The folks at Vogster Entertainment have had their hands full over the past few months, and rightfully so. CrimeCraft came to the frontlines of the video game market at the beginning of September, its glossy package design promising 'gripping, action-packed shootouts' and 'role-playing elements exclusive to today's hottest MMO games.' So, what have they delivered in those two months?
The most notable change has been the price tag. Initially fifty dollars, the game now ranges in the thirty dollar range at retail, with a free version available. That fact alone is enough to be suspicious (or even cautious) of the title, but it wouldn't be entirely fair to assume it's because the game is bad, especially with the floundering economy taking its toll on gamers across the globe. Right?
Eh, not really.
The thirty dollars you initially spend on CrimeCraft will seem like a steal in your favor, primarily when you factor in that the cover charge gets you two months of free play, a special discount card for vendors within the game, a bonus backpack for extra storage, and a five dollar Collector Card worth a few gold bars that are used for in-game micro-transactions. This might have been perfect for a free-to-play game (which CrimeCraft was initially speculated to be), but Vogster has since gone the route of charging a monthly subscription, which will only serve to take a few more smackaroos out of your trusty wallet. Therefore, that price-drop for the game no longer seems to be a simple gesture in the player's favor, but more like a desperate move for a potentially floundering game. Did I say 'potentially'? I meant 'probably'.
The basic concept of CrimeCraft seems like a win-win; the United States has dissolved into a world of terror, crime and chaos, where only the walled-in cities survive with some protection. Players must make a name for themselves in the world, hopefully securing a worthy position in a gang and doing whatever it takes to survive. Unfortunately, even from the game's package it seems like Vogster might be trying to tackle the massively-multiplayer online market with a teddy bear; for instance, they call their game a Persistent World Next-Gen Shooter and then dub it 'PWNS'. Trying a bit too hard, are we?
When you actually get into the world of CrimeCraft you will notice two primary truths. Truth Number One: You will not be committing any crimes. Secondly, you will feel more like a victim than a criminal when faced down by the hundreds of advertisements lining building facades, street-signs, and the occasional hanging awning. Seriously, the only way Vogster could have taken the real-world advertising further would have been by draping a sash across the shoulders of every player, one that read "Alienware" or "AMD". It's disturbing to think that even after the initial cost of the game, the micro-transactions that require real-world money to purchase in-game gold bars, and the subscription fee, Vogster still requires support from what seems like every technology-associated company on the planet. While we've been told that Vogster put these ads in the game for their partners in development, marketing, and distribution, they are still an eyesore to say the least.
Fortunately, CrimeCraft does a few things right, and those are in the gameplay itself. The role-playing elements in CC are nothing to write home about, but for the occasional player that likes to customize every little detail and spend countless hours working for just the right weapon, they'll do. You'll get four primary choices of crafting skills, including tailoring, chemistry, engineering and gunsmithing. Throughout player-versus-player (PVP) battles and player-versus-environment (PVE) instances, you will be able to obtain crafting items that can be blended with others to create better weapons, boosts, clothing and ammunition.
Other than the crafting, however, the world of CrimeCraft does not feel like a standard-fare RPG at all. You will have a specific areas in which you'll spend most of your game time, appropriately dubbed 'lobbies', and if you're not running around completing the slew of available quests, crafting, or waiting in a queue for the next PVP or PVE battle, you won't be doing much else.
Probably the highlight of the game, the shooter mechanics are dead-on, and despite the uninteresting PVE encounters, the PVP elements are up-to-par. There won't be any jumping in CrimeCraft, which is a catch-22 because you won't have to deal with 'bunny-hopping' players, but will have to grit your teeth in frustration at not being able to jump over a ledge that a baby would have no problem crawling over. Of course, the 'bunny-hopping' factor doesn't really matter considering players will be able to roll instead, making it just as difficult to melee-attack or shoot them.
Visually, CrimeCraft doesn't compare to most of the games available on the market today, but it's not graphically-challenged by any means. The designers have put a bit of thought into the level design, focusing on an array of features that spark some life into the different maps. Most of these will go unnoticed, though, as you'll more than likely be spending most of your time rolling and shooting.
Now, CrimeCraft is available as a free-to-play version, but, as you might expect, there's very little offered. You'll get to explore the main mechanics of the game, primarily the combat system and the first few quests, but you won't get much else. Crafting is disabled for any unsubscribed player, and most of the extra features like abilities and weapon attachments are also blocked. Except for the crafting, what you get out of the trial version of CrimeCraft is really all you're going to get, so if it isn't suiting your needs while you're playing for free, it's probably not going to do it for you while you're paying for it. The free version is good for an occasional shooter-fest, but beyond that it feels more like a slap in the face.
If Vogster had decided to make the game entirely free-to-play, CrimeCraft might be considered worth its thirty-dollar price-tag. Unfortunately, with its inclusion of a subscription fee and a micro-transaction system that nets players little more than novelty items, the upfront cost doesn't feel worth it. And that's not even mentioning the multitude of ads that pop up wherever the player goes, something that should shame Vogster to no end. The developers have a lot of work to put into the game if they expect it to be a competitor with the tried and true MMO's lining the field, and with the fresh ban in Australia for the game's drug use and so on, there's only more work on their plates.
If you're looking for a game that focuses on customizable shoot-em-up gameplay, and little else, CrimeCraft might be your bag, baby. However, if you're looking for something more in the RPG market or a game that will keep you entertained for months to come, CrimeCraft most likely won't lead you to trade in that shimmering broadsword for an automatic assault rifle.