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 SaigonTime plays the CrimeCraft beta, frowns a lot.

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SaigonTimeMD
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PostSubject: SaigonTime plays the CrimeCraft beta, frowns a lot.   Tue Aug 04, 2009 11:27 am

Unless you've been living under a rock for a while, you've probably at least HEARD of Crime Craft, an upcoming MMO from THQ. But what IS Crime Craft (besides a really retarded name) exactly? Here's how it's described in the site's own words:

"Crime Craft is a Persistent World Next-gen Shooter (PWNS) that blends a gripping, action-packed shooter experience with the best community and role-playing elements found in massively multi-player games. Crime Craft is set in a gritty fictional city of the near future, following an ecological disaster of unprecedented scale, where the price of life is far less valuable than one’s reputation. Join thousands of players online as you learn the rules of the street, build your own gang and do whatever it takes to survive amidst the chaos. Earn a reputation. Build a gang. Kill the competition."

Sounds pretty cool, right? Like Fallout meets Saints Row? Well, that was my thought anyway. As excited as I am for APB, I couldn't pass up a chance on some urban warfare, Mad Max-style. So is CC a 'Persistent World Next-gen Shooter that blends a gripping, action-packed shooter experience with the best community and role-playing elements found in massively multi-player games?'

The short answer is this: "No." If you want the long answer, keep reading.

Before I get started, though, keep this in mind: what I was playing is a BETA build, but since the game itself is already slated to hit store shelves in a little less than three weeks, this is damn close to a final, polished version of the game. That being said, it still IS a BETA build, so things I mention may be changed by the time the game comes out on retail.

Enough with that, let's get on to the droning and ranting. I'll start off describing my experience for the first few hours or so of the game:

After logging in, I was prompted to create a character. I chose a name (SaigonTime), then went to the customization screen...and was promptly kneed in the balls. As I would eventually realize, Crime Craft is one of those games that seems to purposefully disappoint the user at every possible turning point, and the creation screen was the first step down that long, dark tunnel that nothing good ever comes out of. To be blunt, Crime Craft has customization options that would make any Free2Play (god I hate typing that phrase) MMO's system look like Saints Row 2. The magic number seems to be five: five available faces, five skin colors, five bleached-out clothing colors. And everyone starts with the same generic clothing style as well, which means the starting area is filled with people in the same jeans and t-shirt (or jeans and sweatshirt if you're a lady) that you are, instantly removing any sense of individuality or importance from the player. Most MMOs at least give you some sense of 'you are special' when first starting off at least, rather than forcing you to be satisfied as another clone.

After stumbling around, lost, for literally a half hour, a dev sent me a message to talk to one of the 'same face same outfit different name' officers patrolling the starting area. When I asked him (or her) how to do that, they told me to face the guy and left-click. No targeting, no highlighting, no nothing. While it was quite awkward at first, being used to the WoW, City of Heroes/Villians and Warhammer Online format of communication, I've found it to ultimately be one of the pleasing things about Crime Craft, a rarity looking on how convoluted the game's interface is (but I'll get to that in a bit).

After I opened communication with the officer, my screen was suddenly invaded with all manner of silver boxes and tiny buttons with no labels until I hovered my mouse over them for more than ten seconds. An MMO lives and dies by its accessability, and unless Crime Craft does some serious revamping, it ain't gonna live long: the entireity of the left screen is taken up by a character profile showing your avatar and a bunch of meters with, again, no labels. The right side of the screen is taken up by the briefing, as well as a rather boring inventory screen.

The officer, in English that would've gotten someone who worked at a Korean-gone-American/UK MMO a promotion, told me to go kill a 'Rogue.' Well, I didn't know what a Rogue was in this world, but I was sure I'd find one and kill the hell out of it. So I clicked 'accept.' And then the 'accept' button went gray. And then nothing else happened. I spent five minutes clicking various things to see if I'd accepted the quest or not, but I couldn't for the life of me tell. So I closed the box with the officer, only to see another one come up with two tabs, one marked 'missons,' the other marked 'jobs.' So what was it I had just accepted, a mission or a job? What was the difference? How was I supposed to tell? I had not been this confused with an MMO's interface since I got drunk off my ass and decided that trying out Perfect World would be a great idea. After I while, I figured out it was a mission, a mission to go kill a Rogue. So I looked around for one for about fifteen minutes, then gave up and went back to wandering. However, I had no clue where I was going, so I checked the minimap...which actually shows you LESS of your surroundings than simply looking around does. So I just headed for a building with bright lights...which was just a placeholder. So I headed for another building...which was also just a 'glass doors with nothing inside' affair.

After a while, I finally found the clothes vendor. I was pretty sick of my digs, so why not get some actually interesting clothes, right? Well, let's see here, the cheapest pair of pants is...$2,500. It's the end of the world as we know it, and I am expected to pay $1,500 for a pair of pants. My frustration was building.

Eventually I found out that Rogues are Crime Crafts 'enemy' faction, being those that reside outside of Sunrise City and want to get in. I also eventually found out that you can just jump into combat at any time by pressing 'U' and then selecting a lobby, similar to Combat Arms and Exteel, except not as fun, more vague, and uglier. However, for all it's 'civilian' shortcomings, I knew that what would ultimately decide Crime Craft's worthiness would be its mixture of FPS and RPG, of which I was fairly excited about after watching videos of the gameplay.

Crime Craft's combat sequences are divided up into two sections like most MMORPGs: PvE and PvP. There are quite a few maps for each mode, and some are shared between them:

Turf War - control point, but less fun, as the points take roughly two minutes to switch even with the entire team standing on them.

Snatch N' Grab - or Why Couldn't We Just Call It CTF.

Robbery - a CTF variation that had so much potential; instead of taking a single flag, you try to clean out the opposition's bank and take the cash back to your base. However, you really can't take any more than three or four dollars at a time since taking the money requires you to STAND IN ONE PLACE. And we all know how that ends.

Shootout - team deathmatch.

Riot - regular deathmatch.

Safeguard - defend a weapon cache against wave after wave of mindless bots. Probably the most entertaining mode.

Stockpile - wander around confusing, nonlinear maps picking up boxes with shit in them to sell while killing mindless bots that can't hit the broad side of a barn. Also, a 'boss' with a sniper rifle spawns after two minutes and makes life very difficult for the rest of the fifteen minute match.

However, all the imaginative game modes in the world won't make up for a shoddy combat system and, unfortunately, that's exactly what Crime Craft has. The damage is one of the most unforgiving models I've ever encountered; you start off with 120 life, but it really doesn't matter, because it only takes about three or four shots to kill you, and that's if the person shooting ISN'T a significantly higher level than you are. On the other end of things, at level 2, you can empty an entire SMG into into a level 14 player, and they can turn around and 2-shot you with a pistol and health to spare -- oh, and there doesn't seem to be any sort of 'level boundaries,' meaning that, quite often, low-level players will end up in the same matches as level 30+ players, essentially turning into a shooting gallery for the higherups regardless of level. With each match, it becomes easier for the people on top to stay there, and it becomes more and more difficult for new players to make any sort of headway, and in a game where the level cap evidently extends past 100, the gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' will only grow more and more drastic. BUT WAIT, IT GETS BETTER.

Not since the days of vanilla Counter Strike have I seen such a bad case of 'same primary and secondary weapons as the rest of the people playing the game, let alone on the server-itis.' In this case, it's an upgraded automatic assault rifle and an XBOXHUEG pistol. Note I don't give them names, because they're all fictional weapons that look like someone imported the Lancer from Gears of War into 3D Studio Max and got drunk...then decided that white would be a great color for a gun. For all guns. Forever. There are lots of different weapon types (not that it matters):

Pistols - utter shit, except for the big one, which more or less shoots Mack trucks.
SMGs - you start off with one of these, but no one uses them. Why? Because the recoil is so god-awfully 'realistic' that the only reason you'd even think about using a fully-upgraded top-of-the-line one would be if you were trying to kill the CEILING.
Shotguns - the only people that use these are (a) idiots trying to hit you with it from across the map or (b) jerks who played Gears of War and know about the 'roll next to your enemy and blow him up when you're not even facing him' shotgun bug. Luckily they're so busy rolling around that you can run away or simply shoot them in the back with your assault rifle.
Assault Rifles - everyone uses the most expensive automatic one. The other two either (a) suck or (b) act as a glorfied, large pistol that only fires a shot when you pull the trigger.
Sniper Rifles - CrimeCraft, like every online shooter, is full of campers. As many of CrimeCraft's maps fall into the 'brown city' category that 75% of shooters fall into, it's disturbingly easy to just sit in a corner and disappear. All rifles are 1-hit kill weapons regardless of where they hit you; luckily, many of Crime Craft's players appear to be hardcore casuals, and would rather run around spamming assault rifle fire than sitting in a corner like a little bitch. Also, the cheapest sniper rifle costs around 3k-4k, which means about a week or two of dedicated grinding.
Heavy Weapons - Consists of Large Machine Guns, Rocket Launchers and Grenade Launchers. The heavy weapons are all insanely overpowered: LMGs put a lot of metal down range at a very fast pace, can kill in two or three hits and have a starting magazine of 100. Rocket Launchers can singlehandedly wipe out an entire team, as can Grenade Launchers. Splash damage is one of the worst factors of Crime Craft, and the air is almost always filled with the little bastards -- I occasionally had flashbacks to Call of Duty there was so much explosive spam. And the range on it is pretty nasty too; if you can SEE the grenade, chances are it's gonna kill you. Luckily, heavy weapons require (a) special training to use that you get from some random guy that no one knows the location of and (b) a deep, DEEP wallet. HWs run from 7k-10k, which could take you a month or more of constant playing to buy even if you're not buying any $1,500 pants.

But none of that really matters much, because while YOU can't kill anyone with anything, EVERYONE can kill YOU quite easily.

As for the RPG elements...I tried to decipher them. I really did. There's abilities and perks you can buy to give you insane legups on the competition (like FLIGHT and TURNING INVISIBLE), but you buy them with points that you don't know how to get and are never given a number of in the first place. There's also a crafting system for stuff like medication, guns and clothing, but it's fairly lackluster, though it DOES let you bypass some of the absolutely ridiculous vendor fees...and then sell the stuff you make on the auction hou-err, stock exchange for twice of what people would pay for it in store. It's worse than Warhammer Online's system, so that should give you a good idea of how boring it is.

Now that the specifics are out of the way, I have some serious ideological gripes about the game.

For starters, what the fuck is with the name? CRIME CRAFT? First of all, it comes across as a World of Warcraft cash-in. Second of all, there is no crime involved in the game, and very little craft; while you CAN form street gangs, these gangs work in concert with what remains of the city police force in order to preserve whatever semblance of society that Sunrise is trying to hold together. And speaking of society, apparently the only people still alive in Sunrise are either police officers, frat boys and gossip girls. Honestly, if I'm running around in a post-apocalyptic city and I'm a girl, I'm NOT going to be wearing high heels, designer jeans and something called a 'Sassy Hat.' It's like someone tried to combine Fallout and APB (before the latter has even come out), except that someone happened to be a Banana Republic executive. The maps, while visually drab, DO give a good 'bombed-out city' atmosphere and are one of the game's stronger points, having people who look like they're ready to go out clubbing as the ones populating them just feels ten kinds of wrong.

Final impressions: CrimeCraft feels like an overly ambitious foray into the MMO world that's going to be released at least six months ahead of when it should be, most likely in an effort to soften the impact of APB, Realtime Worlds' (Grand Theft Auto series, Lemmings) upcoming free third-person cops-and-robbers MMO, similarly to the way the movie Antz was released about a month before Pixar's A Bug's Life came out (though in this case it doesn't quite work because both Antz and A Bug's Life were kickass movies). Too often games with a great deal of potential come out way before their time just because an executive or two gets worried about an upcoming, seemingly-superior game put out by a superior company, and it's disappointing to see CrimeCraft become a victim of such a syndrome. THQ is offering french fries, while Realtime Worlds appears to be offering garlic mashed potatoes. At least I didn't have to pay for that fast food.

Final grade: C- to D. CrimeCraft isn't such an overall BAD game as it is simply disappointing and unfinished, but if it's released in even close to the condition it's in, I wouldn't have a difficult time seeing the game last a year or less, especially since THQ will be charging monthly for it. Why bother with a monthly subscription when you can go play Combat Arms for slightly better gameplay, none of the annoying shallow parts, and no monthly fee? I honestly wouldn't expect anyone to pay the monthly fee, but people probably will. However, the confusing RPG elements and the unforgivingcore, cheap FPS elements will probably turn even more people off.

If you're interested in trying out CrimeCraft for yourself, you can get into the open beta here: http://www.crimecraft.com/
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PostSubject: Re: SaigonTime plays the CrimeCraft beta, frowns a lot.   Tue Aug 04, 2009 1:34 pm

I am dissapoint
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PostSubject: Re: SaigonTime plays the CrimeCraft beta, frowns a lot.   Tue Aug 04, 2009 5:36 pm

I read that word for word, each paragraph 2-4 times, and loved it.
Thank you for saving me weeks of frustrated invested time in a not-so-great game.
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SaigonTimeMD
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PostSubject: Re: SaigonTime plays the CrimeCraft beta, frowns a lot.   Tue Aug 04, 2009 9:10 pm

Speaking of Betas...I'm downloading the Huxley beta right now, gonna fuck about with that for a while.
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PostSubject: Re: SaigonTime plays the CrimeCraft beta, frowns a lot.   Wed Aug 05, 2009 8:48 pm

Thank you for sparing me a second time. You had told me once how frustrated you were with it
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PostSubject: Re: SaigonTime plays the CrimeCraft beta, frowns a lot.   Thu Aug 06, 2009 7:33 am

BTW that was the most consecutive words I've read in a year.
And I liked it.

Do you have any tattoos on your butt?
Let me read them.
While I am in that area, bend over. :3
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PostSubject: Re: SaigonTime plays the CrimeCraft beta, frowns a lot.   Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:29 am

study Oh hey, I was just reading my book and... Whats this?!
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PostSubject: Re: SaigonTime plays the CrimeCraft beta, frowns a lot.   Thu Aug 06, 2009 8:53 pm

xexes wrote:
BTW that was the most consecutive words I've read in a year.
And I liked it.

Do you have any tattoos on your butt?
Let me read them.
While I am in that area, bend over. :3

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