Bought by many simply for that sticker on the box, Crackdown was my surprise favourite game of the year. I still remember chuckling at my friend’s taste when he said that he was excited for the game back around the 360 launch and I didn’t even get it when I saw videos. Even that beta didn’t sell me on it since I’d already won a place. It was the demo that did it for me. Sit down to play the game and you just get it.
As of today I probably played 100 hours of Crackdown. The game was, ostensibly, very short; you could burn through all the bosses in a handful of hours. But it was the first sandbox game that got me into the whole sandbox idea. There were multiple difficulties and the chance to do it in a sitting with a friend. Orb hunting (oh, god, the orb hunting) and the best achievements in any game yet. And then they followed it with the genius cheat mode in the downloadable content pack, letting you push the already loose rules to the point of almost breaking the engine. I never found myself short of something to do, even when I’d finished the basic game several times.
There are dedicated platforming games where I haven’t felt as in tune with the abilities of my avatar as I do when I play Crackdown. For all the emphasis on shooting and driving it’s the climbing that’s really masterfully done. When the bosses were vanquished and I was left to search for orbs it was my favourite part of the game. There was just something beautiful about the way that it faded out the background noise and brought up some subtle music when you got to a certain height, and I wasn’t the only one to say that it was the first game to really give a sense of vertigo. Heights don’t worry me, but I found my head spinning a bit when I got to the top of the Agency Tower and dared to look down.
A fantastic game, and as one that’s heavily discounted in the New Year’s sales, one that’s inexcusable not to pick up.