Just Finished: Crackdown (2007)

I’ve probably played a dozen or two Xbox 360 games in my limited time of having one (a little over a year at this point), but I’m pretty sure that Crackdown is my favorite of those games, if not that, definitely top three (I really liked Arkham Asylum and Portal). One of the reasons I liked it so much is that it reminds me of my definite all-time favorite PS2 games Spider-Man 2. I loved that game’s free range map with all kinds of mini trophies that kept me exploring the New York City landscape in order to track them down and beat up criminals. Unlike Spidey 2, though, Crackdown doesn’t bother with more complicated boss battles. Yes, there are bosses that you’re going after, but there aren’t any puzzle-based attack systems or changes in game play. You’re just running through a strange area with tons of dudes shooting at you while trying to get to the bossman. This turned out to be a long one, so hit the jump if you want my full thoughts on one of my new favorite games.

Here’s the deal, you play a super cop running around a city broken up into three sections each run by its own game. You get various kinds of power-ups based on the skills you use like shooting, physical attacks, driving and jumping/climbing. Aside from the mini power ups and new skills learned, the other thing that reminded me of Spidey 2 was the fact that you’re climbing and jumping around like crazy. There were a few sticking points in the jumping mechanic that bugged me like when you get blown up you can’t recover yourself. I also wish there was some kind of grappling hook or something for when you’re falling to save yourself, but what are you gonna do?

So, as you’re running around the city killing bad guys you reclaim save points that supposedly belonged to the police force sometimes prior to this, plus little icons show up when you’re near a boss. That’s when you jump into the fray with bullets flying trying to get your way to the boss. In theory, as you take out the bosses, it alters the other bosses or at least the forces protecting them. I don’t know if that’s the case, but considering each one is supposed to have a specific job in the gang structure it would make sense that when that piece is taken out, things should get easier. The bosses each have a number from 1 to 7 but I found myself going after them all out of order. In fact, I think I went after the gangs themselves out of order, as I killed all the Los Muertos, then the Shai-Gen then the Volk, but considering how easy of a time I had tearing through the Volk and how much trouble the Shai-Gen gave me, it would seem I did things backwards.

As much as I loved the game and as addicted as I got to it, tearing through it in maybe a couple of weeks, I did have some problems with it. First off, the narrator got up to John Madden levels of annoyance. Every now and then he pops in with brand new information that’s actually important, but most of the time he’s either chastising you or telling you how to play the game which is crazy annoying after you’ve already got the basics down. I wish he had been a little bit more informative at times, especially when it’s clear that the player is having problems. There were plenty of times where I was wondering around like a dumbass trying to figure out what to do even though I had killed all the bad guys. Had he said something other than “Follow the blinking lights on your HUD to find the criminal,” maybe I wouldn’t want to kill him.

Speaking of killing, I’m a bit conflicted on the AI behind the bad guys. Sometimes they’re just standing there without realizing you and others they’re blasting away like you’re the devil. There’s some lack of consistency and I’m pretty sure their bullets hurt me more than mine (which are supposedly better) hurt them. That’s just annoying. I also wish there would have been some more interesting weapons. I spent most of the game with the cool machine gun and the rocket launcher because nothing fun or new presented itself to me after a certain point. And my last point about killing is that the fighting mechanic seemed a little busted. Now, I don’t need a full-on fighting system. Hitting one button and kicking or punching is fine by me, but I wish the character spun around more accurately when trying to attack. I can’t tell you how many times I was trying to kick a bad guy to death with my back to him and I was just kicking the air like a fool. The same thing happen sometimes when you’re aiming your gun. Sometimes it picks up on a car while you’re trying to shoot someone right in front of you and a LOT of times you locked on to a guy you just killed while trying to go after another. Some tweaks to that in a sequel would be greatly appreciated.

But, all-in-all, the good completely outweighs the bad and I would recommend it to anyone looking to find a title for the 360. There’s nothing like that sense of running around a giant open area, leaping from building to building and blasting enemies away when you’re not kicking them to death. It captures a great superhero element that I’m always looking for in games, which explains why I used to buy comic book based video games almost exclusively. I’m still hoping for another Spider-Man game to update the graphics and gameplay of Spider-Man 2, but keep either being disappointed or having people tell me not to even bother. Arkham Asylum was definitely a step in the right direction for Batman, so I’m hoping more and more superhero games will take this approach and rock my world.

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