Justin Lee On February 19, 2007 at 3:15 pm

It is tough to judge games at E3, but there were two games that looked extremely interesting at E3 2006. One was Gears of War and the other release from Microsoft was Crackdown on the Xbox 360. The potential for this open ended third person shooter game in a massive city seemed like a great addition to the genre.

The game takes place in the fictitious "Pacific City", the city has been overrun by gangs and crime is at an all time high. The police or "peace keepers" in the game are unable to take down the gangs…this is where you come in as a super cop of sorts. Genetically engineered you grow and get leveled up as you battle the cities various gangs.

There are three main islands, which oddly enough have three gangs: Los Muetos, the Volk and finally the Shai-Gen. The area your police station is located, called "The District" you are smack in the middle of all three islands, your station is under siege the moment you drive out and just see how the city has gone to crap. You can drive one of three police cars when you start off from "The District", a Supercar, District SUV or a Big rig cab. As you battle the gangs and try to take out mini bosses and finally the gang’s leader, you will start to notice that you are gaining abilities. The main abilities in Crackdown are agility, strength, firearms, explosives and driving. Agility (aka super building jumping) can only be raised by collecting orbs around the city; the harder it is to get the glowing orb…the more you will gain. The other abilities such as strength, firearms, and explosives are raised by using them. Kick butt using your melee attack will raise your strength to new heights where you can even pick up a car and throw it 500 meters or more! If you raise your abilities high enough, your Agency vehicles will have one "super move" each, I won’t give away what they are…but one does involve firepower.

While the game is totally open ended, it is important to recapture supply points or what I would like to call them: "save points", located throughout the massive city. Without it, when you die you will restarting far away from the location you were at; once capture you can jump from supply point to supply point with a click of a button while standing on one. You would also think recapturing a supply point would involve a huge firefight, it doesn’t except for the first one. The other supply points you need to recapture are hard to get to, it involves crazy jumps from other buildings, which brings us back to collecting orbs. While I did not go out of my way often to collect agility orbs, you do have to collect them in order to jump high enough in some areas. If you can not make a jump to a supply depot, just look around for a handful of orbs and you’ll make that jump in a few minutes.

Another annoying thing about the supply points are the randomness of enemies that appear in the game. Some supply points are guarded by police which means no enemies, others are not and sometimes when you "beam to one" you’ll be met with 5 or 6 enemies firing at you. I guess that enemies appearing at random make the game less predictable since it is a totally open world.

There are just enough weapons to keep you entertained, from a simple hand gun to a rocket launcher. The sniper rifle is fun to play with as you can take out enemies with one or two shots, the rocket launcher is just plain over kill as you’ll end up taking out civilians which lowers your points and will most likely get you under fire from local police because they think you have gone corrupt.

Driving is a key part of Crackdown; you can drive just about ANYTHING on the road. From tiny smart cars to huge trucks that are carrying huge rockets (yes the city has gone to crap). Most of the cars in the game handle like a rock, except a few sports cars or the Agency police car. Of course, you would not expect a beat up 1920’s car to handle like a 2030 supped up patrol car. There are various race points in game where you can better your driving skills by completing them, the strange part is some of the "courses" are straight through heavy pedestrian areas which just makes it insane not to kill any innocents and you’ll end up losing points more than gaining. My favorite type of "course" is the roof top races, where you jump from roof to roof…it is simply amazing how high you can jump when your character is leveled up. The view from the top of buildings is insane; the draw distance shows off the Xbox 360 hardware quite well. There is a bit of slowdown in some areas of the game, especially when the game interrupts you with some new intel in the middle of a firefight, not good. Speaking of interruptions, the in game announcer is voiced quite well…he guides you through tutorial like instructions and also provides you with a "well done" every now and then. I just wish later on in the game he would stop saying the same things over and over.

The controls of the game are very slick, you can choose to fire your weapon using the floating cross hair or choose to lock onto an enemy. When you get the hang of locking onto an enemy, you won’t go back to free form aiming. Imagine locking onto an enemy, blasting their arm so they drop the weapon, unlocking and relocking onto another firing target in the matter of seconds. This control system makes for a quick and insane firefights; ever watch the movie Heat? If you did watch the movie Heat, you’ll feel like you are a part of the final firefight, but just longer! I did have some problems with the zoom, for some odd reason if you zoom and fire off a few shots…your weapon would switch all of a sudden to a non zooming weapon, I have yet to isolate the problem or if I was pressing something wrong…but it kept happening even with full ammo.

While you do have a mission of sorts to take out the leader of all three gangs, you can simply just drive around taking out thugs, building hopping or collecting all types of orbs; some Orbs are just for Achievement points and aren’t forced upon you. Exploring the city on foot is insane, it would take you hours to walk from one island to another. The city is well designed, but it just doesn’t seem alive, everyone runs from you because you have a gun…even though you are a police officer. I noticed that when I leveled up more some people would give me a thumbs up…but almost everyone just ran in fear from me even if I wasn’t firing at a gang member.

The bosses are quite forgettable and really do not increase in difficulty, the key to breaking into the gang leaders base of operations is to take out mini bosses first. Sometimes you are spoon fed the information as to the location of the minion you are to dispose of with a blinking orange indicator on your radar or sometimes you’ll end up driving around town for 30 minutes aimlessly until you stumble upon the hideout. Once you take out enough mini bosses, your trusty announcer friend will tell you what the odds of taking out the boss are. Frankly anything below 30% is asking for about 100 enemies to be waiting for you at the gang leaders strong hold, the higher you make that percentage…the less enemies will be waiting for you.

Online co-op mode was something everyone was looking forward to, however there is no offline co-op mode and the online/system link co-op mode seems thrown together too quickly. Take for example, you start off on your single player game and "allow anyone to join you", if you accept the page…you will be booted out of the game and started off from whoever is hosting it. This might seem like a minor problem, but it is a major one if you have been playing for 6 hours and the person that paged you played for 30 minutes. You will be super powerful and the other player won’t be able to make the same jumps as you. The "allow friends only" seems better as you can co-ordinate better ahead of time before starting up the co-op mode. You can wander off in co-op mode and never see your friend again unless you voice chat them and meet up at a supply point. There was some lag while I was playing the game, however the game was not released yet as of this writing and I was unable to figure out if it was just something Microsoft needs to fix or if lag is sometimes really bad in co-op mode.

You can finish the game in roughly 8 – 10 hours, even with the lulls of driving around aimlessly because I can’t find one of the mini bosses didn’t make for a dull game. There are enough firefights and "missions" to keep you motivated enough to get toward the ending of the game, if you can call it that. There was one thing that bothered me; I just never felt like I was part of the city, sure it would turn to night and day; you would see people walking around or running in fear from a firefight with police and gang members…but I just felt ALONE. I couldn’t call for backup, I would randomly see police firing at gangs and would hop out of my car to join in the fight…the police would celebrate by shooting in the air (not a wise move on behalf of the police). Over all I really did enjoy Crackdown and massive Pacific City; so if you are looking for a third person action game…get cracking with Crackdown for the Xbox 360. It’s better than crack, minus bad side effects!


Crackdown is a fast and furious open ended action game. Blast, run over and blow up baddies all you want.


Highly detailed textures, amazing drawing distance and spot on city design.


Music can be annoying with some really “unique” non English tracks. But over all sound effects and ambient noise is good.


Bring on more gang members, I’ll blow you away. I just wish the game was longer and more online modes than just a basic co-op.

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