Crackdown was a fun little title developed by Realtime Worlds and one of the co-creators of GTA. It was a fun little romp which was released a billion years ago (2 years ago) and really didn’t leave a mark upon free-roaming games. It was a sort of fun little running around thingy coupled with awesome multiplayer and co-op. It was a nice little package and just to ruin it, they included the Halo 3 multiplayer beta. It was a weird thing, and many players didn’t feel that it was right to have to buy a full retail game to play the beta. I was getting Crackdown anyway so I didn’t care.
Crackdown tells the tale of a city in panic, with three rival gangs fighting for control of the various islands of Pacific City. When all police forces fail, a shadowy group called ‘the Agency’ launches in a special genetically modified soldier-cop to clean the streets. That’s the plot. There’s never any punchy narrative or any motive within Crackdown except shooting people in the face. When you take down any big high ranking crime lord, you’re told how evil they are through video briefings. These short interludes generally make you not care, and it can be difficult to actually figure out why you’re shooting someone in the face.
A further flaw of Crackdown is the fact that there generally isn’t as much punch as you’d expect. The weapons seem flimsy when compared to the melee, the vehicles handle like a cheetah who had a sip of alcohol and the whole story is as paper thin. It all boils down into presentation, never packing a punch with sounds or story, but you can still have a ton of fun with this thing. After about an hour or so into the game, you’ll find yourself simply enjoying Crackdown and messing around. Only occasionally will you glance around to advance into a mission.
Crackdown plays like this: you run around the city beating up the rival gangs. Each gang has a main leader and when they’re taking out, it’s generally game over for that gang faction. But it’s nearly impossible to kill these top leaders without loosening the criminal ties, and what you have to do is take out the lower guys. If I take out the guy who manages vehicles, they’ll be less cars patrolling the leader’s HQ, if I take out the weapons dude, all the guards will use less weapons.
There’s somewhat a deep sense of freedom within Crackdown, and nothing shows this sense than the leveling up. For the first hour of the game, you’re relatively powerless. You can’t jump more than ten feet, your aiming is terrible and you can’t drive things very fast. It leaves you with a sense of being weak, until you figure out that these abilities can be improved. The more dudes you kill, the better you’ll be able to shoot, the more stuff you blow up, the bigger your explosive radius and even driving into lamp posts has it’s rewards. Around three hours into the game, you’ll be genuinely enjoying just jumping around the place.
Trouble is with Crackdown, it is kinda easy. The story can be mainly done in 7 hours, depending on your skills, and after the ending, you can only jump around like a madman without a purpose. Most of the time throughout the story, you’ll be kicking people in the face, and they go down easy as hell. The only times you’ll really die is if you forget to bail out of your exploding car, or a random explosion. The bouncy little health regeneration sort of makes it a little annoying, but still doesn’t affect the easy difficulty.
Co-op in Crackdown sounds like a pretty good idea, just you and a friend jumping around blowing stuff up. But put in to practice, it can be a real mess. Right now, the servers are dead as dust and it’s quite hard to find someone to play. When you launch into a game, the original player is warped back to mission control and it can be real annoying when you’re a passenger in a car. You can’t shoot, you can’t whistle and all you can do is watch the guy just drive around. Team communication doesn’t exactly have to be vital, unless you’re joining forces to take down one of the story dudes.
Crackdown is fun. The pacing is excellently placed, the levelling up can be rewarding and more than often, you’ll find yourself just having fun. But it’s let down by a lot of factors – the plot isn’t what it could be, the first hour of the game is sluggish and slow, the co-op is just a mess and it’s hard to not feel a sense of invincibility. You shouldn’t consider buying Crackdown if you want a brilliant plot or brilliant multiplayer, you should just buy it if you want a fun little relaxing romp. Either that or you’re sick of not having cel-shaded GTA in your diet. Just be sure to chew before you swallow… put your cash down.