by: William Usher
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 4/17/2012
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Running on the Unreal Engine 3, CrimeCraft is one good looking game to have such a dirty atmosphere. But are graphics enough to save this game from its faulty business model and lacking in-game content?
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Good Showing But Not Good Enough
Vogster Entertainment’s third-person MMO, CrimeCraft, looked good at this year’s E3. The promotional campaigns were impressive and the game’s graphics looked to set it apart from the rest of the herd. The problem, however, is that looks can be deceiving and with the game’s subscription heavy module it makes this a difficult game to appreciate unless you have a lot of patience and time. This rings especially true if you dont mind dying a lot and spending a lot of your in-game hours trying to figure out what you’re doing.
I had a lot of high hopes for this game, especially considering that there just aren't enough third-person MMOs out there that don't fall within the anime-shooter genre. However, Vogster's attempt at entering the genre with this graphics-heavy shooter leaves much to be desired. I'm not going to spoil it all in this first paragraph, though. Keep reading this review on Crimecraft to find out what the game does well and where it seemingly falls flat on its face.
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Story And Setting
Let’s start off with the basic premise of the game and why players may (or may not) be compelled to play this game in the first place. The story is extremely bare-bones and consists of a crime-ridden future where you either join a gang or start a gang but violence is inevitable. There is only one city that is safe-guarded from the gangs and that’s where players start. Yep, that’s about it when it comes to the general story. After creating a character players are thrust into one of the last remaining safe zones on the planet that works as the central hub for shopping, crafting, acquiring missions and upgrading your character.
The city is fairly large but not so large that it should be the only place to visit on the entire game. It’s actually broken down into a few parts and players can travel back and forth using a simple teleportation transit system. However, it just feels really underwhelming giving that the game is quite large to download and install (the installation setup is 3.3gig alone) and it would seem like maybe there would have been a bit more to the general world map layout.
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Graphics And Visuals
Now, aesthetically, CrimeCraft looks good. The character designs look gritty, the citizens within the safe-zone city have a crafty undertone to the way they move about the city, and everyone who isn’t an officer matches the organized crime stereotype. It works well for the game. The gun designs and clothing options are pretty good, too, with a decent range of customizable features that let you outfit your criminal with various hats, shoes, shirts, pants, skirts, armor and other specialty items.
The environments are also nicely done and take on a slightly grittier theme of the now-legendary Liberty City from the Grand Theft Auto series. In fact, Sunrise City (the main city in the game) is pretty much a replica of something you might find in a game like GTA or the upcoming All Points Bulletin.
The battle maps (where all the action takes place) are designed really well. They also offer up a lot of detail and give a good sense of a world bathed in chaos. The lighting and texture work are also a good showcase of the Unreal Engine 3. If I had a complaint about any of the graphics it would probably be with the drab palette used…everything sort of has a dried-out concrete look, but otherwise the game looks good.
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Now so far a lot of praise has been given to the visuals and graphics, but now it’s time to for the moment of truth: the gameplay. Actually, the in-game play is fairly well done. The shooting mechanics and controls work well. Anyone who has played any recent third-person shooter will fill right at home with CrimeCraft. The mouse aims and the ‘W’,’A’,’S’,’D’ moves and strafes the character. The number keys switch the weapons and ‘Shift’ activates skills. It’s literally that simple. With that said, players can dodge and duck out of the incoming fire and use a variety of objects within the game to hide behind. Shooting enemies is pretty easy if you’re an FPS fan or if you have a decent selection of equipment. Modifying the weapons also play a pretty big part in the overall in-game experience, allowing for more accuracy, less recoil or having the option to carry more clips. The weapon designs and sound effects are also nicely done, especially with the reloading animations and the muzzle fire. If I did have a gripe with the gameplay it would probably have to be with the fact that you can't lean and shoot like a lot of other games out there. Otherwise, the gameplay is pretty solid in CrimeCraft.
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This is probably the most important part of this review for one obvious reason: if you don’t pay to play this game you definitely won’t like it. Quite simply, if you aren’t paying for CrimeCraft you can’t create your own character and you have to get stuck with a random character. All you get to choose is a name. If you don’t subscribe you also won’t have as much access to skills, quest items, crafting or making a guild. Bummer, eh? Well, even if you do pay to play the major problem is that there isn’t enough separation between character levels for players to adequately find games suited for their skills. This means that once you reach level 5 everyone just kind of piles into the same games killing each other. Unlike GunZ, S4 League or just about every other decently designed MMO action game where player servers/games are separated by level, skill, etc., it’s just kind of a shooting gallery in CrimeCraft. As I mentioned earlier, you'll spend a lot of time dying or watching the respawn counter up until you're at least level 10. That's not a good concept to greet new players.
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The other downside is that there aren’t enough game modes outside of killing NPCs in the PVE modes to appropriately level when you start as a newb, unless…you pay to play. But even if you pay the modes are still limited and make it difficult to level. The deathmatch modes are repetitive and are always in favor of high levels, and in Riot mode (every player for themselves) you just end up getting shot from every which angle and dying in a few hits without the appropriate gear. Of course, buying new gear means earning cash and the best way to do that is…yep, pay to play.
The other modes in the game include Robbery, which is a deathmatch mode where two teams try to steal money from the other team’s base. Turf War, which is anothr deathmatch that is exactly like Battlefield or Battlefront where you attack control points and the team who controls the points the longest wins. Snatch’n’Grab is yet another deathmatch mode and another name for capture the flag. The last mode is called Riot, and as previously mentioned, is the standard deathmatch/team deathmatch mode. I'm thinking there just aren't enough deathmatch modes. Anyway, the PVE modes against the bots actually happen to be the most fun just because the bots take cover and strategically try to flank players, where-is players just run out and kill you before you know what’s going on. The problem is that there aren't enough game modes that mix-up the gamelay so it's just sort of the same thing over and over again.
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The “Free-to-try" or pseudo "Free-to-play" concept for this game ruins it greatly. Basically, you just get to witness how much content isn’t featured in the game outside of its smooth in-game shooting mechanics. Crafting for a game like this isn’t a bad concept but it’s completely ruined under the clunky business model that will be sure to turn off a lot of gamers due to all the restrictions for non-paying gamers. Even if you pay to play there still isn’t a whole lot to the game worth paying for. What’s worse is that there aren’t a whole lot of players populating the game world or offering a lot of support, or much of an in-game community. Also, good luck trying to find decent games to join because most of the time you’ll find yourself out-gunned and out-leveled.
Games like S4 League, GunZ, Combat Arms or Cross Fire offer tons more content and replayability without making players feel like they’re missing something, especially with the use of a decent selection of in-game items and specialty cash shop options. Good graphics and solid shooting aside, CrimeCraft sadly has nothing going for it. That doesn’t mean this game may not ever become a noteworthy MMO shooter. If Vogster can work on fixing up the business model and streamlining more in-game content with leveling and questing, especially for non-paying gamers, CrimeCraft could easily be one of the best MMO action games out there. However, as it stands, you should only bother with the 3.3 gigabyte download if you feel like being disappointed.