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    Crackdown for Xbox 360

    Microsoft made a smooth move when they included participation in the Halo 3 multiplayer beta a part of Crackdown. No matter how good or bad Crackdown is, it will automatically become a must-have game just for this reason. Luckily, Crackdown is a fun game, so the money is well spent.

    The story of Crackdown is relatively straightforward. There are three powerful, rival gangs that have pretty much divided a capital city. Police organizations of the world have united in the war against these gangs, but have been forced to retreat inside of a fortress known simply as the Keep. Rather than give up and allow the world to descend into anarchy and lawlessness, they create a genetically enhanced agent capable of astounding evolution and superhuman strength and agility- You. You roam about the city shooting up the bad guys, leaping alarming distances, and driving really cool cars at breakneck speed to cause panic in the ranks of criminals throughout the city. By sytematically killing highly placed members of each gang, you strip away power and protection from the leaders making your assignment to kill them all that much easier. The more you do, the faster and stronger you become. Eventually, you will be able to leap over buildings and hurl cars at people. While the story might not be a hundred percent original, it certainly is a welcome change from GTA, and deserves a solid 8 out of 10 for stepping out of the shadow of GTA, even if only for a little while.

    Controls in this game are very straightforward for a third person shooter. Right trigger fires your primary weapon, the bumper throws a charge, the A button makes you jump (it's touch sensitive, so holding it maxes out the jump), the X button switches out guns, and the analog sticks aim and move the character like pretty much any shooting game. You take guns from fallen criminals and store them at supply houses you recapture all over the city to be able to re-acquire them at any other supply point. There are also a lot of other vehicles to drive until they die; from civilian trucks, muscle cars, and Agency-issued vehicles with suped-up engines, you can use any mode of transportation you find to quickly get into the fight anywhere. While a little on the short side, the game offers co-op gameplay, online co-op, and time trial modes that allow you to time how long it takes to take out a kingpin to ensure the game is replayable. For giving you plenty of gameplay options and keeping the control scheme relatively simple, the game deserves a high 8.5.

    Crackdown is a very unique game in the graphics department. All dividing lines are very thick, and the game is designed to look very much like a graphic novel. At first glance, it may look cell shaded, but once you get into the game, you realize that it's more than just that. The game is just impressive when you see it. Imagine a very graphically detailed Spiderman game, and you will be thinking of something similar to this game. There just isn't anything quite like it to compare. While it might not win any prestigious awards for the graphical development, it definitely deserves a solid 8 for making a game that looks different than every other game on the shelf.

    There are so many different sounds in Crackdown- explosives toning a charge, guns firing, cars screeching, cars launching as projectiles into a building, civilians screaming, engines roaring, and so much more. One sound, however, stood out for me: the sound of the stereo playing in a car when you take it from someone else. That's right, steal a car and a different song seems to playing in each one. It may seem like an odd feature to include, but it's one of those things that just makes it insanely fun to hop from a sports car to hijack a minivan just to see what housewives are listening to in this game. Just for having a solid soundtrack all its own with maniacally fun sound effects, the game gets a strong 9.

    The official verdict? Crackdown would have been worth having even without the Halo 3 multiplayer beta invitation. If any game can carry the honor of filling the empty hours between now and this fall's release of Halo 3, it is this amazing game. With near endless possibilities at your disposal and more than enough wanton destruction to sate even the most sadistic gamer out there, this game is a strong 8.5 even factoring in the relatively short main story.

    Written by MT

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