Robocop's got nothing on you!
I'm sure I speak for everyone reading this when I say that there's a time for playing a complicated game, focusing on telling a great damn storyline over making the game fun to play, and there's a time to play a game where the storyline takes a backseat for balls-to-the-wall gunplay and action sequences so adrenaline-pounding they'd have Rambo blushing.Crackdown
not only fits into the later category, but rules it with an iron fist. Holding a rocket launcher.
The (minimal) story for the game is that you're a super-cop genetically enhanced in order to combat the gang problem in Pacific City. Each gang has taken a large section of the city for themselves, leaving only the Agency building, which serves as your home base. Essentially, you're an extreme solution to an extreme problem.
But, you're not expected to solve this problem with gentle words and an arrest or two. No, you're expected to solve it with plentiful helpings of lead, explosives and hit-and-runs. Needless to say, when you first see a gang member, that storyline goes out the window faster than those Ramen noodles your flatmate burnt.
In terms of gameplay, Crackdown
can be best compared with that part in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
, where CJ returns to Los Santos to find it overrun by the other two gangs. Only now it's the entire state. And you've got the Super Jump code in. And you can only carry two weapons and one type of grenades. And you can gain the ability to throw cars. In other words, the crazy-go-nuts version of San Andreas
The city is seperated into 4 sections: the Agency building, the industrial sector controlled by the Volks, the commercial sector overrun with the Shai-gen, and the rest of the map controlled by Los Muertos. You have to go from the Agency into each other sector, take out the head honchos of each gang, then mop up the remaining gang members. After that, you control the sector, and are free to move onto the next.
This doesn't exactly add up to a lot of play time, before you ask, particularly if you're like me and try to do it all really fast like. If you take your time with each of the gang's higher-ups, and scour the map for all the gatherable orbs, then yes you get quite a bit of time there, but as for main action time, it's not exactly an epic.
In terms of action though, it's plenty epic. As you're a genetically engineered super-cop, you can do a lot of things that your average cop can't. For example, you can jump a good 10 feet into the air, pick up large objects and throw them, can get re-cloned after death and you can wear nifty-looking battle armour instead of a Kevlar vest.
These abilities can be powered up by putting them to good use. You have 5 skills: Agility, Driving, Firearms, Explosives and Strength. All of these skills can be upgraded in at least 2 ways: by finding Hidden Orbs or by using them to make a kill. Agility can also be improved by finding special Agility Orbs and by winning Rooftop Races (checkpoint races going across rooftops), and Driving by winning Road Races (same thing, minus the rooftops).
Most of the time, it'll be for a kill though.
These skills do actually matter, though. Upgrade your Strength, and you'll get more health, be able to lift heavier objects (I got to the stage where I could lift entire cars
and throw them into people), and kick harder. Driving improves vehicle handling across the board, and the 3 Agency vehicles get better statistics. Upgrading your Agility lets you jump crazy-high and run crazy-fast. Upgrading your Explosives skill means all your explosives make a bigger boom and bigger dent, while your Firearms skill means you target people faster.
The targeting system in this game is definately unique, in that it is both cool and broken all at the same time. It's cool, in that you can target specific body parts with just a tap or two of the right analogue stick, and what part you target will affect them in different ways (drop their gun, fall over or headshot), but broken in that even if you were aiming for the head, you're likely locked onto a dead guy whilst the very-still-much-alive gang member next to the body is shooting you senseless.
The art direction for the game really helps get you into the mood. The engine produces visuals akin to that of a comic book, which does nothing but reinforce the 'ass-kicker-of-justice' theme behind the game. After all, countless comics have starred vigilantes of justice that take it upon themselves to be judge, jury and executioner to every law-breaking scumbag they come across, then skipping out on the courtroom proceedings altogether.
Then, after you've laid the smackdown on the last gang member in the city, you get... it. The final cutscene. I dare not spoil anything about it, but I won't be surprised if the sequel is very story-driven...
However, not everything in this game is unaproachable. For one, you may note that I didn't mention the co-op mode. Well, when you don't have the option for Live or System Link play, Crackdown
co-op's in the can, leaving split-screen players (like myself, I got a second controller a couple of weeks ago) in the dust. For another, you only get one slot for saves per profile, meaning that if you want to start again, you'll lose any progress you may have had.
Still, for the romp around the world of Pacific City blowing the crap out of people, it's well worth a game or two. Though, for this length, maybe not at full retail price.