CrimeCraft – hands-on

Robbers and robbers

The Horde hates the Alliance. When there%26rsquo;s a downpour downtown in City of Heroes, the villains don%26rsquo;t give the good guys a ride to work. A high elf archmage in Warhammer Online wouldn%26rsquo;t take a goblin shaman to prom.

Conflict sustains MMOs. If you%26rsquo;re putting in 30 or 40 hours a week, lore can only do so much - at some point, player-created history, alliances, and rivalries start driving the experience. With that in mind, we can%26rsquo;t think of a better stand-in for %26ldquo;meet you in the parking lot after school%26rdquo; than an MMO set on a lawless penal island colony - Sunrise City, CrimeCraft%26rsquo;s urban dystopia ruled by player-formed gangs competing for prestige, with nary a hero in sight to ruin the fun.

We%26rsquo;re wandering through an alpha build of Sunrise to gather missions, recruit members, and swap the scope on our sniper rifle before queuing for a match. Think of Sunrise as a massive, graffiti-lined lobby for gathering items and socializing; not a combat zone, but a contextual space to justify why we%26rsquo;re dressing up in a camo vest and exchange-student jeans to lob Molotov cocktails in an 8-on-8 team match.

Behind Unreal 3 tech, the loose combat prioritizes action over tactics, like The Club or Mercenaries 2; we sprint-roll between stacked shipping crates at a dockyard, recklessly sprinkling C4 and mines on surfaces, two of our three maximum abilities. Our other feat, optical camo, makes us invisible long enough to hole up in a corner and pick off a few targets through our custom scope. Active loot adds another chaotic element: At one point we rush to a corpse we didn%26rsquo;t kill to nab some dropped goods; later on, we use another loot-littered corpse as bait to lure an opponent.

EXP is earned when the round wraps up, but better, our gang rank also jumps, letting us unlock a new hideout item. We like the idea of gang hideouts, customizable private areas (animal-print upholstery!) where your crew can socialize and strategize, and operate crafting stations to create weapons or %26ldquo;substances,%26rdquo; less-than-legal consumables that enhance combat ability.

There are more than a few social shooters en route to the PC in %26rsquo;09 (Quake Live, Parabellum, Global Agenda, Battlefield Heroes), a trend we hope spurs a multiplayer scene that actively preserves the time we invest. We want more persistency in our shooters - something that puts our rivalries and leaderboard rank front-and-center, flaunts our 10:1 kill/death ratio, and gives us enough offensive emotes to rub our foes%26rsquo; faces in it. We%26rsquo;ll see if CrimeCraft takes this approach when the beta rolls out this summer.

+ Has promise as a platform for social shooting, over-the-top character customization, and third-person warfare in an innately conflict-encouraging setting. Integrated voice chat, instanced PvE, and leaderboard tracking are welcome adds.
%26ndash; Will shoehorning MMO elements water-down the shooting mechanics? We%26rsquo;re hoping for a land-grab campaign or something similar to give gangs a way of competing month-to-month.

Feb 11, 2009

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