Crackdown Hands-On

Realtime Worlds is putting the finishing touches to its free-roaming action game, and we play the latest build for a final hands-on preview.

As the creator of Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto, David Jones is one of the UK's most revered game developers. Crackdown is the first game to be released from Realtime Worlds, the studio he set up in Scotland in 2002. A free-roaming action game in which you play a futuristic law enforcer, Crackdown looks like it's set to take the genre in an interesting new direction. With a little over a month to go until the game hits the shelves, we took delivery of a preview copy to see how it's shaping up.

Crackdown puts you in control of a government agent with incredible agility.

Crackdown is set in Pacific City, a futuristic haven for three gangs called the Los Muertos, the Volks, and the Asian Shai Gens. You play the role of an enforcer of The Agency, a government organisation that's aiming to crack down on these gangs and regain control of the city. Out in the field, you're fed mission briefings about key members of each criminal organisation, and it's your job to take those people out. Thankfully, you're supported by the city's street cops, but you're also able to build up your skills to the point where your abilities are at a superhuman level.

While the Xbox Live options were unavailable in our preview build, the meat of the campaign was present and correct. You're given the choice to play as one of eight different avatars of various races and styles--there's even a Marilyn Manson look-alike thrown in for good measure. Before you start, you're able to change the aggression level of enemies, which range from tough to ruthless to psychotic.

Improving skills is one of the core themes of Crackdown, and as you progress, your character will dramatically advance in capability. A Crackdown agent's five skill areas include explosives, athletics, driving, fighting, and shooting, and you improve by putting them into practice in the field. If you choose to employ hand-to-hand combat instead of explosives and shooting, that area will develop, and you'll be able to land more powerful blows. However, if you want to develop as an all-round agent, you need to employ a mixture of tactics and adapt to each individual situation.

While other games in this genre have offered similar character development strategies, the futuristic setting of Crackdown has let the designers amplify these skills in a completely unrealistic way. As you run around the world and collect the 500 agility orbs, your character will start being able to perform moves that free runners can only dream about. After a few hours of play, you should be able to jump three to four times your own height, and as you continue to build up agility, you can even clear small buildings. Your character is also able to hold onto ledges and windowsills, so scaling most buildings in Pacific City is possible right from the off.

While building up agility lets you run away from threats, muscular improvements mean that you can dispatch your enemies in a number of cool ways. For example, if your character runs toward an enemy and performs a roundhouse kick, you'll be able to follow up that move by shooting the bad guy in midair as he flies backward from the initial impact. Most of the objects in the world can be picked up and thrown, although you'll need a certain strength level to pick up the larger objects. It's slightly cumbersome to throw objects in the heat of battle, but we never tired of picking up one gang member and tossing him at another, or ripping off a car door and hurling it into a pack of enemies.

Although the game offers the same freedom as Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row, the dynamic is altered by the fact that this time you're a police officer. Although you can still jack civilian cars, it's your executive position that lets you do so. Support is provided on the streets by regular cops, but if you kill too many police officers or civilians, your department will order the cops to take you down. As an agent, you're given access to the regular assortment of pistols, machine guns, submachine guns, and shotguns, as well as grenades and sticky bombs. There are also enemy weapons that can be collected in the field, and if you take them to one of the Agency arms centres dotted around the city, they'll be made available to you permanently.

Being a police officer has other advantages, too, such as the cool selection of vehicles available to you from the beginning. Whenever you start the game or are killed, you can spawn at your headquarters and select from a choice of three vehicles, each with different attributes. The Agency Supercar is fast and light and will overturn vehicles if you ram them. The SUV is slightly slower but can negotiate obstacles, while the heavily armoured Truck Cab can drive through other vehicles, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

While it's fun to drive around the city and perform your assassination missions, our preview version of Crackdown lacked any real narrative to accompany this action. A serious-sounding voice from Agency HQ lets you know about street races and enemy bases in your proximity, but there was little in the way of explanation about the main character or the agency itself. Instead, information about key gang members is sent to your portable computer, with videos and biographical information explaining their relevance to the three gangs.

The co-op mode lets you clean the streets of Pacific City with a friend over Xbox Live.

We were also able to see the game's 80 achievements in this preview build, although none of them seemed to relate to finishing the main game. Instead, you're awarded the coveted points for completing stunts and races, as well as levelling up your various skill sets. Arguably, one of the main attractions is that the game can be played cooperatively, both locally and over Xbox Live, letting you team up with another agent to clean up the streets of Pacific City. Crackdown is one of the first games of its kind to offer this feature, and with cooperative play proving so popular in games such as Gears of War and Rainbow Six Vegas, we hope that it provides the same draw here. The final mode is time trial, in which you can take on any of the 21 gang leaders that you've killed in the main game against the clock. Again, though, there don't seem to be any achievements linked to completing this mode.

While the futuristic setting is a welcome change for a free-roaming action game, Crackdown seems to be particularly po-faced and possesses none of the humour of the Grand Theft Auto series. There are no cheesy radio DJs or satirical advertisements to be heard on the car radios, for example. Having said that, there are 105 different music tracks covering Latin, rock, and dance genres, and of course you can use custom soundtracks as well. If you listen closely, the din of Pacific City is punctuated by characters talking to each other in imaginative or expletive-laden ways. Hang around at your headquarters and you'll hear officers talk about agents in hushed tones, telling stories about how they can leap buildings.

As for graphics, much has been made of the comic-book style that features thick, black borders and vibrant colours. In practise, it's both an aesthetic and technical treat, as the game suffers absolutely no slowdown at this stage. Crucially, the driving model means that it's fun to just cruise around and take in the city, while you can also compete in both vehicle and foot races to split up the assassination missions.

While the structure of Crackdown looks to be a little disparate at times, there's no doubt that the game offers a suitably different experience from the other games in its genre, and it's great fun to play. The sci-fi setting has let Realtime Worlds create a great playground in the form of Pacific City, with a main character that can take advantage of it in terms of agility and strength. With just over a month until the game is released, we're excited to see whether it's a place we'll end up visiting again and again.

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133 comments
pdo4545
pdo4545

I see comercials on this game i think it dosnt look good.

KageNinja136
KageNinja136

This is gonna be the first game I get when I get my 360... LOOKS AWESOME!!!

kevinshevin
kevinshevin

I need someones opinion!!!!! Shud I get elder scrolls oblivion or this? PLZ HELP!!!!!! TY

NND1
NND1

This game lookz and seemz friggin' sweet ... I need this in my collection next to saints row

mat2_57
mat2_57

man the demo rocks.. man.. dis game is way better than all the free roam cop version...like true crime... hope d game itself will live fully expected as the demo is....

Nexov
Nexov

The demo rocks. I didn't think i was going to get it, but after playing the demo for about 2hours i just have to get it. The progressive skill feature is awesome. Gonna pre-order this tonight. And what's even better - you get a Halo3 beta! Though, i wish i could kill those civilians - they're just mocking me!

shawnd0517
shawnd0517

The first time I played the demo, as soon as I entered the game, my gun wouldn't stop firing, literally. Also, the brakes and reverse gear in the cars didn't work. I was immediatly pissed off, but later realized it was just my controller screwing up. I played the demo again with another controller, and that is the BEST demo I've ever played. It's a great combination of GTA/Saint's Row and Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. Upgrading my agility was one of the most fun parts, finally being able to jump 20 feet in the air off the ground. The graphics have a really sleek, cell-shaded look, and it's quit a fit for the comic-style gameplay. Any concerns I've had over pre-ordering this game are now laid to rest. I'm definitely going to be investing the $60 next month to get this, with the Halo 3 beta as icing on the already wedding-sized cake. I'm only hoping that they tweak the targeting system (it's very clunky and choppy), and that you can play co-op on one system. Online will be cool, but being able to go ape sh*t on the entire city while drinking with my best buds would be a hell of a way to spend a weekend!

freerunner01
freerunner01

I loved teh demo adn gonna get this game for the simple fact that its just fun to do whatever teh hell you want. A nice addition to my 360 game library

Malow-x
Malow-x

People are dumb. This game is pretty sick. Just a demo not the full thing yet. Im sure the full thing will be bad ass. Dont freak out. Seriously its a damn demo and the demo kicks ass. Besides bioshock is where its at. Cant wait for that ****

Comorat
Comorat

I think what people are failing to understand here is that it's a DEMO. A DEMO people, D-E-M-O. Not full version, not retail version, not the same version you're going to get when you drop 62 bucks and get handed a pretty plastic case with shrink wrap on it. Not enough to do? No kidding?!? Limited play time and accessibility? Get the heck right on out of town! You're kidding! Next thing you'll be telling me is that there's a limited amount of time you can play the demo version and that makes it so you can't complete the entire game before it even comes out or that it seemed your character advanced to super-human levels really fast! *shock* All sarcasm aside the demo plays very nice. I'm not a huge fan of cell-shade graphics but the style used here is very fitting. Hell your guy acts like a comic book hero, why not make him look like one too? Plus the more simple graphics allows for better frame rates when you start to rack up huge chain explosions...and let me tell you I got some HUGE chains of explosions! Burning bodies, parts of cars, flying garbage trucks...oh yeah, good stuff! The weapon selection is nice but I'm hoping the full version has some sort of on-the-fly weapon switching you can do...if there is one in the demo I missed it. That aside, the concept of grabbing the weapons off dead baddies and storing them for later access ROCKS. I LOVE stuff like that. Though the whole "capture a storage point and be able to warp between them" thing is a tad lame. Though I'm sure it'll come in more than slightly handy when you have to get across the city in a hurry and don't want to drive or run (or jump from roof to roof) to get there. Didn't have a real problem with the lock on feature but I would prefer more options in the way of zoom-fire. I want to site in and pop heads no matter what weapon I'm using. Driving, meh.....a pain at first. Cars are clunky and handle like bricks at first with overall handling varying from car to car. But the whole concept of becoming a better driver by running over bad guys is beautiful. If I want to test my "driving skills" I'll go play PGR3 or something. This game is about whacking baddies and that's what it centers around...and I LIKE it :) Overall I'm excited about it. There's not many games I can get fired up about these days and even fewer that turn out to be a royal disappointment. I'm not having any doubts that this game will turn out to be the action filled time waster I hope it will. And worse comes to worse I can hook up with a buddy and we can run around killing ourselves all afternoon. Cool!

termadoyle
termadoyle

I dunno. What was the name of that last-gen Hulk game? "Total Destruction"? You could destroy buildings, leap a thousand feet, throw cars and tanks and everything else but I found it to become boring in a few days of play. Hope this game has a ton more to offer.

PaulieisSmallie
PaulieisSmallie

I got the demo....and now ive stopped playing all other games....just to play the demo :)

ps3weee
ps3weee

I really wish that this game will turn out to be awsome, but after playing the demo for a while, i doubt. The game is fun to play... in the begging, But there are no " real " missions, like in gta "- destroy this car becouse of this" ... instead you just kill gangleaders in similar ways , jump buildings , kill protectors , kill leaders.. I want missions !!! , like , " chase this car and kill the driver " for example. If the whole game is based on just killing gangleaders in same way and jumping on buildings to find agility orbs , i dont think that can make a good game... Also , fix the lock on system and give uss some more viewpoints when driving the car , make the mele battles more advanced , maybe give uss some more caracther costumization options , also the city seems to small imo... the game had potential but i think that they could made it so mutch better if spending some more time with it ... This is my opinions after playing the demo touh, cant tell how the the real game will turn out ,,, but great demo , enyojed it for a cupple of hours. and i think the final score will be low AA

alayeesquire
alayeesquire

Played the demo and liked the straightforward gameplay. It's not GTA but it is still fun especially playing co-op. After playing co-op a few times, I'd almost get for that alone. I'm still not 100% on the game yet mainly because of little things like the horrible targeting system and simplistic hand-to-hand fighting. However, if I read that those issues are addressed in the final product (seeing as how this is an unfinished demo), I'll definitely pick it up.

dQuarters
dQuarters

Looking very forward to next month's release. It could come with a full version of Halo 3, and Halo would be gathering dust while I play this for months. I can't even pull myself away from this half-hour demo (I level up my driving skills pretty quick :) ). It's like Grand Theft Auto with cheatcodes active and functional (and with better everything to boot). I've been calling it a mashed up version of streets of rage/oblivion/Persuit Force. It's gonna rock. And co-op is just too fun to describe. I'm not sure if my bud and I did anything for that hour, but damn we laughed like idiots. If you haven't downloaded this, give it a shot. I can't picture the gamer this would dissapoint. It's not the best thing ever, but it's undeniably a riot. Do it!

dmastor
dmastor

HOLD ON, CARS TRANSFORM? what the .......... now i need this game this game came out of nowhere this was not on my list as most have until i played the demo, but i hope it's not that easy to upgrade on the full version also i hope my upgraded guy is on xbox live as well can't wait!

Snk211
Snk211

Yeah well and that it was fun when I was playing the demo and I was like how do you get the cars to transform? I was watching some videos on gametrailers about Crackdown. So I was like maybe driving skill had something to do with it so I maxed it out and hopped into the Supercar and bam it was awesome! I love to watch it transform.... It is pretty cool! Anyone else thought that made the game just that more interesting?

KanesSon
KanesSon

i played the demo it kicked serious ass!!!!!

makemeweak
makemeweak

This sounds sooo much better than GTA.

atomicrooster1
atomicrooster1

This game is possibly THE most fun game I have ever played, not the most realistic or graphically groundbreaking but straight out balls to the wall fun. I have a new favourite game. Oh yeah and even though it's off topic, MGS4 probably isn't even going to be ps3 exclusive, mgs2 AND 3 came out on XBOX eventually anyway, MS realise that ps2 effectively won over XBOX because of the huge variety of games and as you can see this time they're not letting that happen (GTA release same date, assassin's creed jumps boat etc)

sin-city_savior
sin-city_savior

lol...i love how brannigancarter still thinks gta is a ps3 exclusive..moron :D the ps3's franchises are kingdom hearts/final fantasy, and metal gear solid you crazy crazy fool

BigDaveyDogz
BigDaveyDogz

I'll never understand that when games use the "cell shading" method of graphics people scream about how the graphics suck. I think they make any game look more vibrant and visual. Somewhere along the line people forgot about 16bit graphics and now everything has to look as real as possible. give it a rest and have a nice dose of "Crack"

FarCry194
FarCry194

It sucks that my college campus doesn't allow me to connect to xbox live, 'cause I want to play this demo, but I already ordered the game online, and the demo sounds awesome. I'm looking foward to it!

Hoopin4thelove
Hoopin4thelove

ive been slacking on my 360 lately (work,girlfriend, basketball, bars, clubs) you know what im saying but i will be getting this tonight sounds like an amazing game. has anyone noticed that ms studios consist of nothing but awsome game studios? i think that would explain why we keep seeing awsome games from msgaming studio

dmastor
dmastor

oh, my , gosh, this demo is great it's so fast pace i love it and my robocop get upgraded i can jump around everywhere i'm am so excited about this game the demo is great. Games like this make me Love the 360 i am almost speechless everyone most play this demo also buy a 360 people come on what is wrong with ya'll.

Wezker619
Wezker619

the demo is like a enhanced version of Saints Row but this time you play as Police Officer similar to robo-cop!

MatrixSpidey92
MatrixSpidey92

YAY!!!!!! It will be good, oh yes probably excellent...!!!! :)

wrestler32
wrestler32

i cant wait to get this game it sounds so awesome!

Zanthrus
Zanthrus

This Game sounds awesome! And with the Halo 3 preview thing, I'm gettin it!

ll_jun10r_ll
ll_jun10r_ll

you know how many people are gonna wait the night before for this game, take it home and not play it :)

Jaywalker9876
Jaywalker9876

dont want to start a flame here but maybe all they meant was that the character actually looked a lot like marilyn manson not just a random "pale skinned figure"

LessThanMike
LessThanMike

I just want my demo, thats all....i just want my demo

Euanp
Euanp

lookin forward 2 this

Famished_Corpse
Famished_Corpse

puppyknuckles goth, thomeone'th thenthitive No, I'm not sensitive, just tired of ignorance and stupidity of people. Some fine examples: Pale skin- "OMG Marilyn Manson!" Piercings- "OMG Satanist!" All black attire- "OMG Depressed!" Yes, yes, I know, ignorance and stupidity will always plague the human race, but that doesn't mean I can't act in a violent manner upon it (subtleties went out the window ages ago). Seabread, the developers would fall into the same category of ignorance if they're proclaiming that their "pale skinned character is influenced by Marilyn Manson"...pale skin was quite obviously around long before him...ugh, when will people realize he wasn't as much of a pioneer as they like to think he is. Just as a note, no, I do not support the stereotype of "goth" or any of that ****. An intelligent person would realize Gothic is a style of architecture. And yes, I'm a ranting *******. More Stable for Topic: Anyways, I'm looking forward to playing this game...that is if it doesn't get pushed back again.

termadoyle
termadoyle

looks like a good game but I'm worried about the game being too Non-linear for its own good. like the GTA series, I was always looking for something useful to do not just run around in a virtual city. I guess I'm more into linear mission-based games because GTA has never appealed to me.

Jermwarfare
Jermwarfare

branningan-GTA is coming out for the 360.

wenbin09
wenbin09

it looks like a good preview!! I just hope we can get the demo soon enough..

brannigancarter
brannigancarter

blah freakin blah, you people have no sense of video gaming...doesn't matter if it's PS3 or 360, EACH console is ALWAYS going to have one game that's ONLY on THAT console that stands above the rest. For Xbox, it's Halo and Gears of War, for PS3, it'll be GTA and Metal Gear Solid, like it always has. Just get both consoles and quit your complaining. And Crackdown is gonna be great, whether you like it or not, although I still don't think it'll beat GTA...nothing ever has.

Vodoo
Vodoo

Some people are still pissed they bought a PS3 and not a 360.

heyheydoh
heyheydoh

Looks like a very good game, alot better then GTA or Saints row, but I still like those 2.

FreedomReign
FreedomReign

This is ridiculous. I've read complaints about, graphics, gameplay, and mission structure.. all of which I would like to point out can't be judged until a final version... or at least a demo is released. A lot of the posts below are pure speculation, heresay, and fabrication. To all the 360, Halo, GeOW, etc. haters... give it a rest. Do you have to drag your bad attitude into every nook and cranny of this site? How is it different from GTA and Saint's Row? Well can you survive a 200 foot drop in either of those games? Can you throw vehicles, and run faster than any of the cars on the road? Can you leap tall buildings in a single jump? That's gameplay. Can you see from one end of the map to the other? Can you spot a car on the road from the top of the highest building in the city? Do objects stay on screen to the horizon? That's the graphics. Can you team up with a buddy, and rain death down upon the various gangs of San Andreas, or Stillwater? Do you work along side the police to rid the city of its king pins by strategically severing the gangs supply routes? That's the mission Structure. The truth is Crackdown looks to deliver a true Superhero sandbox game, ala Spiderman 2, or Hulk, without the annoying tacked on story from the movie, and Co-Op gameplay. The GTA stuff is all that was added to the Superhero game formula, mix it all up in probably the most impressive World in Videogame history... and well.

NND1
NND1

I am glad I chose 360!

jsratm
jsratm

ign has some nice crackdown vids if you want to check out a more detailed video preview of the game.

darren
darren

Folks I have to say that our UK man has got this game wrong. To be honest I think he is playing a very old build as the thick lines are long gone - just take a look at recent screenshots. Either that or I question how much he played. Graphically this is an amazing technical accomplishment. I always forgave GTA's look in favor of its amazing world but crackdown is truly like a grahic novel world come to life, not to mention realtime vehicle morphing that never gets old. I have been playing the game cooperatively all week and there is a good reason it is called "crack" down. I have not been able to pull myself away from it. Once you get into the world it is totally immersive. I have played all the gta's and althought there are obvious comparisons it truly is a different experience. Dave Jones clearly has created a work of passion because I have never seen such a fleshed out, rich, living 3d world in any video game to date. The best way I can explain it is that he took the greatness of mario (yes I said mario) in the form of great platforming scenarios (vertical and horizontal) and collection, took the vast seemless world/car jacking of GTA, the destruction of mercenaries, and the addictive (hence the word "crack") RPG style levelling up systems- and somehow rolled it up into one cohesive package. I have not enjoyed a game this much in a long time. This is the first great game of 07. Just play the demo (when it finally hits) and join my addiction.

SpazH3d
SpazH3d

Only a month left, man i cant wait! But 80 achievements? According to xbox360achievements.com theres only 43 with a total of 900 points.... who is lying/telling the truth?