We’ve got a problem. It’s been awhile since we’ve played any new GTA games and we still got several months to go until GTA 4 hits retail. And it just so happens; Crackdown is the prefect solution to this problem… somewhat.

Crackdown may not be the best thing since San Andreas, but I’m sure after sitting down with it for a few hours, you’ll find yourself coming back to it for more. In a nutshell, Crackdown is in someway, the opposite of the GTA games. In GTA you are the criminal running around the city causing chaos and death. In Crackdown you are the law, hunting down the three most notorious gangs in Pacific City, a semi futuristic city built on the ocean.

And yes, you can climb to the top if you're skilled enough.

There’s an organization called The Agency that takes care of the law enforcement of the city, which is now getting out of control with the three gangs slowly taking control. You play as a genetically enhanced super human created and trained by The Agency, to hunt down and kill all lawbreakers. In order to successfully defeat all three gangs, you must first take out the kingpin… but to do that you must kill their generals working under them. Each of the gang generals controls key parts to the gangs operation. Some handle recruitment, some handle weapons others handle member physical training. When each general is taken out, the section that they were in control of falls apart and weakens the performance of the gang. Keep that up and your chances of taking on the kingpin and his protectors increases.

Well that’s the basics of the game; there are no long complex stories or character development. You basically ride around town until you receive information broadcasts about a gang member that you have to kill; their location shows up on the map and you head to it. Simple and straightforward gameplay you’ll have the whole game conquered by the end of the week, sadly. Because of that, I recommend playing the game on a higher difficulty setting, for the sole fact you can finish the game in a week on “tough” mode…

If you played other GTA games, you already have a good idea on how to play the game right at the start. You’re in a large city, you can go anywhere at any time, drive any car you want, jump in the water in swim, jump from rooftop to rooftop as if you’re in The Matrix… wait, what the hell? You’re a super human in this game, so some of the realism rules get thrown out the window. You can jump to insanely high heights, and if you’re really good you can hang onto window cells and use them to push your way up top of the highest apartment buildings and then later huge skyscrapers. Jumping from one rooftop to a next is quite possibly one of the most fun aspects of this game. Until you over or under shoot your jump and come crashing down to your death, on the streets below, actually that’s kind of fun to watch as well. But nothing beats, tossing a grenade into a group on gang members hanging out on the rooftops. The explosions followed by flaming bodies flying up into the air spiraling out of control and then landing in the streets below, will make you laugh pretty hard. This game is clearly the winner of the use of the rag doll effect; dead bodies fly through the air real nice.

It's crime fighting time!

But what truly separates this from GTA are the use of skills. In Crackdown there are five main skills your character can level up as you play. Driving, Firearms, Explosives, Agility and Strength. Each skill has a different means for leveling up, for example, if you perform lots of stunts in a car or kill criminals by running them over, you skill up Driving. Getting agility orbs, which are often located on rooftops, will increase your skill in that department. There are also various driving and rooftop races, which will increase your skill. When you do skill up, naturally your character will become better. More Agility means you run faster and jump higher, more firearm skill increases your accuracy, and so on. The down side to this however, is if you are going to skill up by killing criminals, make sure you do just that… kill them. If you accidentally hit civilians, you lose skill. Interesting way on preventing this game from becoming another “hey lets kill everyone and forget about the missions,” as we tend to do in GTA games. But in the end, gaining new skills is as challenging as it is fun. It's always fun to turn around and play with them to see what your character is now capable of.

The scale of the city is huge, and there is next to no load times when you travel from one district to the next. Every building and street is detailed very well too, feels like you’re in a real city, especially when you look down from the rooftops.

Despite being short and almost story less, Crackdown is a solid and fun title. I assure you, if you enjoyed GTA you’ll find enough amusement in this to put a nice smile on your face. If not, I still say you should at the very least give it a try, nice selection of weapons, explosions, high-speed chases, all in a huge city, can’t go wrong with that.

BEST FEATURE – Making things blow up real nice

WORST FEATURE – Too short of a game

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