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Wolfgame
03-14-2004, 09:11 PM
I've never heard of the website, but here ya go
Breakdown


You mention a first-person shooter (FPS) to anyone and images of Doom®, Quake or one of the many hundreds of followers will immediately pop into the heads. You mention first-person adventure and resulting image becomes a bit more muddled. Games such as System Shock© and Deus Ex© helped to define this genre, but even now it still remains a somewhat nebulous concept. Perhaps that is because of our innate need to pigeon hole everything, be it a game or otherwise, into a pre-defined classification so that it can be more easily understood. The first-person adventure game type has not yet been fully fleshed out, as developers are still struggling to define the boundaries of what it means to count a game within a genre that deals with the mechanics laid out in the popular FPS genre, while setting these against a canvas of story telling, platforming and other sub genres. Namco®'s BreakdownTM is the latest title to be labeled a first-person adventure, and while it isn't perfect, this game makes many great strides to not only make a name for itself, but to also deliver a one-of-a-kind memorable experience wrapped up in an intriguing, yet bizarre story.

It begs to be said again, despite appearances to the contrary, Breakdown is not a first-person shooter. In fact, players will go entire stretches of the game without engaging in any sort of offensive situation. This is an adventure game with first-person shooter mechanics made available should the need arise. In fact, the shooting, hand-to-hand fighting and puzzle solving, all play second fiddle to the truly surreal story behind Breakdown. This game tells the story of Derrick Cole, a US soldier badly wounded in combat and revived thanks to secret experimentation. Derrick finally awakens in the Carter Research Centre, a US research facility located in Yokohama, unable to remember his past. It isn't long before things take a strange turn, soldiers raid the base and Derrick is unexpectedly rescued by a teleporting female soldier, Alex Henderson. But who is she and what is her relationship to Derrick? Both begin their escape from the research center and in so doing things begin to unravel in a surreal and sinister plot.

So what makes Breakdown so memorable? Well, for one thing it tries things that players have not seen before, thereby doing its best to shatter any expectations and preconceived notions laid out by players before tackling the experience. From shimmying across a ledge on the 15th floor of a high rise to tearing off a gas mask from a corpse so you can survive a crawl through a smoke filled hallway, Breakdown does its best to deliver the unexpected. And all of this is done in the first-person, as the game never leaves this perspective for a single moment. The ambitious nature of the developers shine at several points in the game such as these, and it is this that makes Breakdown such a joy to play. It has its problems, but as a total experience Breakdown is not to be missed.

Breakdown plays out as a sort of mixture of western and eastern cultures, with all manner of sci fi clichés littered about throughout the experience. There is a healthy dose of Half-Life in here, along with smatterings of the Matrix with all of its anime influences. Even the classic Towering Inferno seems to have played a part in Breakdown's genesis. This game keeps players guessing by constantly throwing out new situations, which in turn keeps players from getting too comfortable. One minute the game has them running through corridors gunning down military personnel and the next they are running for their lives and hiding from a mysterious stalker. And then there are the hallucinations, as the game continues, Derrick will often succumb to a series of abstract visions that will overtake his senses and reshape the game world. Players will find themselves juxtaposed in an unreal reality, and in a sense they will begin to feel as if they are experiencing this trip into madness right along with Derrick. Yet Breakdown manages to present a cohesive experience that is both original and entertaining.

There is a lot of variety within the game as well, as players will find themselves running through an office building, a vast dessert, underground bunkers and more. Those with the appropriate setup will be able to enjoy this with the game's 480p HDTV support as well. Unfortunately, the game never manages to conjure up anything visually stunning and repeated models and textures begin to make many areas look all too familiar. It is understandable that many of these areas' real life counterparts would share this repetitious nature, but a little variety here and there, such as one would see in a real life office building, would go a long way in improving the visual style of Breakdown. Additionally, a complete lack of environmental interactivity also hinders the otherwise immersive qualities in this game. For example, in the early goings players engage in several gunfights within in crowded offices, yet they are unable to kick over or otherwise move even the slightest chair or potted plant. These might as well be immovable brick walls that must be navigated around. Some interaction with the game's environments would have gone a long way towards further captivating players into the game world. Thankfully the sounds, be they
ambient noises, voice acting or music, all do their part to capture the moment in the most memorable sense.

A.I. is also a problem here, as enemies and allies will too often exhibit mental capacities that can only be described as laughable. Alex will often run into a battle and simply stand around content to be shot repeatedly. Likewise, opposing soldiers will too often find themselves being shot at, but will refuse to find any sort of cover. This A.I. seems to improve somewhat at the higher difficulty settings, but even then it is far below what is currently the benchmark in games today.

Overall Breakdown is a fantastic ride, with all of the highs and lows of a classic. There are areas for improvement but these are eclipsed by a terrific story and solid game mechanics. Like so many games of this type, such as Half-Life and System Shock 2, the story begins to fall apart a bit near the end but seeing as those two titles managed to deliver such fondly-remembered experience despite this shortcoming, there is no reason to hold a grudge against Breakdown. This is a wonderful, and on some levels an epic game, and one can only hope that this is not the last time we allowed a glimpse into the exploits of Derrik Cole.

Rating a 4 out of 5

AlphaCigara
03-14-2004, 10:06 PM
other reviews for it are

XBN Magazine 9 out of 10
Total Games Network 80 out of 100
NTSC UK 3 out of 10

you can read the reviews somewhere on here (http://gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/583052.asp) ;)

BoundBruiser
03-15-2004, 10:21 PM
I'm planning to rent Breakdown and the Suffering on Wed. I'll be busy for a while.

Unreal
03-15-2004, 10:48 PM
I plan on renting this game when it comes out :D

Wolfgame
03-16-2004, 09:26 AM
Of course Breakdown isn't out yet, but The SUffering is the best horror adeventure action game I've ever played, Silent Hill would be cowering in fear of this.