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Dee Yun Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2007-06-25 05:29:40

I'm Blind, Deaf and Dumb Without the Internet

I've streamlined all my bills and finances - one wireless phone bill (no land line), cable covers TV and internet, and the mortgage and utilities are automatically paid for the most part. Being very modern and clever can be a drawback when you're forced to deal with those who are not. Some time back, when I refinanced my mortgage, I blinked when the lender asked for my last six bank statements. I now refuse my bank's exhortations to go completely paperless.

On to review time: Crackdown can be lots of fun. It sports the best "sandbox" city of any game (at least until Grand Theft Auto IV), that's a blast to explore with the proffered game mechanics. The concept is simple: you're a genetically enhanced law enforcement agent tasked with eradicating the gangs plaguing the city. The manner in which you eliminate them affects the development of your super powers. For example, if you punch and kick them, your strength increases. If you plow through them with a vehicle, your driving technique improves. My favorite part of Crackdown is maxing out the agility and strength stats, so you can bound from rooftop to rooftop while throwing cars and the like. It made me yell out "SPOON!" and made me wish there was some way to re-skin the agent as The Tick.

I admire the aesthetic design of the game. Crackdown employs a clean cel-shaded look with fantastic draw distance. The city itself is the most vibrant character in the game, with foot and vehicle traffic covering ground level, and a massive amount of vertical space to explore by scaling buildings. The controls are fairly sharp, and the combat (with its many options) is continually entertaining.

The biggest failing of Crackdown is its lack of compelling narrative. You simply get tougher until you can rub out increasingly difficult gang leaders until the entire city is sanitized. For the type of players who are story focused, there's nothing else for you to do. A lesser (but vexing nonetheless) gripe is that the camera is so tightly focused on your character, that it's difficult to angle it to see above and below you. Considering how much of the game focuses on vertical space, this remained a continual irritant in an otherwise enjoyable experience.

Despite the sparse skeletal story, if you're the type who enjoys exploring and mucking around a game world, I highly recommend Crackdown to you. It's the kind of game where you make your own fun - as if someone gave you the generic lunch bucket of Legos and left you to your own devices. Your gameplay determines how your agent develops, and if you can set your own goals for fun, as opposed to prescribed "finish the game" type objectives you'll enjoy this virtual sandbox immensely.

And obviously, this experience grows immeasurably more satisfying with a co-op player to share the carnage with.

Crackdown - Rank B

Now Playing - Prey (360)

Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce

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