I sat down with Microsoft's new "GTA"-inspired game, "Crackdown," (Feb. 20) for about forty-five minutes yesterday and although I'm impressed, I'm not wowed. Currently, you can download the free demo from Xbox Live Marketplace.
The game is a highly stylized (think graphic novel or cel-shaded) open urban landscape. Set in the future, you play as a genetically enhanced super-cop whose abilities are purposely over-the-top. For example, as your skills increase, you'll be able to leap over tall buildings or target specific areas on an enemy's body.
Since you're playing as a cop, you're actually on the side of the law, and it's your job to curtail the violence of three rival gangs who are taking over Pacific City. Like GTA, you can carjack any vehicle, or, more appropriately, commandeer the vehicle in the name of the law. You can also shoot just about anyone, however, if you run over or shoot too many civilians or fellow cops, the cops will come after you.
From what I could tell from the demo, gameplay is very similar to all of the other games in this genre, be it "GTA," "Saint's Row," "True Crime," or "Driver." That is, you are tasked with ridding the streets of "x" enemy. You hop into a car and drive to the location marked on your radar. You hop out, kill the dozens of enemies protecting "x" enemy and then take out "x" enemy himself. I'm sure the gameplay is a tad more varied than that, however, that's pretty much what the demo offered.
Of course, you'll also find such side tasks as races and literally hundreds of orbs which help to enhance your skills.
The game itself is highly polished and mechanically sound. The controls are intuitive (if you're used to these types of games) and there are a few new features, like the over-the-top abilities which make for a nice spin on this tired genre.
I think that if you plopped down a gamer who had never touched a "GTA" game (and there are about 7 of them out there) they would be impressed. However, for me, it was just more of the same except I could jump higher and the graphics were prettier.
We'll be getting the game when it debuts to see if it's walkthrough worthy.