Crackdown Demo Impressions - 16/02/07

Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta invites not withstanding, Crackdown is a game we’ve had our eye on for the better part of a year now. Real Time Worlds have created an intriguing sandbox game with a unique art style, impressive technical features and a superb Co-Op mode to boot. And after playing the demo, we’re certainly still excited.

One of the first things that stuck us when we delved deeper into the single player demo was the sheer size of the game world, and the manner in which it’s presented. The graphics are an unusual mix of cel shading and realistic effects. For the most part, they work well. However, some of the buildings and smaller structures feature pale colours that look bland when compared to how vibrant the rest of the world appears to be. What also caught our eye was the draw distance and level of fogging. The former was superb and there was absolutely none of the latter, which is amazing when you consider the type of game Crackdown is and the sheer size of its playable area. When you take this and the graphics into account, it would be impossible not to acknowledge what a phenomenal achievement Crackdown is from a technical point of view. Real Time Worlds have done an amazing job crafting a world that is not only brimming with life, but one that is fully scalable and almost completely interactive.

There seems to be a greater emphasis placed on persistent character progression and skill upgrades that we previously thought. Every time a criminal or drug lord is eliminated, you gain experience which counts toward one of five separate attributes: strength, agility, driving, accuracy, and explosive ordinance. The demo featured an accelerated system which allowed us to sample the kinds of abilities that will be made available much further into the final game. When you reach the top end of these upgrades, Crackdown is a fast, frantic shooter that shouldn’t be so enjoyable, but just is. However, when you start out, your character feels far too limited, and making progress toward greater, more powerful abilities feels slow and tiresome. We’re hoping that in the final retail version, a more balanced system will be in place, to ensure that progress is gradual but ultimately still rewarding.

Crackdown is an energetic, vibrant shooter that has the potential, technically speaking, to be one of the most impressive free roaming, GTA style shooters ever made. The areas that you can explore are a testament to Real Time Worlds’ desire to create a game with as few limitations as possible. The upgrade system is a welcome addition, and it gives the game a much needed level of focus and structure. The online co-op modes are also immensely fun, and work in much the same way as Gears of War (drop in, drop out). Crackdown seemed worthy of a purchase even before the news of guaranteed entry into the Halo 3 multiplayer Beta was announced. This demo is a firm confirmation of that.

Crackdown is due for release in Europe on February 23rd 2007 exclusively for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console.



Real Time Worlds
Xbox 360