Tag Archives: Crackdown

Remember Me teaches us to never forget the painful memories

remember me game final thoughts

If I had actually played Remember Me in 2013 and not dragged my feet to getting around to it, this heartbreaking tale of mind and memory most likely would’ve made my list of my five favorite games for the year, knocking out Doritos Crash Course 2. Yes, in spite of its shortcomings, of which there are several, it’s still that good, and I urge anyone reading this that has even the slightest interest in checking out Dontnod Entertainment’s debut to bite the bullet and do it. There most likely won’t be a sequel, and there might come a time when you won’t, ironically, even remember this came out.

I covered a lot of Remember Me in my last post, which saw me just entering the game’s fourth chapter. Also known as the halfway point for this roughly seven-hour journey. The second half of the game is still formulaic, more of the same platforming, punching, and pondering, but with tougher group and boss fights, as well as hard-cutting plot twists, one of which actually honestly caught me by surprise. No, really. I leaned forward and muttered, “No way.” You got me, game. Some later beats I saw coming, but not in execution, so that continued to keep me on my toes, because in a world where anything and everything is malleable, even hopes and dreams and memories, nothing can be expected.

Remember Me‘s premise is so dang good, and I’m not just saying that because I love movies like Inception and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, short fiction by Philip K. Dick, and, of course, George Orwell’s 1984, where playing with one’s mind is the key to making things work. At least for a time. It’s perhaps not as byzantine as those previous mentions, but it still packs a punch, holds power, and proves poignant, especially when talking about how personal pain can result in far-reaching consequences for the ones we love, even entire cultures. It’s certainly a cinematic adventure, but it’s handled quite seriously and personally, unfolding at a great clip with enough interaction peppered throughout to not slip into Metal Gear Solid 2 territory, where you only watch things happen as a passive player.

Something I neglected to comment on in my previous Remember Me post is that it features a fantastically strange soundtrack by Oliver Deriviere. Every time I’d scroll past Remember Me on my list of PlayStation Plus games, I’d get a one-second tease at the futuristic tunes that back up all those glowing signs, futuristic buildings, drones, and chaotic fights. It’s an orchestral and electronica mix, spiced with a number of glitches and synthesizer bleeps, which creates rather appropriate cyberpunk music. You might not ever notice when a song starts, but once it begins to amp up, it’s all you’ll hear, and it is used to great effect, especially during boss fights and the last chunk of the game.

Sadly, I will say that I felt no desire to search for the collectibles in Remember Me, unlike the feelings I got for Agility Orbs in Crackdown and shards in inFAMOUS 2. I finished the game with over half of the Scaramechs found, which are the parasites feeding on ambient memories in each level, generally located by the static-like sounds they emit; when you shoot them down, you get a slight PMP bonus. The most straightforward collectibles are the Mnesis memories, which are found in the environment. SAT and Focus pick-ups expand your health and energy after you collect enough of them. I don’t remember how much health Nilin had by the end, but she definitely only had two pips of Focus, so I missed a bunch, but again didn’t really feel driven to snuff every single one out. Plus, with the health-restoring combo attacks, you can get by on very little.

Again, Remember Me is a game you should play. It’s a smart, confident sci-fi adventure that’ll most likely take you ten to eleven hours on the middle difficulty level, with enough combat customization to keep things interesting and challenging, though there really isn’t any point to replaying it a second time, unless you missed some Trophies and collectibles. All the events will play out the same regardless, but man, what a series of events, lead by Nilin, a strong female protagonist capable of doing her own dirty work, and only sexualized in a few shots where the camera angle lingers a bit too long on her lower backside. She stands tall next to heroines like Jade from Beyond Good & Evil and Konoko from Oni. She, and her tragic tale of learning who she is and how she ultimately became Nilin, the Memory Hunter, is unarguably worth remembering.

Crackdown was goofy fun, but instilled fear to protect the populace


Crackdown has an uninspired story, dated graphics, wonky controls, and yet remains a decent blast to play some seven years thanks to its open-endedness and the freedom it gives the player to do whatever they want, in whatever order is desired. It’s been a great game for picking up and playing a little bit, and then putting down for a few months while other more narrative-driven videogames demand my time. Recently, I put my nose to the grindstone and took out gang leader after gang leader, eventually wiping Pacific City clean of baddies. No, really–the entire post-game map seems to be void of anyone to punch, shoot, or blow up, which kind of throws a wrench into my progress for a few desirable Achievements.

Again, there’s very little story here, except to say that you’re a supercop working for the Agency who can grow in strength over time by punching, shooting, exploding, and driving just right. Meaning, no going all Grand Theft Auto III and killing an entire street’s worth of civilians, as that’ll actually take away from your level up progression. You are tasked with taking out racist-themed gang leaders and their subsequent goons, and that’s all the story you get for 95% of the game–until right after you finish the final fight. Sorry, but I’m going to have to spoil the twist here to prove a point: your commander, y’know, that directions-giving voice in your head, reveals that he was the one to give so much power to these gangs, to make the populace fear them and be grateful for when the Agency came sweeping through to save the day. It’s not far off from Syndrome’s plan in The Incredibles, and the twist comes out of nowhere and immediately fails because there’s no substantial story actually backing it up. You spend the whole game killing gang leaders, and the ending still would have fallen flat if your commander simply congratulated you and shot fireworks into the night sky.

Crackdown is basically a mix of shooting and platforming, and neither of the two felt stupendous throughout my entire playthrough. Certainly, the jumping is more fun and tighter than the shooting, which gave me a lot of trouble, especially when I was trying to target a different armed enemy, but it kept locking on the one closest to me. That said, jumping from building roof to building roof, even with upgrades to increase the height and length of a leap, still proved a gamble, and I found myself falling to the boring streets below quite often. When you can nail a string of rooftop jumps, it does feel pretty awesome and superhero-like. Overall, the shooting never felt effective, as if you were blasting walking bags of sand until, eventually, they fell down.

There are a few side activities to occupy your time while you move between gang leaders, and they are as so: Agility Orbs, Hidden Orbs, Street Races, Rooftop Races, and Stunt Jumps. Let’s get this out of the way first; I did maybe one or two Street Races/Stunt Jumps and immediately decided to never do them again. Since the driving in the game is so arcade-y and unpredictable, these two activities proved more trouble than fun. As for Rooftop Races, they can be a good time so long as you are upgraded enough to leap here and there. I ended up doing one that brought the Agent all the way back to HQ, but couldn’t finish the race because it was asking me to climb to the tippy-top. Boo and grrr.

Now, for a lot of players, Crackdown is Agility Orbs. These are green glowing balls of light, often on roofs, which you can collect. There are…500 in total. When you get a certain amount, your jumping skills increase, so they are a collectible worth going after, but be prepared, as there are 500 in total, and they do not appear on your map. You gotta keep your eyes and ears open for ’em. By the end of the game, I had found 400+. Oh, and there are something like 300 Hidden Orbs–blue balls of light that provide a boost of experience to all of the Agent’s abilities–and I had only grabbed around 75 or so by Crackdown‘s conclusion. I don’t think I’ll be going back to track down anymore despite the collector in me screaming otherwise.

Alas, I can only imagine how much more fun and amazing this was in 2007, but Microsoft gave out a free copy of Crackdown for Gold users only recently, and so I’m playing it in a completely different industry era. Times have changed, controls have changed, and standards are a bit higher. It’s fine, truly, but games like inFamous 2 improved on the formula greatly. Well, I’m glad I got to at least experience it, knowing that a new one is forthcoming. Speaking of that…

Recently, thanks to the E3 news that a new Crackdown is on its way, Jeremy Parish from USGamer put together a retrospective on the original game that is very much worth your time.

Crackdown’s aimlessly emergent leap of faith

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Occasionally, I will pop into Crackdown, kick a few gang members in the gut, leap up like a European tree frog to the top of some buildings, and collect a couple of Agility Orbs. If I get lucky, I’ll also take out a gang leader or unlock another agency supply point, which acts as an ammo-refilling and fast-travel hotspot. Given the size of the map for Pacific City, these waypoints are vital to getting around quickly, in spite of the fact that, eventually, the agent you’re playing as should be able to leap over entire buildings. Until then, it’s a much slower-moving game, and I still find myself uninterested in driving any kind of car because of that, y’know, Doc Brown quote.

By far, the best thing about Crackdown, which came out in 2007 mind you, is that it drops you in its open world and immediately lets you do whatever you want. Sure, there’s some guidance with map icons and your commander giving you directives in your ear, but you can completely choose to ignore all that and go on a gang-related rampage, test your might in some land- and car-based races, or experience the dopamine release that comes with finding an orb that increases your skills at a molasses-like pace until you get enough to upgrade. This sort of “totes on your own” mentality can be good and bad; at first, it’s liberating, not having to worry about running over to start some trivial quest, just bounding from one area to another and seeing what unfolds. However, after some time, it becomes boring, especially now that I’ve collected about half of the Agility Orbs in the game, which just leaves behind an empty husk of a city.

Alas, that’s where I’m at now in Crackdown: a bit bored. When it comes to main missions and, uh, actually playing the game, you’re tasked with taking down three different criminal organizations each operating in a separate region of Pacific City. Each organization has multiple lieutenants and minor bosses that can be erased from digital life in any order. You can also eliminate the organization’s kingpin at any time, though those at the bottom of the ladder drastically lowers the firepower and abilities of the kingpin’s guards. Reaching some of these big bosses requires planning and the navigation of large buildings, so you’re better off waiting until your powers have grown, allowing you to jump higher and dish out more damage. I think at this point I’ve killed maybe three to five lieutenants, certainly no major crime-lords yet, and I don’t even know where I should be focusing my attention. Seems like everywhere I go in Pacific City, some bad guy/girl is up to no good and surrounded by goons with guns all aimed at me. Really, it’s just easier jumping from roof to roof.

Visually, Crackdown is no Saints Row: The Third or Grand Theft Auto V. I mean, how could it be? I ask thee again–how? The year 2007 did what it could, and the focus here was more on tall buildings and a sense of openness, a freedom to go left or right or even very high up. That means that when you’re running around on the streets below, everything is bland. Flat and lifeless. Cars are chunky and blocky, and these bounce off other vehicles like bumper cars at the summer festival, occasionally emitting some smoke. I’ve done only a handful of stunts with cars and don’t expect to do any more as they all handle like garbage, even the much-hyped “Super Car” from the Agency. Civilian life in Pacific City consists of groups of five to six people–most who are clones from other groups of people–walking around and running the second they see the Agent coming their way. But that’s all they do, is walk around, just walk, walk, walk. Strangely, and maybe this is the loner in me speaking, but life is better way up high, where silence lives.

Combat is no step up either. You can throw objects like cars or gas tanks, you can kick with your kicky stick (leg), or you can use one of two carried weapons to pierce flesh with bullets. The left trigger locks on (when it feels like working), and right trigger fires. Alas, the shooting feels light and ineffective, especially when up against bosses that have multiple health bars. It’s akin to shooting a bag of sand, except that bag of sand no longer remains unmoved, it’s also firing back your way. It gets even worse the farther away you are from the target, though the Agent’s shooting skills should advance at some point, so maybe it’ll be easer then. Oh, and you can toss grenades, which explode with the impact of a big fart that could no longer be held in. It’s not great, and my tactic involves shooting a guy until I start to reload and then running into them with a jump kick. Rinse and repeat, as well as run away when you lose too much health.

Like I said, I’m getting bored with Crackdown, so I’ll probably do another round or two of running and jumping around in hopes of nabbing some more Agility Orbs with the hope of stumbling upon a boss and, if the wind is blowing my way, putting him or her in the ground. I’d like to progress a bit more only to see the Agent grow in strength and ability, not because the story is some compelling piece of literature. This is truly the definition of a sandbox title, and I’m just about done playing.

The Half-hour Hitbox: August 2013


I realized the other morning that, over the last couple of weeks or so, I’ve dipped my hairy, Hobbit toes into several videogames that I’ve not yet brought up here on Grinding Down, and by that I mean I’ve played a half hour to an hour‘s amount of these games. Not really long enough to go too in-depth with my zany and oddly driven thoughts, but I want to still share some things with y’all nonetheless. Otherwise, given that I’ll be traveling and away for some upcoming comic conventions over the next several weeks, these could be lost to the void forever if I never return to them. And so, a new monthly feature has been born–the Half-hour Hitbox!

Battleloot Adventure

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This is a game for my Windows 8 phone that I downloaded the day it released, because it was then free. I think it is a dollar or two now. Anyways, it’s a pretty straightforward turn-based RPG, with story and exploration completely stripped away. You control a small group of three characters and move from one combat to another. You can do things like tap a character to gain a better defense bonus when an enemy attacks though I have found it not consistently responsive. The cartoony look is very appealing and detailed, but otherwise it doesn’t stand out as anything I need to play right away. Battleloot Adventure might make for a good time-killer here and there, and nothing more.

Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien


The first Bit.Trip Runner was equal parts mesmorizing and frustrating. I eventually did beat the Odyssey level, but when I returned to the game recently, my progress was not saved (thanks, Steam!), so to continue on I’d have to reconquer the toughest level in World 1. Er, no thanks. Good thing Runner 2 came out when it did, and it has graciously made things easier. Not easy, just easier, with some checkpoints throughout the levels. The music is still amazing, and the level designs fun. I’ve gotten to the second world now, which is based around pirate ships and stuff. I love that you can have the main runner guy “dance” at any time, as well as using the cannon at the end of a perfect run for bonus points. A lot of fun, and I do plan to get back into this one real soon.


Crackdown halfhour

Crackdown was recently given out to Xbox 360 players for free as part of their “Game with Gold” thing, which is their attempt to race along PlayStation Plus. It’s nowhere near close to beating Sony’s program, but whatever–more free games for me to play or not play at all. I also have Assassin’s Creed II and Dead Rising II downloaded, but untouched. A new one drops in two days. Gulp. If there is one thing I really like about Crackdown so far, it’s that you are dropped into its open world nearly immediately, with freedom to go and do whatever you want. Which is mostly cause chaos and collect agility orbs. I’ve done both of those, but not much else so far.

Defense of the Ancients 2


Hmm, I started the tutorial–which you have to get through before you can actually begin playing real games of DOTA 2–but the tutorial is broken up into like 12 different parts because evidently it is a very complicated game, with a lot going on at one time. I did the first tutorial level, and that took like 35 minutes itself. Nothing in this hooked me, and I think I’d rather stick with Torchlight 2, even though it is not a MOBA, it has the same look and feel.

Sleeping Dogs


This is a strange open-world game. You can go off and practice your karaoke skills. Or you can hack security systems and arrest drug-dealers. Or you can hone your hand-to-hand martial art skills. You can also eat food and earn Face and smash bad guys’ faces horrifically into things like dumpsters or car windows. You play an undercover cop, so you dip your toes into multiple storylines, some seedier than others. I like the focus on melee combat in Sleeping Dogs over guns, but I’m not very far into things story-wise.

UNO and Friends


Another free game for my Windows 8 phone! I love UNO. The XBLA version was probably one of the first arcade games I got all the Achievements in and regularly played afterwards. This is a free-to-play version of UNO, so there are some annoying things like only being allowed to play so many matches based on how many bronze tokens you have, as well as the constant in-your-face ads to spend real money, but otherwise it works fine and is great fun. Tara loves watching me play UNO and gets really into it, too.

And I’m sure I’m missing a title or two here from my August gaming times. I play a lot of games, sometimes some for longer than others. We’ll see which ones pop up in the next edition of Half-hour Hitbox!

The Half-hour Hitbox is a new monthly feature for Grinding Down, covering a handful of videogames that I’ve only gotten to play for less than an hour so far. My hopes in doing this is to remind myself that I played a wee bit of these games at one time or another, and I should hop back into them, if I liked that first bite.


I recently downloaded the demo for Crackdown 2 and found myself very confused. No, the demo itself isn’t confusing; in fact, our narrator tells us what to do with a lot of tongue firmly in cheek, and you can either go after the main demo missions or just run around collecting orbs, jumping off buildings, and shooting freaks until the allotted thirty minutes of free gameplay is up. That I can do. Where I’m struggling here is with the game itself: I just don’t get it.

I never really tried the first Crackdown, save for downloading the demo and running through it once or twice. That one is not timed and is basically just an open world to run around and explore. You can throw cars and shoot people and climb buildings. Had a very arcade-like feel to it, and the graphics were certainly that of the first generation of games for the Xbox 360. Good, not great. And overhead, always there, was the implication that you had to make your own fun in Crackdown.

That seemed to carry over with Crackdown 2. I entered the demo and immediately started shooting people. I was told they were bad, and thus they deserved to get shot. Had to secure the area and all that jazz. A big problem here though–and this is mostly because I’m now spoiled by Borderlands where every gun has a different feel and recoil to it–is that firing weapons felt fairly hollow. I had a hard time even telling if I was hitting these dudes, and then there’s the close-quarter-combat, which, if I can be honest here, felt like my agent was punching a department store mannequin. There’s no sense of realism, and I understand that’s a silly thing to expect from a game like Crackdown 2, but without it everything just comes across as goofy and cartoonish. Driving cars, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, even throwing a grenade; I just didn’t like the way it felt. I guess it’s harder to explain, but there’s a deep love and following for Crackdown 2, and I don’t understand why. The demo graphics did not seem to be a big upgrade from the first game, and the sequel’s big twist is the addition of “freaks” at night, also known as zombies.

Why must every game add zombies now (hi, Dead Rising, Dead Space, Left 4 Dead, Left 4 Dead 2, Plants vs. Zombies, and The Zombie Island of Dr. Ned)? They are not the new fun. Try something else. Add…oh, I don’t know…mutated sheep monsters. Anything but more undead!

One interesting thing about the demo is that you can unlocked demo Achievements. Basically, these are the same Achievements in the full retail game, but you can unlock them now, and then they will pop and add to your gamerscore once you buy Crackdown 2. It’s a nice incentive and something I hope other demos will look into trying out. I unlocked two of them, but will never see truly get them as this is most definitely not my kind of game. I’m still have a hard time figuring out why.