Crimecraft: Bleedout (PC) review
"It has the chance to stand out from the crowd, to not be just another also-ran, but it would be unfair to say itís there right now. Should it continue down this path, its future looks promising."
I wonít say what game, but a little while back, I received a review copy of a famous fantasy MMO. It had pedigree, hype and there was no reason to suspect it would be anything but a stellar title. We have a fair few people here on HG who have the means and the knowledge to write a fair and competent piece on such a game, and, in the fullness of time, I contacted every single one of them. The response was universal.
ďAnother fantasy MMO? Pass.Ē
Blame what you will, ranging from uncountable Warcraft wannabes, easily obtainable browser titles or the sudden influx of licenses that banded together and marched onto the market in mass. The genre is overcrowded, and the elbow room is running out fast. In my line of work, nothing says this more than when you have to work your arse off to give away a free game because the person who takes it is then obligated to play it.
Flash back to August 2009 and Crimecraft tried its best to be a little bit different. It was a brave stand to make, setting itself in a near future and swapping orcs and elves with gangland heavies armed with machineguns. Perhaps the idea would have taken off, but the game was buggy and unresponsive. As such, it was soon taken off commercial shelves and slapped on an indefinite free trial. Over time, patches were released, tweaks were made and mistakes were undone. The developer listened to its fans feedback, learnt and evolved. Then it came back with Bleedout and I wish I was able to be more praising than Iím going to be.
Foremost, Bleedout is a big step up. It builds itself upon the already vastly improved foundations that Crimecraft has drug itself from, then looks outside its folds for new ideas. As such, it consists of an episodic drip feed of eleven chapters directed, written and animated by eleven different people. They show the original world of Crimecraft, but clad in a new artistic sheen. Animated openings bookmark the episodes, bemoaning the fate of man and the downfall of civilisation. The death of fossil fuels, the folding of the corporate world and a new order built upon the back of the weak. Itís more or less exactly what the once silent world needed; bursts of sound and direction that forces the once shambling but promising program into a relevant light.
Then, dropping into PvP or PvE was easy, but it presented a world the wrong side of monochrome. The graphics were acceptable, but the voice acting non existent, the sound effects cheap and the music uninspiring. Bleedout upgrades all the lacking cosmetics and makes the game feel more alive, complete with a better soundtrack, stellar voice acting and newly recorded effects. Itís little upgrades, perhaps, but itís the little things that make a game world feel more complete; definite steps in the right direction have been made.
Then, jumping into the over-the-shoulder viewpoint of your heavily armed avatar threw you into a world that promised a large emphasis on team-based shooting but fell short and now, well, nothing has changed there. Thereís a small but solid community thatís stuck with the title from it inglorious opening, but theyíre more practised than you, and will blow you to chunks. Theyíre not only more practised, but know what theyíre doing and have had the time to up their weapon stats. Even then, thereís no real teamwork to speak of. Some gangs have had time to bond and plot, but, more often than not, the dream of roaming gangs is of the pipe variety; youíll be mostly alone, no matter what you do.
Crimecraft still has a lot of growing up to do, but in Bleedout itís taken a big step in the right direction. Itís certainly not there yet, but itís trying to mature and itís taking advice seriously. In listening to its loyal user base, and in being brave enough to look for help outside of its comfort zone itís showing real signs that it can work its way out of its humble beginnings. It has the chance to stand out from the crowd, to not be just another also-ran, but it would be unfair to say itís there right now. Should it continue down this path, its future looks promising.
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