Saturday, February 24, 2007

Crackdown Review

RealTime World's dip into the free-roam genre is a substantial one but the experience is over too quickly for Crackdown to be labelled a top notch game.

Many are going to label Crackdown as a clone of the hit series Grand Theft Auto. Many will say the game doesn't have a plot, that it's repetitive, or doesn't have the longevity to compete with other titles on the market. Some may even say it's just the free perk that comes with the Halo 3 Beta. Whatever your opinion on Crackdown, I found it to be one fun and addicting ride, even if it was a short one.

In Crackdown you play a superhuman clone agent who must rid the gigantic area of Pacific City from gang control. As you progress through the game your character becomes more and more powerful and by the time you reach your peak you can lift over 10 tons, jump roughly 40 feet, shoot and drive like a pro, and blow the hell out of anything in your path with explosives. Levelling up your character is actually quite an appealing task as you must collect orbs scattered around the city as well as perform stunts and do both car and rooftop races.

When you feel that your agent is strong enough to hold his own in a fight you have the option of going head-to-head with any of the three gangs terrorizing Pacific City. In order to take down each gang you must eliminate the six gang bosses in each squad and then assassinate the kingpin of each gang. That's 21 boss missions for those keeping score at home and while that does seem like quite a challenge it's one that's fairly repetitive and over too quickly.

See, the premise for each of these missions is simple: find boss, take down boss' guards, kill boss, rinse and repeat. It's the same for every mission and it gets old fairly quickly. Now, it may be easy to go about this if there was a strong plot moving the action along but there is nothing to that effect. All you get is a little blurb about the gangs controlling the city and a ending cinematic that comes completely out of nowhere once you've beaten the game.

The lack of innovative missions and a plot doesn't hurt this game too much though. Hours can be spent enjoying the massive game world at your disposal, both from street level and on the rooftops above. See, once your agent can jump the maximum of 40 feet there are no limits to where you can go. Basically, if you see it you can climb it, including the towering Agency Tower located between the three islands which make up Pacific City. Most of Crackdown's fun can be found here. Exploring the city and essentially creating your own missions.

Another notable thing found in Crackdown are the explosions. As your agent levels up the radius of his explosions becomes more and more significant to the point where you can destroy an entire city block with one blast. This can get quite interesting if you decide to create exciting explosions of your own, piling up cars and trucks and blowing them to smithereens. The explosions in this game look and play amazingly.

Crackdown has its ups and downs but I felt it was too short of a game to stay in my Xbox 360 for too long. While I do enjoy the online co-op as well as the creativity and open-ended style a game like this brings to the table, I felt that there could have been more substance to keep the title afloat. Well, it did come with the Halo 3 Beta, that will hopefully use up the extra time I wasn't able to enjoy with this title.

What did you think of Crackdown? Is it just a lame GTA clone or is RealTime Worlds onto something with their superhuman free-roam game? Post a comment.


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Friday, February 23, 2007

Civil War #7 Review (Spoilers)

How will the Marvel's superstar creative team wrap up this controversial year-long event?

I flipped open the cover of Civil War issue seven with extreme anticipation. The controversial series which saw Spider-Man publicly unmask, the Fantastic Four break-up, and Goliath die was finally coming to a close and I was pumped to see how writer Mark Millar would wrap it up. Unfortunately, by the time I had flipped to the last page I was filled with disappointment. Not because the issue wasn't up to par, it is, but because the conclusion didn't match the scale of all the other events in the Marvel Universe during Civil War.

What bothered me about this issue is that Marvel has been hyping up the conclusion to Civil War for so long that everyone was expecting something big. Whether it was the death of Captain America, the destruction of S.H.I.E.L.D., or something completely out of left field; comic fans were expecting something huge to go down. Unfortunately this wasn't the case. After a few pages of heated battle we see Captain America surrender, along with most of the Secret Avengers, and Iron Man's side take victory. There weren't any notable deaths, plot twists, or significant moments, just a disappointing conclusion to what had been a great storyline thus far.

What also bothered me is that this issue doesn't wrap everything up. A handful of the Secret Avengers are still in hiding, there's no mention of what happened to the villainous Thunderbolts, and although we're shown a panel of Cap in prison, it's not clear what his fate will be. Now, I'm glad they left a bit of the storyline open for conclusion later on in the Marvel Universe, but I think Millar left the story too open for my liking. I also didn't like how the issue quickly jumped from the end of battle to a few months later with such a quick transition. I felt it should have been dragged out a bit longer.

Steve McNiven's art is top notch as usual in this issue and he does a great job capturing the emotions of the heroes (and villains) in such a exhausting battle. I can't wait to see what's next for McNiven after Civil War as I'm sure it'll be excellent as well.

While I wasn't a huge fan of the conclusion to Civil War but I did enjoy the comic run as a whole. Although it seemed as if every Marvel book on the shelves had something to do with the event, they were able to keep the story moving for readers who didn't buy any of the tie-ins as well as those who sought out them all.

Have you read the last issue of Civil War? What did you think? What did you think about the entire series? Was it worth shaking up so much of the Marvel Universe? Post a comment, let me know.


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