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Crackdown

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Pop quiz: What's something that's always been missing from the Xbox lineup? Answer: An original (or at the very least a first-run) chapter in the Grand Theft Auto series. Sure, original Xbox owners got the Double Pack, San Andreas, and some slightly upgraded graphics. But in the end, you couldn't help but feel you were getting sloppy (though prettier) seconds from Sony's bully down the street. And while some of those me-too 'open-world,' gangsta clones may have been reasonable, most of them weren't, and nothing could effectively replicate Rockstar's unstoppable franchise.

With the arrival of Xbox 360, Microsoft is making sure the situation doesn't repeat itself. How does that saying go? "If you can't beat ‘em, take the original designer of that series and make a completely original title that still falls roughly in the same genre." That designer is David Jones, founder of DMA Design, the minds behind the GTA series. His new company's game is Crackdown, a fantastically told tale of agents, criminals and some of that ol' ultra violence that gets us gamers licking our chops with glee.

As a Microsoft-published exclusive to the Xbox 360, Crackdown has a lot riding on it. With its designer's pedigree and a new system to show it has the technical chutzpah to exploit, the game is definitely plotting a course in the right direction.

A future urban playground of sorts, Crackdown takes its aesthetic cues from comic books (in fact, Microsoft refers to the look as styled after "graphic novels") then packs its world full of the expected danger and driving and dodging stuff. More interestingly, you'll also be leap over tall buildings in a single bound. How so? Well, when we said that the game takes cues from comic books, the inspiration goes well beyond mere visuals.

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