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Crackdown Member Review for the Xbox360

GENRE Action 
PUBLISHER Microsoft 
DEVELOPER Realtime Worlds 
M Contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language, Use of Drugs

What do these ratings mean?

At some point in everyone's life, you wish you had some kind of special powers. Some folks want to fly, some folks want to turn invisible, and others want to shoot fireballs out of their palms (hint: stay AWAY from those folks.)

In Crackdown, you get to do none of those things, but its still cool, because the game does a fantastic job of making you feel absolutely superhuman.

The game's premise is pretty basic: you work for the Agency, a high-tech police force dripping with Orwellian overtones, and it's your responsibility to singlehandedly take down three nasty gangs. The city the game takes place in is made up of three separate islands, all connected by bridges, and the entire city is open to you from the very beginning... well, maybe not the whole city. You see, Crackdown is an open world game with a touch of platform style action thrown in for good measure. There's more vertical exploration to be done in the game than there is by staying on the street level.

As you develop your skills in the game (Strength by beating the pulp out of gang members, driving by doing stunts and running over gang members, Firearms by shooting gang members, Explosives by blowing up gang members, and Agility by jumping on gang members... I mean by collecting "agility orbs") more ways of tackling your targets become available to you. Do you do a full frontal assault, guns blazing as you kick down the front door? Or do you set up a ramp truck on the side of the enemy stronghold, hop in an Agency vehicle and burn rubber into the base, James Bond style? Or do you collect all the Agility orbs you can and climb surrounding buildings, getting the drop on the bad guys from above (ironically enough, you can actually damage your enemies by jumping on their heads, a la Mario)?

You'll probably find one method of doing things, and use it for every encounter possible, but there are so many different ways you can play the game if you think outside the box. The bulk of the gameplay really comes out of simply messing around. Why not grab an explosive barrel, perch on the roof of a building and hurl it into the street below, watching the crowds scatter in fright as bodies fly gracefully through the air (in an excellent implementation of the Havok physics engine). Go bowling for gang members... by kicking a semi in their direction. Toss a ton of limpet mines (which you detonate by remote whenever you want) on a trashcan and fling it six blocks away before blowing it up (or just throw a mine at a gang member; it won't stick to him but it'll knock him out... THEN YOU BLOW IT UP!)

My personal favorite thing to do, simply for kicks, is to grab a regular rocket launcher and a homing rocket launcher as my two weapons, go to the highway that circles the three islands, hop on the roof of a passing pedestrian car, crouch down, and blast the mess out of all the gang vehicles on the road as the car does laps around the city.

Crackdown is a damn fine game, but there are a few snags that stop it short of being amazing. For starters, it's WAY too easy to improve your skills. You can easily max out everything but driving an agility by meandering around the same three city blocks killing respawning gang members by force, firearms, or fireworks for an hour or two. Additionally, the driving in the game is flat out terrible if you're not using one of the Agency vehicles or the vehicles that come in the downloadable content. Pedestrians can get their cars to do whatever they want, but they're sluggish and slow when you hop in their sedan. The weapon selection also leaves something to be desired; there's a fair number of weapons, but they all seem to do the same thing. Machine guns are the same, pistols are all equally useless, and you'll probably never use shotguns at all. The explosive weapons on the other hand, are pretty awesome, so don't be suprised if your arsenal consists of a grenade launcher, homing rockets, and cluster bombs (there's some downloadable weapons that add some more spice to the selection; harpoon launcher, a minigun that's significantly different than the other automatic weapons, and a dummy missile launcher that can cause some pretty hysterical enemy deaths.

These flaws don't cut the game down much (except the driving, MAN that pisses me off) but they're also not little things you're bound to overlook. All in all, there's no reason you shouldn't pick up Crackdown, especially because you can get it for cheap (29.99 or less last I saw it). It's a fantastic diversion and it'll eat away hours at a time. Go experiment!

More information about Crackdown
B+ Revolution report card
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