previews\ Feb 5, 2004 at 7:00 pm

Breakdown - XB - Preview

A clinic room. A voice that states you are the last hope. A woman that appears and disappears, seemingly bending time. A name that rings a distant memory. And then there are the soldiers who burst into the room while you are immobilized by drugged food with the intent of killing you.


These may seem like scenes from a bad dream, but for Derrick Cole it is a dream that he is wandering through, and there seems to be a lot of people intent on seeing that he is put to sleep – permanently.


Breakdown, a pending Xbox release from Namco, is a first-person shooter that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world … or does it. Derrick, it seems, has been blessed with some unique abilities, but you will have to discover them as you traverse the medical clinic, dodge bullets, and solve minor puzzles in order to advance through the levels. And while Derrick will pick up weapons along the way, he is a weapon himself. From martial arts moves to other talents, Derrick will have be forced to figure out why he is considered the last hope.


And if you thought that the military, with all its firepower, was tough, you haven’t seen anything yet.


Breakdown is a science-fiction title that features plot twists and turns, excellent graphical elements and solid animation. The player interface, as it stands in this beta, is easy to work through and though the game does have a bit of a tutorial, it is integrated into the action quite well. When Derrick initially wakes up, he is given some tests – which in turn constitute the tutorial. And once the action starts, you will be peeking around corners, timing runs through heavy weapons fire and working through a multi-story clinic that has been hit by an earthquake, making some of the passages unreachable.


The environments are somewhat interactive and you will be forced to use natural cover in order to succeed. And timing is vital in working through some of the hazard areas.


This is a game that is immersive and can be tense. While, at this stage, the course through the clinic labyrinth seems somewhat linear, the game still manages to provide a lot of challenges, and contains several difficulty levels.


In addition to the hand-to-hand and weapons combat, the game also features great environments that actually feel like a huge office complex, with twisting corridors, a host of rooms to explore and perhaps pick up key items, and an enemy who seems to be tracking your location.


The sound of Breakdown is solid. The graphics are all from the first-person perspective, and the developers have done a very good job of bringing the game into your face, as it were.


Ok, there is a lot about this game that should be mentioned, but is currently embargoed. Such are the joys of playing a preview build.


That said, what can be mentioned is that Breakdown can really draw the player in. It teases and tantalizes with tidbits of information and then turns the player away from further exploration in that area by throwing a whole lot of action in their face. Players are driven along the game course with these little teasers and the tension of a lot of soldiers and other things coming to get you. The game also has a nice sense of urgency to it. Standing still for any length of time seems like a sure way to get killed.


Breakdown is slated for release in March, and from this look, this could certainly be a title that fans of the genre will want to pick up. Those who have yet to venture into the genre will likely find this a great introduction, and a lot of fun to play.


This game will be rated M for mature, and will not have multiplayer capabilities.

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