Step into the future of law enforcement as a genetically enhanced agent of justice in Realtime Worlds, 'Crackdown.' The world is your playground as you remove the filth of the streets in this unique blend of super-powers and urban crime. You’re going to love this one; here is our review of Crackdown exclusivity for the Xbox 360.

Crackdown is a great achievement for UK developer 'Realtime Worlds.' It seems David Jones, the original creator of 'Grand Theft Auto' has found the magic once again within the streets of Pacific City. Even though Crackdown's core is the old run-and-gun them down action game, Crackdown still manages to find its own identity. Addictive, exhilarating and fun, Crackdown has everything you need in an action game.

Crackdown is appropriately named, and that’s not because you crack down on crime, it’s more like, a hit off a crack rock. Just like most other open-ended games, having freedom becomes addictive, even if you’re not focused on the main story. In Crackdown's case, simply running around collecting orbs and gunning down random foes is extremely satisfying, it's a formula that never looses. When you’re done running around and acting like a maniac, you can turn your attention on the main story of criminal elimination which ironically is basically the same thing.

In Crackdown you’re placed in the genetically enhanced shoes of a super cop, engineered by the law enforcement organization called the “Agency”. Using the latest in technology and a pile of firearms your job is to track down and eliminate the gangs that plague the fictitious Pacific City. Like a newborn, you leave your cloning cell and start the war against crime, evolving and taking out the enemy one at a time. Evolution is a key phrase in Crackdown because your abilities grow the more you play. In no time you will start to perform at super human levels.

Influenced by movies like the Matrix and popular comic book characters your characters five skill categories will improve past their basic properties, and then some. Each skill can be maxed out to receive an achievement along with giving your character amazing abilities. Agility is one of the most important and addictive skill to increase. With a high agility rating you can reach previously unobtainable heights, leap and jump extremely high and run at a super speed which maxs out at 40mph. 500 agility boosting orbs are scattered across Pacific city, so finding them, and boosting your agility is a lot of fun, especially when you get the nerve to climb up some of Pacific Cities towering buildings. The sense of scale comes into form as your agility increases, like the 'Spider-Man' games or recent 'Superman' game from 'Electronic Arts,' you will be astounded with the distance and scale represented in Crackdown.

The other physical attribute that is upgraded is your strength. Boosting your strength helps you more than the obvious damage boost in hand to hand combat, it also makes your body more resilient along with boosting the amount of weight you can lift. As your strength increases the objects you sadistically love hurling into enemies will get bigger and bigger until cars and trucks are as common as throwing a snowball. Similar to the sense of scale in Spider-Man, Crackdown makes you feel like you're the Hulk.

The next two upgrades can be mashed together, they are Explosives and Firearms. Increasing both of these skills improve your killing power and efficiency with weapons. For firearms your range, precision and speed will increase while explosives gets a boost to effectiveness and blast radius. It’s that simple. Lastly is the driving attribute which takes form by spending time behind the wheel in races or running into gang members. When the driving skill increases your handling will improve, but so will the actual physical form of the Agencies vehicles. There are three vehicles, the Supercar, Truck cab and SUV. Each one takes on a new look and properties as you improve your character. Driving is a harder skill to max out, but once you make your mark as the ultimate driver, you will be impressed at the Agency vehicles wild new look and increased diversity.

Amping up your Agents abilities is wonderfully balanced and becomes more intriguing then the main plot line. The idea of an ever evolving soldier is a great idea and it’s good to see the traditional role of stats take on more gratifying role without being too bogged down with statistics and pointless leveling. Without this portion attached to Crackdown, you would have nothing to latch onto and Crackdown would be another generic action game. Crackdown can easily be compared to the style of Ultimate Spiderman and for a simple contrast to my point, imagine Spider-Man without the ability to shoot webbing. Yip, Crackdown’s player evolution is that important.

The controls in Crackdown are smooth, responsive and easy to learn which helps lend itself to the games success. From driving to the auto target system for precision shooting, all the controls have been streamlined and logically approached. Even the use of the regenerating shield is smartly improved on by providing multiple levels of defense. For one better, the enemies also auto regenerate which helps even out the playing field making Crackdown one the first games to implement the auto regeneration for both sides.

I can already see a Crackdown II for the future, or more like, hope for a Crackdown II in the future. Crackdown could be so much more than it is, and that is only because Realtime has built a wonderful gaming world ripe to be exploited. One reason we need a Crackdown II is to focus on multiplayer which is almost non-existent in Crackdown besides the Xbox Live only co-op multiplayer. Thinking of an open-ended war zone online gets me giddy and could be the Grand Theft Auto-styled answer to the Battlefield series.

Crackdown also suffers from a short lived story-line that clocks in under 10 hours leaving only the Xbox Achievements to accomplish. Multiplayer or more objectives would really help out Crackdown and make it more robust like you expect out of this style of game. Even 'Saints Row' had you running around like a madman after the game was finished, marking out for a long array of mini-games. Like the 'Grand Theft Auto' series progressed as well, Crackdown doesn't have air, or water vehicles which would have been nice, along with motorcycles, or any assortment of futuristic transportation. All these factors seem to be lacking because of a time restriction, if Crackdown had another year, I’m sure these criticisms would be washed away. All is forgivable and for what Crackdown does right it excels.

Crackdown has a unique graphic novel, line-art look to its graphics which helps the game stand apart from pack. Even games that take on a comic book look haven’t been done to the same level of polish as Crackdown. The closest comparison would have to be Activision’s Ultimate Spider-Man which borrowed more from the comics then the refined look of a graphic novel. In 720p the textures are very crisp and the game presents its self well from the technical and creative standpoint. The architecture is interesting with a lot of detail put into the buildings and surrounding environments. Although each area of Pacific Island has a slightly different look and feel from each other, Crackdown still falls victim of a lot of repeated items and themes which is understandable in a game world this large. Aside from the standard trappings of an open world I really like Crackdowns cyber-punk characters, vicious design of the gangs, and not-to-distant future look of the world, inhabitants and vehicles.

The audio is also fairly strong in Crackdown, highlighted by the original and pumping soundtrack and the “America’s Most Wanted” narrator. The vehicles also have a good loud tone to them, along with the explosions and weapons. That’s the good, which is good, but the bad comes out of the lifeless city. The people don’t have much to say if anything and the comments from the gangs are pretty boring and basic. If anything, Crackdown could have paid a little more attention to the atmosphere and pedestrians in Pacific City. Besides the small audio complaint Crackdown is gives us a fresh new vibe to glaze our eyes upon.

The ambitious Crackdown is an impressive accomplishment for first time developer Realtime Worlds. Blending together a comic book inspired super cop in a 'Grand Theft Auto' crime infected city is gaming gold. For what Crackdown does right, it nails it, Crackdown is a blast to play. It’s too bad the buzz of Crackdown wares off just as it gets going. Crackdown disappoints, only because I wanted more. More missions, more villains, more vehicles, more multiplayer, and the list goes on. Even though Crackdown falls a short of becoming a classic, I have faith that another dosage of "Crack"down could be the start of something epic and memorable on the same scales as the aspiring 'Grand Theft Auto' series. For now, I’ll have to be complacent running on the roof-tops looking for orbs.

Gameplay: 8, Graphics/Sound:9, Innovation: 8.5, Mojo: 8.5 Final: 8.5 / 10

Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 02.13.07

Similar Games: Spider-Man 3 (6.5) | Crackdown 2 (7.0) | Saints Row (8.5)



Realtime Worlds


Feb 2007



Players 1-2
HDTV 720p
Dolby Digital 5.1