Tag Archives: Jeremy Parish

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.

REVIEW – GameSpite Quarterly 8, the PlayStation Era

The Sony PlayStation was a system that got me through high school and carried its weight during the early college years; it was a system that seemed to be everything anyone could need, with a library certainly bigger than anticipated, and the power to steal hours upon hours away from my life. Many of my favorite titles call home to the 32-bit console that could: Suikoden, Suikoden II, Jumping Flash!, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, and so on. It holds a special part of my soul beneath its silver lid, and that’s me being as honest as possible via a blog post. The dang thing means a lot to my growing up, my dealing with problems and friends and loneliness, and it was also a ton of fun to play, to invest in. I even decked it out with special stickers that came with early issues of PSM, a magazine that I subscribed to for a super long time because I enjoyed reading about my new toy and what it might be handling in the future. It’s been some time since I’ve read anything PlayStation-related in print form, too, which is my way of transitioning to the next paragraph.

The latest issue of GameSpite Quarterly, a simultaneous print and online zine by Jeremy Parish and pals, is all about the PlayStation, making it an instant buy for me, and I’m all the happier for it. The book arrived, and I at first couldn’t tell if I’d ordered, y’know, a book or…a brick. At around 435 pages, this is actually a tome, and there’s plenty of content to absorb, which is what I did over several days. It’s got that potpourri feel to it thanks to numerous authors writing varying articles about strikingly different titles and subjects. In the span of a few pages, GS8 goes from talking about how “mature” Sony got with its advertising to coverage of retro games like The Raiden Project and Final Fantasy Anthology. Content flows in a loose chronological order by game release dates, but at times feels a bit of a mish-mash effort; I’d have preferred a section devoted to game reviews and another to musings and features, but that’s just little ol’ me and my need for everything to be ordered and grouped and properly connected.

As previously mentioned, the library for the Sony PlayStation is huge, and it’s no surprise that not every game gets covered in GS8. I’m sure many frog fans are going to be saddened to learn that there are zero words devoted to Frogger 3D and Frogger II: Swampy’s Revenge. And some titles that I actually wanted to read about deeply, such as Star Ocean: The Second Story, Metal Gear Solid, and Chrono Cross, were only given a single paragraph of love. Disappointing, sure. Blockbusters like Final Fantasy VII and Tomb Raider get the expected amount of coverage, and I particularly found myself immersed in Tomm Hulett’s “The 7 Deadly Sins of Xenogears,” a religiously in-depth analytical look at a game I never got to play. For the most part, the majority of the games covered get a small amount of text to go along with a huge, pixelated screenshot. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t (Baby Universe).

Not surprisingly, Parish’s love for quirky and less-loved titles takes the limelight here, with games like The Misadventures of Tron Bonne receiving eight pages of praise. Missed out on that game way-back-when, but it sounds pretty neat and has me only more excited for the forthcoming Mega Man Legends 3. My only other complaints are minor, but a second round of copyediting would have done wonders; as I read, I spotted a number of typos, as well as a lot of inconsistencies (if you’re devoting an entire issue to the PlayStation, you should stick to one spelling of it only). Otherwise, GS8 is so full of content and pages to flip through that the good outweighs the disappointing, and even though the entire book will make its way online over at GameSpite eventually, the printed form is still worth pursuing. Seeing that much content bundled and bound is impressive, and if you were at all a fan of the PlayStation it’s a no-brainer buy. Cracking GS8‘s spine is the easiest way to time-travel back to the good ol’ days of 3D polygons, memory cards, and games built around FMVs.