CrimeCraft is a gritty multiplayer shooter from Vogster Entertainment, although they like to call it a “Persistent World Next-gen Shooter” (PWNS, get it?). Essentially it’s an MMO shooter with some decent role-playing elements included. When it was first released back in 2009 it didn’t receive the best reception from critics, but developed a pretty large player following all the same. Now it’s back on everyone’s radar with the introduction of Bleedout, a new expansion that brings a lot of improvements and additions to the core game. NZGamer.com decided it was high time for us to take a look at the game that made even the Aussies blush*.
The CrimeCraft world is a pretty bleak one: set in a fictional place called Sunrise City, ten years after a massive ecological disaster, and the last of the oil has been used up. Millions are homeless, penniless and hopeless, and the gangs have taken over. Some things appear to have survived the near-collapse of civilization however, including greed, violence and the desperate quest for power, and you’re tough enough and hungry enough to try and reach the top of the heap. Fortunately for you there are still loads of drugs and guns around, as well as the technology to develop bigger and better weapons. (Although, you’d think tofu and rice would feature more heavily on the black market in a starving world, right?)
The game is structured with Sunrise City as a massive lobby, where characters can form gangs, buy weapons, learn new skills and crafts, and accept missions. The missions themselves (Player vs Environment, as well as Player vs Player) take place in instanced battlefields accessible via portals around the city. Successfully completing missions rewards players with experience, skill points, gear, and money, which is pretty standard fare for most MMOs these days.
The bulk of the PvE missions are also pretty standard fare, with their ‘go here, shoot x number of bad guys, then return for your reward’ type of quests. And while in early levels the AI of the baddies is pretty laughable, this scales rather rapidly to the point where you barely stand a chance in some scenarios. Many players have complained about this in the forums.
That point aside, the main gameplay focus in CrimeCraft is more on the PvP action. In this regard the game definitely delivers, with a large range of battle types where teams fight each other to achieve various goals – everything from turf battles and capture the flag, to death match and even robbery scenarios. We didn’t get a chance to play either of these, but both the Gangwar (where gang leaders can challenge each other for a wagered amount of money), and Tournament (where teams of four play in a series of elimination matches, and the last team standing wins $10,000 in-game cash) options sound interesting.
Also interesting is the subscription model, which lets people play the game for free, but with the option to pay if you want extras (such as earning xp at a faster rate), or wish to partake in some subscription-only quests. This is where Bleedout comes in: it’s a new episodic quest campaign with a new map. With it came several additions to the core game, including more regular Tournaments, a reputation system, and more gear (clothes and weapons). It also included an update to the look and feel of the lobby areas, but as newcomers to the game we can’t comment much on this count. In any case, the episodic campaigns are spread out over ten weeks, with a new episode released every week.
For all of these reasons, CrimeCraft is an intriguing game, but there’s a lot that vexes about it, that has nothing to do with its ultra-violence and cliched depiction of female characters (though the fact that the only option of footwear for females is stiletto heels still annoys this humble reviewer; try walking in them, you’ll understand why you wouldn’t wear them to a post-apocalyptic gang rumble!) An abundance of typos immediately grated (such as the on-screen display of “Target’s killed”), as did the often-bizarre dialogue (“You ready to get your hillbilly mind blown by some big city genius shit?”). And the look of the characters overlaid with the background just felt…odd.
Still, for all the weirdness, CrimeCraft is at the stage where it’s a well-established MMO, and it certainly feels, despite the niggles above, to be a solid game with a stable player-base. It’s not recommended for younger players, what with the game’s seemingly blase attitude towards the body count (one instanced battle was prefaced with the text “kill everyone with extreme prejudice. God will sort the bodies later”), but for grownups looking for a violent alternative to WoW to let them blow off some steam, CrimeCraft may just be what you’re looking for.