CrimeCraft is a Free-to-Play/Subscription hybrid gang-theme “PWNS” (Persistent World Next-generation Shooter) developed by Vogster Entertainment and published by THQ. The game came out in 2009 and so if you haven’t heard of it until now and think it looks like an APB clone, you’d be wrong. In fact, the game shares more in common with Global Agenda than it does with APB. Vogster recently released a new episodic content expansion called “Bleedout” which is being rolled out on a weekly basis and just saw the release of Episode 6.
CrimeCraft’s basic gameplay consists of queuing up for either PvE or PvP maps and gamemodes from whatever lobby area (or hub city) you happen to be in, and then participating in a combination of third person and first person shooter gameplay (with a helping of RPG thrown in) that is very much team focused. Curiously, jumping is not possible in CrimeCraft, though players may roll by pressing the spacebar.
Customization and Development
CrimeCraft starts you out with a fairly bare character creation process in which you can choose from either a male or female character, choose from a basic selection of clothing options, and select your face, hair, etc. Customization doesn’t end there though, as there is a wealth of clothing options available in the game, and the cash shop offers several additional options for the extra vain (such as myself) to make use of, including special face masks, the ability to re-pick your face, adjust your hair and skin color, and even visually customize your existing clothing.
Outside of the vanity customization, CrimeCraft features an RPG progression with levels, gear, and skills to develop your character. Characters can specialize in a variety of weapon types from light machine guns, to sniper rifles, to heavy weapons like grenade and rocket launchers, and more. The skill tree is fairly robust and players can equip up to three skills at once by level 30. Leveling up earns you skill points that you can use to rank up abilities spread across tiers (gated by level) and skills can range anywhere from passive abilities that make your character move silently while stealthed, to various explosives and ammo types, to fearsome rocket turrets, and really quite a bit more. Skills can be respec’d for a fee and you can even purchase (in the item shop) multiple profiles that allow for the use different sets of gear and skill loadouts.
On the gear side of things, CrimeCraft offers customizable weapons (sight, stock, barrel, trigger, and assorted modules), boosts and medicines that can be used a certain amount of times per life, and even augmentations. Augmentations or “augs” aren’t necessarily combat focused; some may provide bonus experience, increased rate of finding certain crafting components, improvements to certain boosts, and more.
Players can progress in both PvE and PvP by doing mission content or even earn experience through a “Jobs” system, which are basically a selection of passive tasks that can be taken and completed as you play through the game. For example, I was able to take a “Job” that simply involved me killing 10 enemies that are wielding Assault rifles. There are very general jobs such as the one I mentioned, jobs geared specifically towards PvE or PvP content, and some more very specific jobs. Up to 25 Jobs can be taken at one time, and each Job often has multiple ranks that offer even greater rewards. A combination of Jobs and PvE/PvP content is crucial to leveling at a decent clip, and they are a solid way of giving you mini short term goals to look out for.
Once I created my character I was started off in the game’s lengthy prologue, which aims to introduce you to CrimeCraft’s numerous game modes and mechanics. The prologue does a pretty good job at this, but it goes on for way too long (several hours in fact) and is as monotonous as it can get. In fact, were I not playing this for a review the prologue would surely turn me off to the game and make me quit. The “lobby” area you start in is fairly claustrophobic and the missions simply send you back to the same places over and over often doing fairly simple objectives, and this actually sets the tone for much of the game, but we’ll get into that more in a bit.
If you manage to survive the prologue with your brain cells intact you’ll finally make it to Sunrise City, which consists of three main hub sections, Oceanside, Midtown, and Downtown. For the purpose of this review I’m going to break things down into a PvE and PvP section, as the two sides of this game’s coin offer vastly different experiences.
PvE (The Bad News)
CrimeCraft features three basic PvE game types, Safeguard (players defend a weapon cache against enemy bots), Stockpile (players recover supplies scattered throughout the game map), and Headhunter (players are tasked with defeating an enemy Boss). These modes can be played as is, but the game also offers a mission structure with NPCs and quest lines that assign you tasks that take place within these game modes, which really doesn’t work out well for a number of reasons. For example, I’ve been on missions that have sent me off to a particular map to do something as simple as secure a single item placed on the map, and to do this I will have to queue up for that map, join, and basically ignore the game mode’s objective to pursue my own.
My PvE gameplay in the original game’s content was also basically gated by whether or not other players are playing the various maps, and since just about anyone joining these games could be on a variety of different tasks, many players are off doing any number of things and not necessarily caring about the map objective. If you’re interested in doing Safeguard just to do a Safeguard you may find that many of your “teammates” are simply there just to do a quest and will often leave once they’ve completed it. I also found myself with a number of quests I simply could not do as their associated maps would not “pop” when queued for since no one was playing them. This makes for a fundamentally flawed PvE experience. It’s often hard enough to get players to cooperate in PvE or PvP games, so having the quests also take place in the very same maps players might be queuing up for just to play in seems like a really odd choice.
Exacerbating the poor quest design is the fact the quests you are given are wildly inconsistent in challenge level. Some quests can be completed in less than 30 seconds, while some ludicrously difficult or tedious. The source of the inconsistent level of challenge is not mysterious however; as it largely has to do with CrimeCraft’s bot AI. Enemies have fairly large agro radii and can be incredibly annoying in their use of tactics and aiming. Worse than this is the way (and rate) the game spawns enemies. Enemies are scattered (or patrolling) all throughout a map, but CrimeCraft will also basically spawn enemies in front of you as you enter rooms, or even behind you, and they respawn very quickly. This makes for a very unpredictable experience where things can get really hairy really quickly, and if you die as a result you basically have to trudge through it all again due to the incredibly quick respawn rates.