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Crackdown Second Opinion

Brad Gallaway's picture

Crackdown Screenshot

Dan says that Crackdown isn't an unmitigated disaster—I disagree. For a game that received crazy amounts of hype prior to release and was even granted the coveted honor of being host to the Halo 3 beta, it's an embarrassing, incomplete, and hopelessly botched attempt by a developer that either has no idea what they're doing, or lacked the time, talent, and/or resources to bring their concept to fruition. The idea of being a superpowered police officer works, but nothing much in the game does. It's such a train wreck, I hardly know where to begin—but I'll try.

Taking the concept of sandbox gaming to an unwelcome extreme, the Crackdown play experience feels shallow, repetitive, and lacks any sort of intelligence in terms of progression or craft. The developers seem to think that scattering anonymous bad guys around a map and surrounding them with stupid-huge hordes of snipers and rocket-launching goons is a good substitute for designing actual levels and encounters. It's not. It's not even enjoyable. Most of my time was spent either systematically eliminating gangsters like ants streaming from a hive, or trying to find a quiet corner so my life bar could regenerate. There is no complexity here, and no nuance or balance to the play at all.

Even worse, many of Crackdown's individual components don't hold together. For example, the city's architecture feels incredibly false and only serves to impede the player's movement. In fact, it's frustratingly difficult to navigate without taking the time to purposely increase leaping abilities—so much so that I was amazed the developers even bothered to include cars since driving isn't a practical option. It's much faster and more efficient to jump after leveling up, not to mention the fact that the vehicles handle like junk, height of locations is often an obstacle, and the roads are impossible to get around on. Good luck trying to find an on-ramp or even reaching some of the elevated roadways.

It may land in the genre by default, but I hesitate to call Crackdown a "sandbox" game because there's more to the formula than simply being "open." In Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto series, players follow a scripted plot line but can deviate from it at any time in order to participate in other activities. Not only are there alternate subplots to follow, there are a number of pastimes which exist simply for the pleasure of performing them, customization, and small goals that may or may not have an effect on the game overall. In Crackdown, the only option is wreaking havoc. Tired of tracking down bosses? I hope aimlessly leaping around the city or tossing cars for the hell of it sounds entertaining because that's about all there is to accomplish unless wasting time searching for stray icons is appealing. Game time well-spent? Hardly.

It's true that gaining superhuman powers and leaping through the sky to deliver fierce justice should be a winning formula—but there's really nothing to do and even less ability to experiment with or influence the elements that make up the game. Aimless and devoid of substance to the point of being pointless, Crackdown is such a raw, incomplete and unfocused effort that I actually feel insulted by the developers' gall in trying to pass this off as a full-fledged product. If I hadn't played Earth Defense Force 2017, I'd say that Crackdown was the worst thing I've played for the 360. As of right now, it's a dead tie. Rating: 3.0 out of 10.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360  
Developer(s): Realtime Worlds  
Publisher: Microsoft  
Series: Crackdown  
Genre(s): Super Powers   Open World  
ESRB Rating: Mature (17+)  
Articles: Game Reviews  

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Have you ever played

Have you ever played crackdown?

Oddly enough, i have... the

Oddly enough, i have... the review is above. = )

haha.. I needed a laugh..

whenever I want to reset and understand how lucky I am, I read a review like this and give thanks that I'm not so downright stupid as to pen rubbish like your review and so idiotic to pass this of as an informed review.

You clearly haven't read the complete garbage you throw up and compared that to the actual game. Only an online journalist in the moron department would make statements on 'Sandbox' and design as clearly unrelated to Crackdown and how it plays.

Clearly, your just rubbish at playing the game and completely on your own with your views.

Embarrassing, now I know that 'Smart reviews for serious gamers' is akin to 'we really haven't a clue what we are talking about'

unduly harsh.

Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but I hope that people browsing around and who are on the fence with Crackdown (even at this late date) will take the time to realize that this is an instance of an abnormally low score. The game's average (see the Gamestats) site is over an 8/10. By far, it is generally considered to be a very good game. Sorry to hear that this reviewer just didn't take to the experience Crackdown offers.

My own opinion is that it's a wonderful game -- surprisingly good, and far better than I would've originally expected. I would agree it's not a game that everyone will love, though. You have to be into the sandbox thing pretty completely, and for its own sake. If the idea of having a *huge* and highly detailed city to run around wreaking havoc and hunting down gangs in sounds fun to you, you'll love Crackdown. If having exploration of the environment rewarded with hundreds of fast-acting and cumulative power-ups which eventually allow your guy to hurl trucks off of bridges and clear small buildings in a single jump sounds fun to you -- you'll love Crackdown. If being able to take out your adversaries at your leisure, in an order of your choosing, by methods of your choosing, appeals to you -- you'll love Crackdown. If stylized, eye-popping graphics, incredible draw distances, and satisfying, responsive game controls appeal to you -- you'll love Crackdown. I cannot understand some of this reviewers quibbles with having trouble getting around and disliking the architecture. On the contrary, I found this to be one of the best-designed open-ended cities I've ever seen in a game. It's like a huge jungle gym, easy and satisfying to get around (even early on), and it's a design that uses a lot of vertical space as well as horizontal. It's incredibly satisfying to strategically find a way to make it to the top of one of the game's tallest structures (the police tower on the center island, say) -- collect the power-ups inevitably tucked so far up there, take in the amazing view, and then -- just for kicks -- leap off and fall for a full 5 seconds or so before plummeting into the ocean so far below. Pointless? Maybe, but you don't have to do that kind of thing -- it's just fun, a game that will let you go anywhere you can find a way to get yourself to, and usually have an easter egg for you if you make it there. And I can honestly say this is the first game I've ever played that literally gave me vertigo.

But make no mistake, you have to be into the complete freedom, completely-open-environment thing to appreciate Crackdown. There is no story, really. I wouldn't say it's pointless, or that the game doesn't leave you feeling rewarded when you complete objectives, though. Taking out each gang boss is tough and it feels good every time you beat one. I found the enemy gangs a lot of fun to fight, but they admittedly don't have a lot of personality. This isn't another GTA, with a lot of high-profile voice-acting and a plot that builds on itself. It is a sandbox. It is a HUGE sandbox, huge to the point that early in the game you will frequently and literally get lost, and huge to the point that by the end of the game you'll still feel like there are things you didn't get around to seeing. It is a FUN sandbox, that is satisfying to wreak havoc in, and rewarding to explore, with its addictive spherical RPG-like power-ups scattered strategically about the city, so that you feel like you always have to grab just one more. And, if you find the right difficulty setting for your purposes, it is a challenging sandbox, with something like 20 or 21 different bosses and sub-factions, that might take you as little as 6-8 or as many as 20 hours to complete, depending on how you pace yourself and how much ancillary exploration you do.

Anyway, just wanted to offer a 2nd take and counterpoint. The game isn't perfect, but for sandbox-lovers, it's an instant classic. I'd give it a 8 or 9 of 10 myself. I'm sorry the reviewer above didn't have fun with Crackdown. I can understand not everybody takes to this kind of game as much as I do, but giving it a *3* seems insane to me. It does lack the structural depth of a GTA: VICE CITY, say -- but in my opinion, it's bigger, controls better, and was actually more fun.

Thanks for the comment. Even

Thanks for the comment. Even though we may not agree, you gave a good write-up, and i always appreciate readers stepping up to give their own viewpoint without being insulting.

For how many hours did you

For how many hours did you actually play the game?

After reading your review I noticed a few comments that were not applicable. For example, you mentioned that the vehicles have horrible controls, but if you had leveled up your driving skills, you would have noticed that the agency supercar and SUV had impeccable handling (not to mention the Porsche clones and tricked-out Los Muertos sports cars).

Your review is shockingly lower than every other official review that is out there, and I just can not agree with your justifications. Next time you review a game, give it a chance before you crucify it. An unbiased, open-minded perspective is a vital component of a good reviewer's psyche, and your review is obviously lacking in that department.

Oh, and by the way, what score would you give Two Worlds? That game is an utter mess so I am just curious to see what you think of it.

I don't have a specific

I don't have a specific hour-count on hand, but there was only one boss segment left, so what, 3/4ths of the way through? 5/6ths?

I understand your comment about the cars, but my point was that why should i have to "level up" to drive a car in the first place, and secondly, driving is pointless since you need to jump everywhere. the roads are laid out poorly too, so the city isn't nearly as drivable as something like GTA.

sorry you don't agree with my writeup, but games reviwers in general are a notoriously high-scoring bunch of folks, and Crackdown is a poor experience that has a really great idea lost in it somewhere... hopefully a sequel will shape it up.

haven't played Two Worlds yet since i got the Red Rings, but it's on my list.

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