Where Have All
the Criminals Gone?
CrimeCraft is hailed as a persistent-world shooter that features fast-paced, strategic, third-person combat coupled with RPG elements such as quests, levels, experience points, guilds, and crafting. Developed by Vogster Entertainment, the game is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which the downfall of civilization occurred due to economic collapse. You play as a refugee living in the last bastion of civilization, Sunrise City, but things aren’t as civilized as they appear.
Built on the Unreal Engine 3, CrimeCraft has the potential for some amazing visuals. Unfortunately, it rarely delivers any moments of next-gen awe. Instead, players are treated to awkwardly proportioned character models and a ridiculous amount of bright blurring around edges. This isn’t to say that the game’s graphics aren’t decent for a current generation game, but they certainly don’t meet the full potential of the engine. Of course, the reduced visuals do make for a relatively smooth performance on less powerful computers during combat and while walking around the city.
The game is only playable from the third-person perspective, so gamers hoping to have some kind of first-person view will be disappointed. Nevertheless, the third-person camera works great while in the cities, but it has the potential to be problematic when in combat. For example, players can get close to edges and see around them without actually exposing their character. You can think of it as a type of leaning functionality in many FPS games since you still can’t shoot without exposing yourself, but it doesn’t always work well depending on which side the character is facing.
CrimeCraft’s controls are fairly standard to most shooters, not MMORPGs. The keys are fully customizable, allowing players to define their preferred mapping. One of the game’s most interesting aspects is the complete removal of jumping. Players are unable to jump while in combat and moving around the cities. The idea behind this design choice is to completely eliminate the possibility of what the FPS community has dubbed “bunny hopping.” In its place, Vogster chose to give players the ability to roll, which works surprisingly well aside from a few hiccups.
The inability to jump, while effectively replaced in combat, can make moving through the city particularly cumbersome and sometimes downright annoying. Getting to NPCs that would normally be a simple jump over a small ledge away can only be reached by running around an entire fence. Worse yet are the small heightened parts of maps that can block a player’s path, yet should be an easy step up to overcome.
The music in CrimeCraft is composed of subtle, pulsing beats, but the lack of variation will drive many to muting the music volume altogether. The sound effects are decent, but oddly inconsistent. For example, the sound of players running along pavement can sound almost identical to running along grass. The combat sounds for weapons are good enough to get a pass, but they won’t blow you away either, even if your subwoofer is at the max. The game features almost no voice acting at all, but what little it does have comes across extremely corny and over-the-top, which would be fine if the game’s mood set the standard.
The combat gameplay features the standard of FPS gaming. Modes such as Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag are represented here, but with different names. The game also features a control point mode similar to Day of Defeat Source in which players have to capture all the points on the map to win. Another varied game mode is the Robbery mode, which forces players to steal money from the other team’s safe and bring it back to their own. Think of it as a variation of capture the flag. While the PvP modes seem rather simplistic and traditional, the gameplay still makes for some exciting and fun moments.
The game also features PvE game modes for players looking for something different. Unfortunately, what is delivered is nothing more than the same PvP maps sprinkled with AI opponents that have respawn timers. There are items containers that can be picked up on these maps, which players open once in the city to reveal items, but where these containers are placed is static, and they respawn in the same place on a timer like the AI. Dungeon-crawlers of MMORPGs will be extremely disappointed by the PvE gameplay CrimeCraft has to offer. There are no short, linear levels with multiple objectives or final boss fights that require teamwork and strategy. Instead, they are simple, time limit games that pit human players against a map filled with AI opponents.
CrimeCraft’s character creation does allow for a modicum of variety, but not much when compared to other MMORPG character creation systems. Be prepared to run into a lot of players that look very similar to your own, despite a variety of clothing options and colors. Other RPG elements include experience points, levels, unlockable abilities, and the ability to craft items. Players progress through the game by completing missions, which are PvE quests, playing PvP and PvE matches, and by completing “Jobs,” which are very similar to Xbox LIVE and Steam Achievements with the bonus that they are worth experience points and money.
Players also have the choice to choose a crafting profession among tailoring, which results in armors and clothing; engineering, which results in weapons and weapon modifications; and chemistry, which results in power-up and health regeneration items. Most items found during PvE matches or received at the end of PvP matches are crafting items that can be combined to fulfill recipe requirements. Overall, the crafting system is simple and fairly easy to understand.
There is a micro-transaction system in place as well, although Vogster has managed to keep it from breaking the balance of gameplay, which is a much-appreciated relief. For example, many games that feature micro-transactions allow players to spend real money to acquire more powerful items that give them a significant advantage over others. However, CrimeCraft is clever in that the system is only useful for buying cosmetic items such as unique clothing, hairstyles, and other items that only alter the aesthetics. Therefore, gamers who don’t find forking over some additional cash can put on a ninja suit or a SWAT team uniform.
One of the most troubling aspects of CrimeCraft is the complete lack of “crime.” The cities are ruled by gangs, corruption is supposed to be everywhere, and yet, things seem quite serene. Gamers looking for the opportunity to mug an old lady or rob a city bank aren’t going find their fantasies fulfilled. Players still purchase items from vendors and buy and sell items at an auction house, which doesn’t strike me as particularly devious. It does provide a platform for gang wars, but the system does little more than record wins and losses. A territory control system that actually affected the game world would at least have been a step in the right direction, but you won’t find it here either.
CrimeCraft costs the standard $50 up front before you can begin playing. After that, gamers are looking at a reoccurring $10 per month to keep the habit. There is a significant number of real-world, in-game advertisements as well, which really breaks the immersion level considering it would be assumed that a collapsed economy would force companies like Atticus and Alienware out of business. The PvP game modes are certainly CrimeCraft’s strong point as the combat can be fun, varied, and interesting, but it lacks in the RPG department and doesn’t seem nearly as polished in many other areas of production.
If you’re an avid FPS gamer, CrimeCraft will deliver what you’d expect, albeit in third-person. Whether it is worth the hefty price tag considering most shooters deliver their multiplayer free of charge, is another question entirely. It might be advantageous to sit on the sidelines and see how well the game develops before taking the dive.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.0 Graphics
Visuals are strong enough to fit in with the current generation crowd, but they don’t meet the full potential of the Unreal Engine 3. 3.5 Control
Standard shooter controls are easily learned and customizable. No jumping can be refreshing in combat, but it’s also frustrating when trying to overcome short obstacles. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is repetitive. The sound effects are effective except in a few places, especially when it comes to ambient affects. 3.0 Play Value
The standard PvP gameplay can be a lot of fun, and the RPG elements are better than expected. But much of what is offered is available in most shooters with free multiplayer. 3.0 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.