By Kyt Dotson
CrimeCraft is a free-to-play FPS MMO published by Vogster that thrusts players in the bleak world of the post-apocalyptic Big Bleedout caused by the failure of oil and fossil fuels in the future. This Bleedout happens to be a 10-week episodic event that started in December 2010 that tells the story of the fall of civilization and the rise of gang warfare and the gritty concrete gun-noir atmosphere that the game runs on.
Overall I found the game extremely playable and enjoyable. Over my stay in the game I enjoyed both the atmosphere and the story. It comes with a deep narrative played out both across in-game missions and narrated comic-book style cut scenes that build the suspense as well as the lifeblood of Sunrise City and it?s turbulent gang warfare.
The graphics are visually stunning with excellent texturing and models for the characters. The game mostly takes place in run-down cities and urban wastelands of shattered glass and rusted steel. Cars of every sort lay in twisted ruin along crumbling roads hoods crumpled windshields smashed?no longer usable with the dwindling small petroleum resources. The only travel city from city seems to be an invisible bus/subway system accessible by the heavily-armed Municipality Transportation Officers.
The characters come with very little physical variation (no City of Heroes character creator here) just male female with a stock set of faces and hair with the requisite series of color choices. Clothing is also fairly generic but characters can buy different clothing from tailors and get color changes for what they?ve already bought?the cash shop even includes rare and uncommon types of clothing that otherwise cannot be bought in game or made by tailors. The gendered clothing choices also seem a little bit silly; for example girls can only wear high heels and boys sneakers. I haven?t seen a single boot amongst them yet?perhaps those appear in the cash shop and I haven?t looked thoroughly enough.
The weapons display with a fair amount of detail. Although it?s mostly for your own benefit; it?s unlikely that you?ll be spending much time admiring the gun of the guy who just mowed you down. Every detail counts.
Character animations are a little bit mediocre and if you know what you?re looking for have some silly mistakes but I wouldn?t hold that against them. As it?s been said before about animation: players will forgive slight violations of physics but they will not forgive lossy framerate. The animations could use a little bit of variety as well as the character graphics but these are concessions we make for the game to run swiftly and that?s more than good-enough to play.
It runs quick and clean on my system which is a few years out of date. And while a download of almost 5G seemed pretty heavy I am able to run it from my USB external hard drive without a hitch during gameplay.
This is a first-person-shooter to its core. The gameplay is wrapped around that without remorse and if you?re already used to FPS games you?ll take to this like a fish to water. The response time is quick and lag is currently minimal. It?s also quick and easy to get into instances and you rarely need to worry about going in alone. In fact from what I?ve experienced instances crank difficulty level to the number of people entering so even if you?re without support you won?t be facing fifty respawning soliders all by yourself.
Players only get to carry three different weapons at a time from pistols SMGs shotguns assault rifles sniper rifles grenade launchers and so on. Certain types switch out with other types?for example you cannot carry a shotgun and an assault rifle at the same time; they use the same equipment slot?and the tactics for using them vary slightly allowing players to pick and choose their load-out for their play style or the mission they?re about to run.
One caveat I have with gameplay right now has to do with the cloak which you must become uncloaked before opening fire (it doesn?t allow you to open fire immediately out of cloak there?s a half-second to a second delay.) Perhaps this is included in order to balance gameplay with stealthed characters but I find it somewhat frustrating.
The Enemy AI is a little bit blockheaded at times and they can just sit there and wait for you to sneak up behind them (not stealthed) or they might spawn right on you and start hammering you with bullets before you know what?s going on. However being dead really isn?t that big of a penalty.
After dying in any match you respawn after about 3 seconds (with a forced respawn 20 seconds after that.)
Instanced matches also have an upper maximum time limit of 15 minutes which lends a sense of urgency to whatever you happen to be doing at the time. You need to kill 20 rogues or pick up 8 pieces of information from enemies? Better get that done within the allotted 15 minutes because if you need to re-enter the instance it gets amnesia about your progress in the previous one and you need to start all over again.
If I were to pick any portion of CrimeCraft to shine a spotlight on this is where I?d aim. When it comes to missions and open-ended world experience here the Vogster really shines.
New players run through a training gauntlet at the beginning before joining up to the bigger maps in Sunrise city by going through an induction process for outsiders to join the city. This area known as The Moat happens to be where all aspirants for the scraps of civilization that still remain prove their worth to the city at large. The missions bounce characters between a series of quest givers in a linear fashion but each mission teaches valuable lessons?how to equip a gun how to modify a gun how to dodge/roll and wield your melee weapon how to use your crafting profession and so on. After making it through The Moat?listed as the prologue?a player entering into Sunrise City will have a full skill set to start playing the game.
The Bleedout episodic missions carry with them a lot of history and narrative that really made the missions interesting to me and made me want to go into them to continue the story. The first Bleedout episodic mission is free to non-subscription players but further episodes will either cost a subscription ($4.99/mo) or can be bought with cash shop money.
Mission types also vary widely from sending players in to do escorts to kill a certain number of opponents to find and collect items hidden in the zone to sneak up on and listen to a private meeting between warlords?I don?t know that I?ve even seen all the different scenarios integrated into the system.
Aside from the Bleedout missions across every zone random quest givers have specific tasks on offer. These tasks can coincide with the narrative missions as side-effects or they send players into specific PvP instances to retrieve items kill specific people or complete particular tasks. Also telephones litter the landscape that allow players to take task missions to gain experience money and reputation that ask them do things like kill 25 enemies in PvE with headshots kill 25 enemies in PvE while equipped with a pistol etc. The telephone (and on map characters) even offer PvP instance missions that involve killing other players and completing tasks in PvP.
With this non-linear mission and goal system plus the linear-narrative episodic content CrimeCraft offers something for everyone.
Community Gangs and Reputation
CrimeCraft delivers an experience that is inextricably tied to competition and reputation. Point-in-fact the entire post-apocalyptic narrative drives players to understand that the world is run by powerful people who draw their resources from powerful groups. And those powerful groups happen to be gangs. In a sort of strange warlordism Sunrise City has remained standing due to a truce between the largest gangs (which is set to expire) and the Municipality which happens to be another gang with more official clothing.
Players can form guild-like groups called Gangs themselves an act that opens up a wide variety of community-oriented elements of the game including a hideout (i.e. player housing) communal stash (a sort of storage) and delivers access to crafting supplies tools and capabilities not easily come by without the resources of a group to deliver them.
Since a great deal of the game happens to be tied up in running missions and PvP is a strong motivator to form teams CrimeCraft has worked also to give Gangs perks for joining together in PvP matches. In fact Tournaments and Gang reputation will hinge on different Gangs abilities to work together as a team forge groups and a future patch will probably introduce a PvP and tournament ladder for Gangs to show off their mad skills against one another.
One aspect of reputation and community in the game also coming with a future patch happens to be the concept of being the best-of-the-best and receiving accolades for that. Not only will players who spend a lot of time holding the top spots in the game through crafting PvE PvP and sheer talent receive notoriety within the game special titles and possibly pieces of armor?but the top 10 will get recognition like none other. Number badges representing their position in the top 10 will appear over their heads in the game world and so that the mere-mortals around them can bask in their glory they will appear on the zone maps with those numbers glowing over their heads.
CrimeCraft is a freemium type game with a subscription (at $4.00/mo) and a cash shop that players can purchase rare or unique in-game items for tokens. While most games suffice themselves to sell only aesthetic changing items in the cash shop CrimeCraft goes all the way by offering bonuses on clothing items that add skill points and entire sets of gear that would take a normal player a week or more to earn in PvE and PvP matches. It?s hard to tell how cash shop items stand up against crafted items but it seems that they?re comparable.
Item prices seem fairly stable and they?re not gouging players 550 gold bars runs at $25.00. A skill point costs about 20 gold bars so for the price of around $6.36 you can learn to use a rocket launcher without having to level for those skill points (that?s 7 to be exact.) BleedOut episode 4 only costs 40 gold bars (about $1.82). Or go really expensive with one of the packs like the Deadeye Pack (a bunch of armor guns and ammo for the extremely hardcore shooter) at 600 gold bars (run you about $27.27.
In all the cash shop interface and the ability to purchase gold bars to buy stuff seems like a good way for them to make money from the freemium model and it gives users the ability to up their ante against the AI bots and other players as well.
CrimeCraft doesn?t represent the pinnacle that FPS MMO playing could give us with the technology we have on hand but it?s an excellent example of what a free-to-play FPS MMO should be. It?s highly accessible has a decent number of people playing provides a solid narrative and mission structure an immersive world and a lot of reasons to keep playing.
Will it be for everyone? Not likely hard core FPS fans will probably find the gameplay a little bit tedious because it?s geared towards MMO and collecting and crafting items actually plays a lot into the survivability of your character but those are the social aspects. People who have friends who might be into this sort of thing with benefit hugely from having their friends to play with as support in PvE matches and perhaps even go on the same team with PvP matches.
In conclusion Vogster has created an excellently presented FPS MMO with CrimeCraft I enjoyed the Bleedout narrative storytelling and missions. As this is a free-to-play game and if you already like FPS games and end-of-civilization stories you should really download it and try it out yourself.