Free roaming sandbox games are few and far between, good free roaming sandbox games that mimic a certain genre are even rarer. So in an industry full of seemingly endless clones of Grand Theft Auto
what does Real Time World’s
Crackdown actually offer if anything?
Crackdown puts you as a futuristic government bio-agent, a kind of supercop that can evolve five particular skills through rigorous elimination of bad guys, and climbing to heights that only Spiderman
can dream of. The city is in dire need of a hero, three major gangs control it and crime is at an all time high.
Enter the Agency, proponents of this bio-mechanical crime fighting approach. From their tower at the centre of the city they can strike out in a Batman-esque manner to deliver justice to the bad guys.
The first problem that Crackdown suffers from is that it has no real story. You get a small cut-scene when you first start the game; this is minimal and relies upon a comic-book style visual to tell. You get some info-data-burst scene when you enter a gang territory for the first time, and some regular (annoying) updates from the Agency when new intel becomes available.
This isn’t enough to drive most gamers desire to play the game beyond blowing the heck out of gang members, cars, and other exploding objects.
Yet Crackdown is still a fairly addictive game and kudos should be given to the developers, they have tried something pretty inventive and out-there compared to the almost linear stories of other titles. Having an evolving agent that changes appearance as you increase their core skills adds a slight RPG-flavour to the game.
Each agent has five core skills. Athletics (the only skill you can’t increase directly in combat – you need to find various glowing orbs to do this, some are placed way up on rooftops and other hard to reach areas), Driving, Strength, Explosives and Firearms. As each of the physical skills, Athletics and Strength increase your agent transforms to look tougher and bigger. Athletics allows you to run faster, jump higher (as high as around 30 feet from a standing jump) and long jump far enough to make Neo jealous.
Crackdown also has some Parkour, you can actually climb up buildings by hanging onto ledges and leaping madly upwards. If you catch onto certain objects whilst falling your agent will hang or pull himself up.
Strength allows you to pick up bigger and bigger objects until you’re hurling trucks around like they were made of candyfloss. It also governs how much damage you do in hand-to-hand (as well as can take from enemies and long falls), so at the Max rating you’ll be able to do some serious harm to your enemies and take quite a bit of damage.
Driving allows you greater control over the vehicles in the game. Normal cars handle pretty well, but you’ll want to increase your skill here (By running gang members over, doing acrobatic moves in the SUV or completing other challenges like Stunt Markers) so you can get the best out of the three Agency vehicles that are available. When fully pimped-out via your Driving skill the Agency: Supercar, SUV and Truck Cab are futuristic wonders that are the choice pick for getting around.