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Hands-on Crackdown Xbox 360

by Steven Williamson on 26 January 2007, 08:50

Tags: Crackdown, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Xbox 360, Shoot 'em up

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Our initial impressions based on the single player/co-op demo, now available on the Xbox live marketplace.

Crackdown is a free-form urban action game, developed by Real Time Worlds and created by David Jones, one of the original creators of the Grand Theft Auto series. As a futuristic law enforcer, with an arsenal of special abilities under your belt, Crackdown’s sandbox-style gameplay allows you to explore every inch of the neighbor-hood. From scaling buildings in the search of agility orbs to commandeering a vehicle and taking it for a spin around the island, the world is yours to explore. Of course, the game has set missions that need to be completed, which in the demo, tends to revolve around shooting some baddies, but the general premise is to cause as much mayhem as you can muster in as many entertaining ways as possible.

The influence of Jones’ work is clear to see from the moment you step out onto the busy streets of Pacific City. The stylized city environment is similar in design to the GTA series, but is in stark contrast to the cel-shaded graphics of characters and vehicles. Real Time Worlds have saved some of the raw power of the Xbox 360 by creating these cel-shaded animations and in return we get some great gameplay physics, visually impressive shoot-outs and a city that is packed to the rafters with pedestrians, gangs and cars. The result on the saving is smooth frame rates in single player, no matter how frantic the action gets – great!

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Even from just playing the demo, we get the distinct impression that Crackdowns’ strengths lie in the visual style and the mayhem you can cause as you run around the streets of the city. The game appears to lack any sort of decent storyline and its ‘find the baddies and kill them’ missions look set to make up most of the action. After delving a bit further it became clear that Crackdown isn’t about a gripping narrative, it’s about letting you free to experiment, letting your imagination run wild and exploring just how much you push the boundaries within the game.

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There are many differences between other sandbox titles and Crackdown. First off, we have character development which is split into five categories: explosives, athletics, driving, fighting, and shooting. As you become more proficient in these skills you’re character becomes more powerful allowing you to do wacky things, such as picking cars up and using them as weapons or jumping from one building to the next. The more you practice in a specific skill the better and more powerful you’ll become at it and the rewards for practising appear like they will be well worth the effort.