Publishers can be crafty devils. They’ll do anything to make us poor downtrodden reviewers try any old game. A classic trick is to bundle potentially rubbish titles with early versions of guaranteed best sellers, so when Crackdown arrived sellotaped to the side of the Halo 3 multiplayer beta we weren’t expecting much.
Worse, it’s yet another Grand Theft Auto clone. Like Rockstar’s classic series, you can go anywhere, do anything, shoot, brawl and explore. It’s a risky tactic, especially considering the all round greatness of GTA San Andreas and worthy contenders such as Saints Row.
Still, reviewing is what we’re paid to do. So let’s strap on our armour, grab a handy grenade or two and find out if it’s any good.
Unlike GTA where you play on the wrong side of the law, Crackdown gives you the role of a futuristic supercop. “Dead or alive, you're coming with me!” and all that.
Unsurprisingly, your big task is to clear the streets of assorted scum and villainy. So nothing new here, but we’re not complaining because the gameplay is a whole lot of fun.
As with GTA, you can amass truckloads of hardcore weaponry and drive around like Schumy in a bad mood. Thing is, Crackdown does it all better than every similar game before it. In addition to blasting hooligans and bosses alike, you’ve got five superpowers that ramp up over time. Want super strength and unrivalled agility? Fine, and there’s no need to eat spinach either.
Crackdown is as close as you’ll get to being a superhero without donning a cape. You can clamber up the side of buildings, jump from rooftop to rooftop and even plummet a hundred metres and survive unscathed. Now which of her majesty’s finest can claim that?
If you need a breather from all this blasting and leaping about, you can wander the gorgeously detailed city streets finding secrets and agility pick ups. There’s races to take part in too and they work better than many a standalone driving title.
It’s easy to look at Crackdown with its cell shaded look and dismiss it out of hand.
Well, you’ll be missing a treat. The city is more often than not a collection of greys, but it’s still one hell of a Metropolis. If you’ve played the epic Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion you’ll have an idea of the scope.
Even from the top of the tallest building you’ll spy ant like people milling about, while in the far distance there’s buildings you can try leaping to if you dare.
Crackdown can be rushed through in a couple of days if you so wish, but it’d be a crime to pile through this little beauty. As the man says in Robocop, we’d buy that for a dollar. Or 30.