style="font-style: italic;">The contributing artists give
amazing atmosphere to the plot and setting, setting BLEEDOUT apart from
its competition easily.
Crime doesn't pay, unless we're talking about CrimeCraft, a futuristic
MMORPG third-person shooter that
has you killing for money whether it be NPCs or other
players. The game is free to play with a subscription option
cash shop. The expansion content, BLEEDOUT, is planned for 10 episodes,
with the first being free, and successive being free to subscribers or
available for purchase for a few bucks each for free players. The
content for the expansion has much higher production values in the
graphics with beautiful comic book style inks and a graphical novel
tie-in to bring it all together, making it much more desirable compared
to other paid content in other F2P MMOs.
Starting off as a humble thug, you work your way up the criminal ladder
and gain a multitude of skills to slay foes, escort allies, and capture
stolen goods. Oh who are we kidding--you're the one doing the
stealing half of the time. You gain levels and with each
level comes additional skill points to allocate to specialize in
additional weapons, use a variety of explosives, defend yourself, and
regenerate hit points lost in firefights.
Every quest starts from an NPC, though the NPCs can look awfully
different than you'd expect from a standard MMO. You don't see yourself
getting a quest from a payphone in WoW, now do you? Almost
every quest has you joining some form of an instance, but more along
the lines of Warhammer's Public Quests. Several players may
be in an area, all with different objectives, but the enemies do not
care and will attack everyone equally. Spawns are rapid and
can be unexpected or even frustrating as you get caught reloading.
Kills themselves during a quest only add to your score for the mission,
which determines the amount and level of rewards you receive when you
complete the quest or choose to leave. Grinding isn't exactly
feasible as a result, as you'll always need to be working on some form
of quest to progress. But even if you feel there are no more
'real' quests, there are always odd jobs to work on. Odd jobs
can be anything from killing 10 guys that use pistols, to killing 50
enemies using pistols of your own. You can work on tons at a
time and you'll find yourself completing them without even trying,
giving you a little boost of XP and cash every time you hit up a
payphone to check your progress.
Crafting is a mixed bag. It's kind of hard to imagine a
resource node popping up in the criminal underworld, so that system is
out the window. Now after selecting a profession, you can
craft an item that enables you to collect vastly more drops of that
type when you do an instance, kind of like WoW's system for tailors
only moreso. This leads to a lot less useless crap piling up
in your inventory and is a welcome change on the whole--especially when
you're a free player with only one bag of space
This game is not ESRB Rated. There are some adult concepts and language in play, so be advised.
Gameplay - 70 / 100
style="font-style: italic;">NPCs are easily found using the
in-game map and radar icons. Since everyone is useful for
something and you probably can't keep their names straight, this is
CrimeCraft's gameplay takes some getting used to. Controls are just as you'd expect from any other shooter, with the ability to zoom in on targets and go
for head shots for bonus damage. However, RPG elements
are still in play (read: level trumps skill) and you'll notice your weapons lose power beyond a
certain effective range. This leads to many a "What the hell?" moment where new players will headshot opponents at long range with pistols and rifles, doing little damage. Maybe in the near apocalyptic future, the weapons are Airsoft-powered.
One of the more interesting calls is the removal of jumping,
period. It's nothing to a Final Fantasy XIV player, but in a
PvP-based shooter where mobility is critical, the lack of jumping can be pretty
punishing. It's inexcusable to schlump through two
feet of water until you find a wooden plank strategically placed to run
up and out of the drink. However, instead of jumping, you can roll to cover
ground and become less of a target for a split second. This is
no replacement for crime lords-a-leaping, though.
That said, when you get down to it, CrimeCraft's run and gun feels good.
Targeting is good and has minimal to no lag associated with
it. Enemy AI isn't too bad (high praise for an online, unscripted shooter) and will use cover, roll, and use
special weapons on you with deadly accuracy. The PvP is
varied with several play types from other FPS games, and the maps are
fairly balanced. Capture point gameplay in particular felt
just right--with spawn points being close to the action, but capture
points taking a good while to convert to your team. Everyone
enjoys a good bloodbath!
I have to point out that you really need to put some time into
CrimeCraft in order to get a feel for the real game and
gameplay. The prologue is long... very long. It will
take you a good ~2-3 hours to run through the entire tutorial start to
finish, and that's not wasting any time. That said, it can't help but do a good
job of introducing you to most of the concepts and processes you'll go
through to succeed and progress in the world of CrimeCraft. Now if only it could accomplish that without sapping my desire to play the game.
Once you've made a name for yourself, the expansion BLEEDOUT becomes available. Normally this isn't a big deal, but the production values are much higher in this compared to the base game, and sports a plethora of major improvements. Authentic looking comic book style graphics punctuate the tale dealing with the greed of man, giving the quests much more personality and compels you to go forward in them. Some much needed voice acting is also added into the mix, and it's all free to subscribers or only $2 per 'issue', or quest pack.
Graphics - 70 / 100
On high, the graphics of CrimeCraft are respectable. Visuals are nothing mind blowing and some of the textures are muddy, but the animations are solid and people blow up and collapse dead in a gratifying fashion. The graphics settings lack granular control, however, so if you have a card that has trouble with a specific feature such as anti-aliasing or high end shadows or water effects, you'll have to suck it up and run the whole game on low, which sours the visual appeal of the game a good bit. I was particularly disappointed with the effects of the rocket and grenade launchers, which have weak effects and tiny explosion radii. But one cannot ignore the beautiful hand-drawn comic book animation for the intros to the BLEEDOUT campaigns, and those give a much needed boost to the average for the game and its expansion.
Sound - 82 / 100
Sound is a mixed bag for CrimeCraft. The music plays its purpose, but lacks punch or any kind of epic feel to be memorable or even noticeable most of the time. Some weapons effects sound like they were recorded in a tin can, while the shouts of Berserkers holstering their weapons and charging at your face are colorful, varied, and perfect. Directional audio plays a big part in determining threats before they are visible or shooting you, and CrimeCraft does a good job of pulling it off, especially for a free to play game. The lack of any kind of real voice overs in game is a bit troubling, but typical for the F2P MMO genre--until you reach BLEEDOUT. Then you're treated to some quality voice work as well, which greatly helps the immersion and interest of most players.
Multiplayer - 90 / 100
PvP is a joy, but both equipment and to a lesser extent skills make a big difference compared to other PvP shooters such as Global Agenda. You won't be able to leave the prologue and dominate when you're against people with fully automatic weapons and plenty of damage reduction on their equipment. Once you're on a similar playing field, though, the variety and challenge of the PvP is satisfying.
Grouping is a mixed bag unless you BYOG. Joining most scenarios will throw you into a game in progress with people who, if you're lucky, will watch your back a little, and more than likely will completely ignore you. There is an auction house to interact with players indirectly and make cash, but the fees are fairly high unless you pay to subscribe.
Value - 70 / 100
The first episode of BLEEDOUT is free. Successive episodes weigh in at $2 each, and there is a subscription option to gain access to virtually everything in the game, so the end result is a system that resembles an episodic DDO. While the quests and especially the atmosphere of BLEEDOUT are top-notch, the episodes themselves are not worth the price tag unless you truly enjoy the intros and hand drawn comic book style. One of the ten episodes is released every week or two, so expenses will pile up quickly and you don't know if you're going to enjoy the direction of the story or, more importantly, the gameplay mission associated with it before your purchase is finalized.
Lasting Appeal - 65 / 100
CrimeCraft is a solid time waster for fun PvE and PvP on the fly, but it requires a fairly large time investment (both in terms of skills and equipment) in order to become competitive. It's being updated fairly often, but the lasting appeal to you personally will increase the more time you put into it. The prologue is singularly painful, but if you make it and get into the actual game and enjoy it, you'll likely stick with it for a while.
BLEEDOUT is very well done and executed, but with a big emphasis on the storyline, the lasting appeal of the game is crippled when you know what happens as you play through it on multiple characters.
Pros and Cons
- Good variety of realistic weapons and modifiers.
- Zero waiting to get into PvE. Go it alone or go with people already in, and watch people join mid-mission.
- Headshots aren't mandatory, making the game way more arcade-y compared to other MMO Shooters.
- Graphics and sound are adequate, but droll.
- Prologue will either bore you to tears or make you uninstall.
- Subscribers get a huge advantage in gear buying and selling and progression, much moreso than in other MMO shooters.
It takes a lot to make a shooter MMO work, and CrimeCraft does a respectable job of it. It's receiving considerable support, with episode 4 of BLEEDOUT now live as of Christmas. PvE and PvP are quick and easy to get into, and quests are readily available at any given point in time. If you can overlook the flaws of progression and pacing, you'll find a respectable online shooter that has zero up-front cost, and also has a polished film noir feel if you choose to progress into the episodic content of BLEEDOUT.
Overall 68/100 - Okay
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