Monday, March 12, 2007

Crackdown Final Impressions

Eli woke up at 4:30 Sunday morning, and while he went back to sleep, so I came downstairs and started playing Crackdown about 5 a.m. And while he was napping Sunday afternoon, I finished the main game.

I've said ad nauseum that great games overcome their flaws. That absolutely describes Crackdown. The complaints about mission similarity are very fair. In spite of that, though, the game is an absolutely huge amount of fun. I think it's far better than it reviewed, because most reviewers are trying to finish the game--so they can write the review. Some of the best parts of Crackdown, though, involve wandering around the city and trying all kinds of crazy things--jumping off buildings, experimenting with the rocket launcher, throwing cars onto bad guys, rigging up absolutely enormous explosions. You can try almost anything that you can imagine, and it's all fun.

Great games also imprint on your consciousness. Every time I see a decent-sized building, my mind automatically looks for a path up to the top. Not in the game--I'm doing that in real life.

Something I haven't mentioned until now is the architecture of the city. It's superb. The variety of buildings and the detail is outstanding, and it has a very "live" feel. It's very satisfying to stand on a tall building and watch the city lights come to life as dusk falls. It's a very striking game visually.

Also first-rate are the responsiveness of the controls. It makes an enormous difference to be playing a game of this type with controls that work so well.

There is an enormous amount of attention to detail. As an example (and I don't think this is a spoiler), when the main game ends and all the gangleaders have been defeated, their former bases are converted into other buildings--like giant fitness centers. It's both very funny to see that and very impressive. How many developers would take the time to add that kind of polish?

I think the single biggest failing of the game is that there are so few hints to advanced gameplay techniques. You occasionally get a hint, but they're infrequent. It would have been interesting if they had given a gameplay hint for every 10 agility or secret orbs that you collected, particularly if they were advanced hints. That would also have encouraged people to keep hunting for the orbs.

Outstanding game, and it's going to be popular for a long time. And I'm already looking forward to the sequel. For those of you buying a 360 just to play Guitar Hero II, this game, along with Dead Rising, should absolutely be on the top of the must-play list.

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