previews\ Jan 7, 2007 at 7:00 pm

Crackdown - 360 - Preview

Exclusively for the Xbox 360, Crackdown is Microsoft’s first-party entry to the open-ended, GTA-style genre. Conceived by David Jones, one of the creators of the Grand Theft Auto series, Crackdown is an open-ended adventure in a futuristic world where you play as an elite agent in a crime-ridden city. The game basically has you entering the city and fighting crime and all variety of villainy. While the missions are all well and good, the open-ended side of things plays out especially well considering that your character can leap from rooftop to rooftop and throw cars once they beef up their attributes. As with Grand Theft Auto, it’s usually more fun to run off and goof around without playing the main quest, taking advantage of what your character can do within the game’s universe and physics engine. Crackdown is shaping up to be a fun action title with some great RPG elements added to the mix.

In Crackdown, you play as a special agent from an organization known as The Agency, which seems to breed super-cops with powerful abilities to be used for stopping crime on a large scale. This means blowing up environmental objects on all sides and taking down hordes of foes at once.

The game’s RPG elements are quite deep, allowing you to gain added abilities in five different areas: strength, driving, agility, shooting and explosives. Each one will add new gameplay mechanics to the formula, as strength will allow you to hoist cars above your head and chuck them at foes and agility will let you jump 50 feet into the air and not take damage when falling to the ground from a high point. On the same token, your cars will also gain levels with you, so you’ll get vehicles that handle better and have higher degrees of defense as you level up. 

The physics are pretty fun in Crackdown. Driving feels pretty arcadey, but never feels like a chore, and blowing up enemies and cars sends debris and foes flying through the air and is a lot of fun. Something that was pretty impressive that you don’t really see in a lot of open-ended games is the vertical scope. When you scale a building, you really feel like you are dozens of stories above the ground and can really get a sense of the size of the city below.

The on-foot controls were a little rough in the preview build of the game. While your character handles pretty well most of the time, navigating through ledges and aiming at enemies feels pretty janky. Hopefully this will get cleaned up for the game’s release.

Graphically, Crackdown looks pretty good, and has a definitive comic book feel to it. The character models and vehicles seem a little stylized, and this adds to the game’s overall atmosphere. As I said earlier, the scope of the game is very impressive especially from nosebleed heights. The lighting effects are also pretty good, as to be expected from a next-gen game.

Crackdown is shaping up to be another impressive entry to the open-ended action genre, and will give gamers plenty to do and a big world to explore. Look for it this February.

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