Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy
Nov 29th 2004
Breakdown has taken a stand against the traditional concepts of the First Person Shooter genre and has broken down the walls to give us an immersing original experience.
The Game:Breakdown or Project Breakdown as it's referred to in the game is a first person shooter adventure game with some hand to hand combat thrown in. You are in control of the character Derrick Cole who wakes up to find himself in a testing facility in Japan with all of his memories gone. Soon he finds himself aided by a woman Alex Hendrickson to escape his surroundings while being chased down by the military and some mysterious albino creatures. Breakdown's interaction between character and cinematic's reminded me of another great title which shifted the world of gaming, of course I'm referring to Valve's Half-Life.
As you might have heard Breakdown is trying to give a more real representation of how a first person game should be presented. Derrick has arms! He has hands and a whole body. and. wait. He also has feet! If you sense a sarcastic overtone it is because in most, or almost every other first person game you might see an hand holding a weapon or such, but when you look down. there are no feet. Strange? Yes well now that Breakdown has convincingly made a more realistic feeling to being in the game, it seems silly why no other characters had any feet! Breakdown offers another dimension to gaming by simple adding arms and having your character correctly act how they would if you where looking through their eyes. In the start of the game you will even have the chance to visit the porcelain god to spew your lunch. Uhh, I am not sure if that is good or bad yet.
Breakdown does have its downfalls which really are unfortunate because otherwise the game is great. The first complaint would have to be with the control interface. It does the job, but for a majority of the time the controls will seem a little backward and rough. It takes a while to get used to the hand to hand combat, and at times the auto-targeting system can become a pain. Breakdown is challenging enough and the control issues only add to the difficulty. Overall once you get used to the controls they become bareable, but I believe there had to be a better way of designing a better interface.
The second downfall of Breakdown with is the linear gameplay, and familiar plot structure. The game unfolds nicely and they weave you though an entertaining path, but while you are rescuing people and running from the T'Lan warriors you will have a good assumption of what is going to happen next. The game does get broken up with Derrick's random flashbacks which bring life into the game, but since there is usually only one way to move ahead some gamers will grow tired of the repeat, repeat syndrome. If you can play the game without repeating checkpoints often, the game moves at a good pace. For my personal tastes I was satisfied with the story, but in no way was I ever overwhelmed. Giving credit to Namco for doing great job at making some ordinary sequences feel more realistic and satisfying then any other game has done.
Graphics & Sound: Breakdown's visuals are adequate. Breakdown seemed to overuse all of the same dull textures through out the game and giving the low variety of environments doesn't help break up the dull feeling. The character models are a step above the enovorments, not in palalogons rather in smooth animation. If you have the chance sit back and watch your partner Alex rip though some enemy solders and you'll get my point. Breakdown isn't Unreal, but it works.
The sound is thing of beauty in Breakdown, rebounding off graphics is great sound. The voice acting is so, so but the sound effects of the weapons and other environmental aspects are superb. I have never heard a more convincing gun fight in a game to date. The bullet reflections and gun mechechanics sound great. If you ever need the police around, raise the volume and engage in one of the many Matrix inspired gunfights and they be at your door in no time. It sounds that good.
Innovation: Breakdowns strong suit would be its aspiring innovations into how a first person game can look and feel. I conveyed most of the games innovations in the review already and the main focus is making you feel one with the character. Breakdown succeeds in goals by giving the gamer a realistic feeling of being Derrick Cole, the helpless victim of bizarre circumstances. It's a shame his character doesn't have more depth, I like Derrick but overall I really didn't care if he succeeded in his mission.
It's great that developer and publisher Namco took a chance in developing a game which strays from the normal routine of gaming architect. It takes one game to start and the rest will follow, which is a good thing for us gamers.
Mojo: Breakdown is up and down on the mojo scale. The concept is awesome; fighting in first person is a much needed addition to gaming. Unless the guns have unlimited ammo, wouldn't it be nice to know how to sting like a bee! Breakdown has its special moments where the mojo rules and you're experiencing something new and refreshing in the game. The flashback sequences are great. Nothing can describe the feeling when you first step through a door and end up feeling like you just landed in Oz. Breakdown has the mojo even if the scale does fluctuate a bit at times.
Lowdown: Breakdown is hard game to judge, and if you're reading reviews on the game you will find that some will love this game while others hate. It's just not right hating a game which tries so hard to do something fresh. Even with its flaws the Breakdown is better then the average game. Take the time with this gem from Namco and decide for yourself. How does it feel to be Derrick Cole?
Gameplay: 7, Graphics/Sound: 7, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 9. Final: 7.5