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Crackdown: more fun than a bag of grenades


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We just spent the last 2 hours playing the Crackdown demo and so far we're impressed. Crackdown immediately offers players with several possible objectives, and multiple paths to complete them. We played through the demo twice and found new and different things each time, even with objectives that we had completed before. The gameplay is fairly simple, it's your job to take out local gang leaders and eventually each gang's kingpin. In what manner and in what order you do this is entirely up to you. There are multiple weapons and skills available to you, and each one of them is useful (though we were particularly fond of the agility and explosives skills). The demo tasks you with eliminating leaders of the Los Muertos gang.

Of course, many players will find satisfaction just running around the city, leaping across rooftops, and eliminating a few thugs here and there. There are a few side objectives -- rooftop races and the like -- that you can complete when you get tired of chasing gangs. Unfortunately, you won't be able to run around forever, because the demo becomes timed once you reach level 2 in any particular skill (this won't take long). Once this is acquired, you have 30 minutes to wreak as much havoc as possible. We managed to cap off three different gang leaders in one play through, though there may be more to be had. Honestly, we spent most of out time collecting agility orbs, which grant you the ability to run faster and leap higher once you've collected enough of them. Half the time, we simply stumbled upon a local boss as we leapt from roof to roof.

Gun play is simple, but entertaining. You have a basic lock on system that allows you to target different body parts. At first, your targeting reticle will be large, indicating that your accuracy is low. The reticle will slowly zero in on your target -- the smaller and further away your target, the longer it takes. Once it has zeroed in, your shots will be more accurate and damaging. As you acquire more skill in firearms, the reticle will zero in much faster, making things like headshots easier.

Firearms are nice, but explosives are nicer. We didn't find any RPGs or missile launchers in the demo, but we lobbed a hell of a lot of grenades. Lobbing a grenade under a pile of cars and watching the resulting megasplosion is a sight to behold. Handily, it also kills a lot of gang members simultaneously. If you can manage to raise your explosives skill by a few levels, grenades become positively devastating.

Sure, you can blow up cars for massive damage, but why not cut out the middle man and just toss the car instead? Buff up your strength skill and you can toss almost anything into the fray. Cars, dumpsters, explosive propane tanks, it's all up for grabs. There's nothing quite like heaving a truck onto an unsuspecting foe. It's very satisfying.

In fact, that may be the best way to describe Crackdown, it's satisfying. Granted, it's similar to games you've played before (Spider-Man 2 and GTA come to mind), but it's fun. Almost everyone should be able to find something they like, and co-op only makes the pot sweeter. The game yields lots of fun moments and little surprises (see if you can find the sniper rifle, very handy for rooftop entrances). We can already tell that the potential for machinema and YouTube videos is very high. All in all, the Crackdown demo is a lot of fun, and we're looking forward to spending even more time with it.

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