Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Crackdown

Before I get too much into talking about Crackdown, I want to talk about something that Bones told me about today, namely that Marvel comics is planning on killing of Captain America in an upcoming issue. Now, maybe this isn't true or maybe Cap won't really die similar to when he "died" back during WWII, but my gut feels me that it is true. If so, this is very, very disappointing. Cap has always been an amazing character and given the United State's position in the world today, I find it very hard to believe that there isn't someone out there that can't write a decent story for the spirit of America made flesh. If a character becomes irrelevant, it's usually the fault of the writers, not the fault of the character. It would seem to me that the solution to this would be to get better writers, not blow Cap's fucking head off. Whatever. DC's last big crossover was Infinity Crisis, which followed on the heels of Identity Crisis, two amazing pieces of work that examined what it meant to be a superhero in modern times. Marvel's was Civil War which had Spider-Man unmasking himself for no good goddamn reason and other pointless "wow" moments. Cap's death will just be one more example of them trying to gain readers by having "big" moments that do nothing but damage their properties. On the plus side, this seals the deal on my next tattoo. I had been toying with the idea of getting Cap's shield on my left forearm, to compliment Spidey on my right. If Marvel isn't going to care about Cap, I will.

So, Crackdown. I've been playing it for a couple of weeks now, and I've been having an absolute blast. This game kind of snuck up on me. I had read about it before, and seen screen shots but didn't get interested until watching a gameplay video. When I played the demo, I was completely sold though. This is a game that really has to be played to be fully appreciated. Screen shots of the game are kind of "eh". The videos give you a better idea of what the explosions and game mechanics are like, but until you take your agent running from rooftop to rooftop, targeting a gang member in midair and cutting him down with a rain of bullets, you really won't "get it". And by "it" I mean a near obsessive desire, nay need, to pick up a dumpster and throw it a hooligan.

In the past few days I have done the following in game:
  1. Jumped from a rooftop and taken out 6 gang members with a rocket launcher, while in midair.
  2. Killed a gang member by kicking a vehicle on to him after pulling him out of said vehicle.
  3. Killed a bunch of gang members by chucking a 2 ton metal globe at them.
  4. Kicked a gang general off of a rooftop.
  5. Run down gang members in a semi cab.
  6. Performed various barrel rolls in a tricked out SUV.
  7. Gotten killed numerous times trying a frontal assault on a steroided out gang general holed up in a quarry cave filled with explosive barrels and missles. Found a back door by leaping into the air off of a billboard and hanging on to a rock ledge and eventually making my way to a tunnel that allowed me secret access to the gang general. Threw in enough grenades to take out a small office complex, detonating all of the explosive materials in the process and taking out the holed up general. Picked up the general's corpse, targeted a gang member on the highway below the caves, hurled the general's corpse and killed the gang member.
  8. Ran from rooftop to rooftop collecting agility orbs.
As you can see, there's a fair amount to do in the game, and this isn't counting all of the rooftop races, road races, stunt rings and various other combinations of shooting, blowing up and straight up brawling at your disposal to help take back the city. All of these events work together to rob you of your in game productivity. Oh sure, you start out with every intention of taking out a gang general but the next thing you know, you've spent an hour building a tower out of cars all so you can see how high the top one goes when you blow them all up.

It's not all perfect though. The camera, which is usually done very, very well, sometimes moves into your agent's body when you get too close to a wall. This isn't a problem most of the time, but when you're trying to make a certain jump to try and get to the top of the ferris wheel and complete the rooftop race you've been working on for the past 45 minutes.

The driving is probably my biggest complaint in the game. When you start out, you can't drive for shit, however the main way to get better at driving is to complete races, perform stunts or kill gang members by driving. All of these are next to impossible with your crap-ass driving skills. Add to this the fact that all cars other than Agency cars handle like shit, and Agency cars can only be obtained if you kill yourself and go back to the Agency Keep. Thankfully, if you find enough hidden orbs you'll raise all of your stats a little bit, including driving, and finding enough hidden orbs will raise your driving skill enough for you to start having fun behind the wheel. It seems to me that if you want people to drive in the game, you should make it easier from the start. That's just me though.

The other skills work remarkably well, and the ability to equip yourself with machine guns, rocket launchers and grenades all at the same time means that a group of gang members milling on a rooftop aren't so much a potential threat as an opportunity to increase three skills, possible at once. Yes, if you shoot a gang member in the legs by locking on and targeting their kneecaps, then chucking in a grenade to liven up the party and ending the evening by stomping them to death, you'll get skill points in firearms, explosives and strength. It's truly time management at its finest.

It seems like the game is doing fairly well, no doubt helped by the Halo 3 beta invite packaged with it, which is a good thing, because I think they've got a really strong foundation to build from. The funny thing about this game is that there are so many people I've talked to that had no interest in it, thinking it was a GTA ripoff, only to find themselves having an absolute blast once they play it for some time and give it a chance. Given that this is the case, putting the Halo 3 beta invite in with the game was genius as it allows people who may have written it off as a GTA clone the opportunity to play it and fall in love with it. Hopefully the good word of mouth and strong sales will warrant a sequel as this game is just too much fun for only one outing.

2 comments:

Bones said...

I'm one of those forced to eat crow on Crackdown. It was seeing everyone having a blast in co-op mode that did me in. The game is about as deep as a mud puddle story-wise, but none of that matters while you're soaring across town via rooftops. It's mindless fun at its video game best.

Sequel, eh? I'd say that ending definately points to the possibility of a sequel. ;-)

Greg said...

Sounds fairly interesting, but I'll likely skip it even if it comes out on the PC. My to-play list is just too damn long.