E3 06: Crackdown

We got a private sit-down with this cartoony crime buster and uncovered a gargantuan world where freedom and growth rule. In the free-form, do-whatever-you-want environment of Pacific City, you get to sweep the streets of thugs using any means you deem necessary.

Every crook you kill delivers a bit of skill points to boost your arsenal of abilities and make you a more effective super-cop. Taking that concept even further, every skill you use will help you develop keener strength in that particular area, so if you like punching thugs and tossing cars around, your strength skill will get... um, stronger.

As you build your shooting performance, you'll be able to focus the standard lock-on to a degree where you can target specific body parts. Whenever you lock a chump in your reticle, you'll be able to choose whether you want to go for the insta-kill headshot, debilitating leg shot or disarming weapon shot. But this idea extends to vehicles as well, enabling you to take out the tires or go for the full on explosive destruction of a gas cap shot.

All of this mayhem is not without consequence, and as you hammer away at the three gangs of the city, you'll notice a decrease in their strengths. If you take out the kingpin that handles the gangs' vehicles, all of the law-breakers' rides will get significantly less pimped out. Similarly, ganking the weapons kingpin hampers the firepower available to the gang members across the city. The environment also changes as you clean up the crooks and eliminating the more vain kingpins will result in statues they'd erected around town to get torn down.

If this sounds like a lot to accomplish on your own, you needn't worry because you don't have to go it alone. Two player co-op over Xbox Live enables you and a friend to take on the armada of evil-doers in Pacific City. The enemies intelligence and tactics can be used against them as one player makes a big diversion while another infiltrates a kingpin's hideout.

Even from our brief view, Crackdown appears to be the game we'll be playing while we wait for GTA 4 to drop in October 2007.

May 10, 2006