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Blade TV

 PLATFORM: XBOX 360
EXPANDING THE OPEN WORLD GENRE

rackdown begins with a glorious bang, and continues to produce praiseworthy bedlam until the final bullet is fired. The sound of automatic weaponry is constant, a city block isn’t complete without a car smoldering in ruin, and if you are truly lucky, you may see a flaming corpse soaring through the air like a comet twinkling in the night sky. These sights and sounds are fairly common to the open world genre, but Crackdown’s adrenaline-charged gameplay paints them in a light that you haven’t seen before. It’s these larger-than-life thrills that make this game an explosive play.

It starts out with the chaos that you would only see by obtaining a five-star rating in Grand Theft Auto. The game doesn’t peacefully begin like most open world games. It’s pure insanity. And it’s wicked fun. With martial law sweeping across the city, the government has been forced to unveil its top-secret super soldier program. Part Robocop, part Incredible Hulk, you are a genetically enhanced crime fighter designed to take a beating, dish out punishment, and more importantly, evolve to meet the challenge at hand. Evolution is the key to the thrills that Crackdown delivers. Every bullet that you fire, every car that you lift and throw, and every thug that you splatter on the windshield of your truck has a purpose, as every action rewards the player with experience. From the outset of the game, you are already the strongest person walking the streets of Pacific City. You only become more of a dominating force as the game unfolds. At the beginning, your jumping skill is impressive for a basketball player. After your agility levels rise a few times, you’ll be leaping over buildings with a single bound. This system affects everything. Your firearms will become more precise, you’ll be able to lift more weight, and certain vehicles will even transform to become more efficient.

The game allows players to assassinate with style. Why would you just fire a rocket launcher blast at a car when you can pick up the vehicle, hurl it high into the sky, then fire rocket launcher blasts at it to keep it airborne for seven seconds? Why would you enter a complex from the front door when you can scale the side of the building, then rain hell upon a gang lord from a safe distance? Crackdown’s gameplay is over-the-top and crafted remarkably well. You never have to fuss with the controls, and you always feel like you are in complete control of any situation.

The goal of the game –and yes, there is only one goal to complete – is to eliminate all of the major players within each of the gangs. This is an area where Crackdown both excels and fails. It’s a great feeling knowing that you have complete freedom to run amok in a vast city, but at the same time, you really don’t feel like you are a part of something. The lack of structure definitely hurts the game, but it’s not nearly enough to kill it. The excitement that it delivers is far too great to deny. This is a sandbox experience that has an incredibly strong gameplay pulse. If you enjoy spending time with open world games just to see how much insanity you can create, you’ll love Crackdown.

This game is great fun for one player, but it also scores high marks for its entertaining co-op play. With a super-powered friend at your side, you can team up and tackle gangs together, or as Joe and I experienced, blow each other away for hours on end. Nothing says friendship like a car to the face. Crackdown isn’t a slouch in the Achievement department, either. In fact, I’ll go as far to reward this game with the best list of Achievements since Dead Rising. Juggling corpses, vehicular acrobatics, and rampaging are factored in. My favorite is to shoot and kill five gang members in a single jump while airborne.

The experience basically boils down to the Incredible Hulk thrashing about in a kiddy pool. You have so much power and potential, but it’s set in a shallow frame.

  

JOE JUBA   8.5
Missions have never been my favorite part of open world games. I’d much rather wail on passers-by than escort some bozo to a nightclub, and Crackdown is finally rewarding me for being so easily distracted. I run over thugs, and my driving improves. I beat chumps to death, and I get stronger. This sense of progression is what gives Crackdown its unique identity; everything you do has a purpose, and no destructive impulse is wasted. Approaching the scattered gang kingpins puts your skills to the test no matter how you develop your character, and the fact that you can play the whole game co-op over Xbox Live only adds to your options. My biggest complaint is that when these elements aren’t all clicking, Crackdown suffers from its lack of structure. A greater selection of side tasks would have helped, as would a setting with more personality. The world may be visually distinctive, but the three gangs are populated solely by ethnic stereotypes, and there’s no biting humor like one might find in GTA. It needs more depth to really make waves, but Crackdown’s massive destruction and over-the-top heroics are perfect for pure entertainment.
8.5
CONCEPT:
Move over, Robocop! Take a seat, Captain America! Crackdown’s super hero-powered crime fighting is addictive and packed with amazing feats
GRAPHICS:
The comic book visual style isn’t as striking as you would hope. It’s bland, but backed up by some great explosions
SOUND:
The soundtrack, which boasts over 100 tracks, isn’t as mainstream as GTA, but it fits well with the action. Also, hats off to the Foley artists for the thumping surround sound effects
PLAYABILITY:
The gameplay fits like a glove, and allows players to perform mighty actions with ease
ENTERTAINMENT:
It doesn’t offer a story or much of a mission structure, but its remarkable gameplay outweighs these shortcomings
REPLAY:
Moderately High
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