In a Parkour stylee
Our favourite feature so far is the Parkour or free-running element of the game which allows you to find novel ways of reaching difficult places by using your agility. Littered around the environment you’ll find agility orbs which, until you’ve increased your skills, you will only be able to get to if you use your brain: for example, we spotted an ammo point on the third floor roof of a building, but the stairway only allowed us to reach the first floor. So we grabbed onto a ledge on the side of the building and maneuvered our way around the outskirts until there was a spot where we could climb onto the second floor. We spent a good 5 minutes trying to work out how we get to the next floor but, thanks to the excellent co-op mode, our editor worked out that we had to jump over to the adjacent building, climb up on the third floor ledge by standing on a dust-bin and then make a death defying jump back across to the position where the ammo point was nestled.
As our agility increased these puzzling scenarios became easier because we could jump further and higher making almost any area accessible. We’re not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, but we actually enjoyed leaping around the City and exploring; more than actually getting on with the main mission. Part of this could be due to the fact that we currently have fairly low skills and our character hasn’t developed enough yet, which would make killing enemies much more fun, but our dis-interest was also fuelled by some poor combat.
Throughout the demo we were always being shot at from somewhere; almost every corner had a fight breaking out and we’d hop out of our car to join in the action. Our main gripe is that targeting was all over the place. In Crackdown, you have the option of free-aim and auto-aim mode, but the latter just doesn’t work very well. We were forever targeting the wrong person, sometimes it would automatically target a vehicle instead of an enemy; the whole mechanic just felt shaky. Shoot-outs don't require much skill and it's more a matter of running and jumping around (Castle Wolfenstein style) to avoid bullets. We just ditched the auto-aim function in favour of free-aim mode. Furthermore, we'd go as far as saying that the enemy AI still needs some work before release as they don't seem to be totally switched on to the action going on around them.
On the flip-side, throwing grenades and using more powerful weapons such as rocket-launchers are much more fun as well as being visually stunning. Lob a grenade into the path of half a dozen cars and watch them rocket into the air and land back to earth with an almighty bang or climb to the top of a building and aim a rocket launcher at a gang of thugs and watch them get splattered across the street; combat becomes far more interesting and exciting when you experiment.