With the fantasy genre covered by World of WarCraft, and sci-fi covered by the upcoming Star Wars: The Old Republic, the MMO market is nearly spoken for. So naturally, developers are branching out to try and find which genres can work in the ever-popular sphere of massive multiplayer online games. CrimeCraft: Bleedout, which is the expansion pack to Vogster Entertainment's 2009 CrimeCraft, attempts to combine third-person shooting with MMO gameplay. However, the result is a game that somehow feels both uncreative and too ambitious at the same time.
Right off the bat, it is obvious that CrimeCraft isn't really an MMO. In fact, Vogster doesn't even classify it as an MMO. They refer to it as a "PWNS", a Persistent World Next-generation Shooter. Unlike in a traditional MMO, where you get to travel to different zones and explore the world, CrimeCraft is completely instanced. Sunrise City, where the game takes place, acts as a lobby where you can talk to people, buy weapons and accessories, and craft items. When you actually want to get into the action, you need to talk to an Overseer, who will enter you into a combat zone, which can be either PvE (Player versus Enviroment) or PvP (Player versus Player).
The PvP zones are the most enjoyable, simply because you're playing against other real people. The gameplay in CrimeCraft is that of a standard third-person shooter, with the WASD keys controlling your characters, and the mouse being used to aim and fire your weapon. There are plenty of different types of matches, ranging from Snatch N' Grab (Capture the Flag) to Shootout (Team Deathmatch) to Riot (Free For All).
Perhaps the best part of CrimeCraft's PvP system is how skill-based it is, rather than simply relying on character level and gear quality. For instance, a character who is level 25 can take down someone who is level 40 in a PvP match. It won't be easy, but completely possible. When high level characters enter a match with lower level characters, they are penalized accordingly. For instance, having their damage and HP reduced by 15%, in addition to having all their abilities decreased to level 1. This not only makes the game more fair, but it also means that you don't have to play the game for hundreds of hours in order to stay competitive something not even WoW has been able to accomplish.
The PvE, on the other hand, is a complete snore fest. Missions you get from NPCs are carried out in the same fashion as PvP matches, except they are just against AI bots. Really, really stupid AI bots. They just walk around, oftentimes completely oblivious to your presence, until you shoot them in the face. There are different types of missions, but all are equally boring. For instance, in an escort mission, you essentially fight your way to one end of a map, pick up an NPC, and bring them to the starting point, all while murdering helpless bots. And you'll often have other players in the same instance with you, but there isn't really any cooperation going on. They are just kind of... there.
And the missions themselves are pretty boring, with dull objectives and poorly written dialogue. You can get additional jobs from payphones that can be completed in any mission, such as kill 100 enemies with an assault rifle, but they don't add much depth. There are some pretty cool comic book-styled cutscenes that go along with the episodic content of Bleedout; however, the non-existent story is not compelling enough to care about.
If you're bored of PvP and PvE, the only other outlet for you is crafting. There are four professions available in CrimeCraft: tailoring, weaponry, engineering, and chemistry. Crafting is simple enough, and is the best way to customize your character, as well as the best way to pass time when just sitting in the lobby.
The visuals of CrimeCraft are great. Environments are nice looking, and well-detailed. Characters, on the whole, look good, although animations can get wonky at times. The audio isn't quite as pleasing. The sound effects sound tinny and unimpressive, and during matches, there is no music playing... just eerie silence. The sound design just feels like it was forgotten about, and tacked on at the last minute.
In the end, CrimeCraft is kind of a mixed bag. It's not very creative: the gameplay is fun, but incredibly standard. And Vogster's attempts at including PvE in a "PWNS" can be seen as ambitious, but also as a colossal failure. Nonetheless, there is some fun to be had in CrimeCraft, especially if you don't have hundreds of hours of spare time.