Crackdown Xbox 360 Review - 26/07/2007

Ever thought jumping could actually be exciting? We certainly didn’t, but that was until Real Time Worlds unleashed Crackdown into the hands of Xbox 360 gamers, and redefined what it meant to play by your own rules.

The beauty of Crackdown lies not within its artistic visuals or complex level design, but rather in its self confessed desire to be as overly indulgent as possible. Real Time Worlds have created a game where rampant destruction rewards the player with both skill enhancement and successfully completed objectives. It is this that helps distance the game from the likes of Saints Row and Grand Theft Auto, as unlike these titles, Crackdown never strives to offer a realistic gameplay experience. Although not strictly realistic games, THQ and Rockstar’s efforts are still bound by the constraints of accurate physics and real world themes.

Crackdown is like a [heavily armed] kid in a toy shop. It has enough energy and adrenaline to eat away countless hours of your life without ever being a chore. The games laid back attitude is represented best in the Co-Op mode, which provides drop in/drop out functionality that is seamless and works very well indeed. In terms of sheer accessibility, there really isn’t much else like it on the Xbox 360. And not because you can pick up lorries and hurl them into oncoming traffic. It’s unique in the sense that it’s gimmicky and it knows it. It may not be particularly innovative, but if nothing else, Crackdown is a game that, at its core, is brilliant fun to play. Did we mention that your character was super-human?

As an agent of justice, Real Time Worlds have given you plenty of ways in which to dispatch the criminal scum that have polluted Pacific City. Morphing vehicles, upgradeable weapons, and personal abilities are but three examples of what you’ll be using to suppress the Los Muertos, Volk and Shai-Gen organizations. More importantly, the world itself is a playground of interactivity, and you’ll find it easier (and much more enjoyable) to dispatch your foes using a variety of different objects. The exaggerated physics make hurling cars, skips and bus stops consistently entertaining. Whether you’re scouting out the most effective entrance to a gang leaders hideout or chasing a Co-Op partner across the rooftops of Hillside Housing, Crackdown is refreshing example of true open world gameplay.

Thankfully, the technical specs of the 360 have given Real Time Worlds extraordinary freedom to create a game where the limitations of previous hardware have been all but eliminated. The lack of texture pop up and a consistent frame rate are features that pale in comparison to the view of Pacific City when seen from the top of the Agency Tower. It is truly a memorable sight that silences any doubts over whether the partially cel shaded graphics could work in a game of this type. The way your character moves and interacts with the environment provides further evidence of Crackdown’s first rate production values. Crackdown is a stylish and well developed game that is easily one of the most visually unique third person shooters for the 360.

Nevertheless, it is unfortunately not without its flaws. For every moment of hilarious physics based brilliance you are reminded that the targeting mechanic can be troublesome at the best of times. This function, activated by a swift pull of the Left Trigger, pretends to know what you want to do but instead has a tendency to prioritize the wrong target. This can lead to many awkward and frustrating situations where the lock on system simply doesn’t select what you want to focus on. You have to wonder how such an easily solvable problem could have been missed during the course of Crackdown’s development and testing.

The A.I also comes off as being quite stupid at times, with many gang members offering little resistance despite the numbers being in their favour. In Crackdown’s defense, the difficulty level of the game can be adjusted, and the high setting does make for an increased challenge. The sheer number of NPC’s that populate Pacific City also makes their basic level of intelligence more forgivable.

But the thing is, it is almost impossible to not like Crackdown because there are so many things that it does so well. The leveling up system, hidden items and difficult achievements ensure that it will last for a good long while even after the Halo 3 Multiplayer Beta has come and gone. The intensity (and unrealistic nature) of combat translates well from the single player into the online arena. The Co-Op experience is likely to set the benchmark for how similar features should be done in future video games belonging to any genre. Crackdown, above everything else, gives you absolute freedom in a world where truly anything goes. Despite its casual approach to sandbox gameplay, the game is at all times immersing. You’ll feel as though it is genuinely your responsibility to unlock every aspect of this game, for fear of missing something extraordinary. A must own for Xbox 360 owners everywhere. Get to it Agent.

- Jon Titmuss



Realtime Worlds
Xbox 360