beautiful artwork, perfectly complimenting the action. Everything comes with that extra thick black border around it, while still no where near as obviously comic stricken like XIII. There’s no problem with this type of artwork, not when you’ll be blowing the junk out of things, tossing bad guys and various other implements across the city, and traversing the urban scene by lunging up and over buildings.

You call that excessive!? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
Genetically enhanced spring boots

No you’re not some superhero, but you’re a genetically enhanced operative that’s charged with bringing the rule of law to Pacific City by any means. Three districts make up the city, and each has a specific gang controlling it with various crime bosses supporting the organisations infrastructure. Meaning? Knock off the lower members of the unlawful food chain and you’ll be helping yourself along the way with bigger game. Each gang VIP brings a certain special something to the table like income, recruitment, training, weapons, vehicles etc. Taking them out will increase your chances of successfully removing the gangs’ kingpins.

Before you get knee-deep in street scum, you’ll probably be seduced by the shear silliness, but very cool feel of your abilities. There’s a minor RPG element thrown in, you have five core areas of your agent to improve and ensure they reach their peak. Agility controls how fast you run and how high you can jump, this is arguably one of the most critical skills. Not only for the strategic benefit but the freedom and darn right fun you get leaping about the place, you can outrun vehicles and jump to a nice 30ft when your top agility dog. The others are driving, explosives, strength and firearms.

Each core skill is upgraded by using an associated action, a bit like Oblivion in that regard, however some are a lot harder to increase. So if you want explosives that decimate anything within a 50ft radius then you’ll need to get lobbing those grenades or launching rockets, but you must kill criminal scum in order to be flooded with little orbs. These orbs fly out of fallen foes and into your Agent, slowly but surely improving a skill until you evolve another notch. Killing civilians or friendly peace keepers is very bad, and will give you no rewards but grief.

Strewn all over the city from the obvious to the most cruel of hiding places are agility and hidden orbs, the former improves your agility and encourages you to climb the highest of the high. The latter actually improves upon all of your skills a little so are worth the effort to find them, except they can be very well ‘hidden’. Races also play a part and offer a little diversion from day-to-day crime fighting; they too will improve your driving and agility skills.

Unique Stunts, Crackdown style
Certain actions improve core skills

“Skills for kills Agent, skills for kills.” You’ll love and hate the guy; it’s the crackdown ‘commentator’ who’ll be with you the rest of your Agency life. He’s instrumental in providing hints and is the one to deliver your briefings on key gang members to be removed. His comments range from the obvious to helpful hints, there was a period his existence began to tick me off but I grew past it and now look forward to his next smart-ass remark.

Health is managed by your amour shield suit thingy, while to the expectant crowd it would be called a shield it is in fact just armour. Whatever anyway takes too many bullets, punches to the groin or explosives to your Agents chest hairs and you’ll be feeling the pain. Luckily with being able to leap about you can usually find some cover quickly to recuperate. Once your armours (it’s a shield) depleted you’ll then be tangoing with death as your health plummets. What’s really cool is that as you improve you get extra stages of health, think of them as chances, having four little stages of health are near essential for some situations.

Weapons, oh glorious implements of justice, there’s a whole host of them just waiting for you to get your mitts on. What’s more is that they double up the purpose of Agency Supply Points that are dotted over the city, so not only do these help warp you about the whole city but they replenish and let you store ‘confiscated’ gang weapons.

There is only one piece of music in the whole of Crackdown worthy of note, and that’s only to be heard when quite high up and taking in the beauty of the city. The tracks that play when driving around are ‘okay’ but otherwise completely forgettable and ignored. Gunfire, explosions and taunts are where the funs at, hearing the sadistic laugh of gang members is sure enough to get your ‘Judge Dread’ side out and in full swing.

There are no missions. That’s right, you have no set structure in which to complete the game – instead you choose in what order to take out the gangs. In fact you don’t even need to take any out beyond the foot soldiers. In the beginning it’s entertaining enough just getting your skills up a few levels, plus with the enormous number of xbox360 achievements to unlock you could spend days just perfecting your vehicular-explosion-juggling technique!

There is, tragically, however a downside to all this urban sandbox crime fighting and that is once all the gangs are officially moped up …there’s little else to do. Sure there’s a ton of achievements to aim for and probably some skills to perfect some more but the games already ‘over’. Once the campaign is completed you can opt to turn on ambient crime which will fill Pacific City with gangs again, minus their bosses, so you don’t miss out on the carnage.

A savoir to Crackdown is its multiplayer component, you can team up with another Agent and go steam rolling through a campaign or just have fun doing crazy-ass things. When one quits the game ends and you’ll have to re-enter the game world, a little annoying especially if they become abruptly disconnected.

Cars are everywhere, but this is no GTA despite Real Time Worlds being operated by a founder of the infamous series. Vehicles are weak and no match for your own prowess, unless we’re talking Agency cars. Yes, a special super car, SUV and truck cab and all for the taking. Each has a special something and what’s more is when you have a high driving skill the cars ‘evolve’ into a better version. Cool, yes very cool.

Always have an escape plan Agent
Guns don’t kill, bullets do

Crackdown overall won’t be delivering a deep story, but it does deliver unbound and unique fun in this crazy futuristic Pacific City. Leaping about, blowing or tossing stuff down the street, up a building, threw bad guys …crime fighting has never been so much fun. Real Time Worlds has done a marvellous job with spreading justice, yes there are some problems and areas that could be better but this is one ride you won’t be soon forgetting. If genetically enhanced super Agents are your thing, or if you like to blow crap up in new exciting ways, then Crackdown better be on your list.

Top Game Moment:
After having beaten my way through a Volk infested tunnel, I happened to be beset by an army. I jumped, I launched, I mass-killed, I laughed …and yes I am aware I have issues to work through in therapy.

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