Breakdown (Namco) - Xbox Review

Breakdown

RalliSport Challenge 2  Xbox Review

Breakdown (Namco) Xbox Review

Breakdown in essence is a first person action shooter title. I know what you are thinking, oh no, not another one. There is no shortage of first person action titles out there, over the years certain games have cut through the quagmire and taken this saturated genre to new levels. Half Life would be a good example of this. So, is Namco's latest offering Breakdown a leader or just another follower? What brings originality to tired formats is stunning new ideas new twists on old ways of doing things. Breakdown definitely brings new ideas to the table, but fails to execute them without affecting the flow of the game.

In game you play as Derrick Cole, an ill-fated soldier who wakes up in a space aged laboratory, completely devoid of memory. Just as he begins to get an idea of his identity, where he is and what is going on, the lab is suddenly attacked by a group of elite soldiers. Just as Derrick is about to be shot, he is miraculously rescued by a mysterious woman named Alex. It is fair to say that Breakdown's story from here

Breakdown (Namco)  Xbox Review

Breakdown (Namco)  Xbox Review

Breakdown (Namco)  Xbox Review

on in mainly revolves around Derrick rediscovering his true identity, learning about his role as the accidental participant of an experiment that gave him extraordinary super human powers, and unearthing the mystery surrounding a race of superhuman warriors known as the T'Lan, who are trying to take over your world.

Breakdown wears its story inspirations on its sleeve. The game is very much Half-Life, both in its basic plot and how the story builds. This isn't necessarily a bad place to draw inspiration from, but Breakdown really doesn't do an especially good job telling its story.

The main issue here is the main character of Derrick. Derrick is supposedly an amnesiac, and yet, he comes across as the least inquisitive man ever to walk the Earth. Apart from a few instances where characters will ask Derrick direct questions--in which he is given the choice of two answers--Derrick never really attempts to work out what's happening around him, no matter how weird things get. Instead, the game simply goes out of its way to explain everything to you through cut-scenes that appear too frequently. While you are get the information you need through this method, it gives the story an irritating stop start feel that really does hamper the flow of game-play. Additionally, the plot itself never really goes anywhere particularly interesting, and in fact, it becomes downright silly toward the later portions of the game. What is unique about this game is the sensory elements that have been added. These too are seen through cut-scenes but with the view being first person anyway the switch to cut-scene is pretty seamless. These scenes include hallucinations, vomiting into a toilet and falling off the top of buildings. To my knowledge these are unique elements & do add to the game-play but fail to stop the boredom setting in after a while.

Combat is how you will progress through Breakdown. You will be required to engage in both hand to hand and weapon based combat situations. Unfortunately, neither combat style is particularly compelling. Derrick has a fair arsenal of kick and punch combos and also a few lunge moves which derive from his super-human abilities. Weapon based combat is also dull. This is due to the ineffectiveness of the very limited list of weapons. I could go on a big downer about the weapons and how useless certain ones are.but I won't.

Breakdown (Namco)  Xbox Review
Breakdown (Namco)  Xbox Review
Breakdown (Namco)  Xbox Review
Breakdown (Namco)  Xbox Review

Graphically Breakdown isn't setting any new standards and borrows a hell of a lot from other sci-fi sources. The frame rate remains steady throughout the game but with little in the way of action on screen it would be hard not to stay steady. The only time the graphics really come to life is in the cut-scenes. This simply isn't good enough, these days. Having said this on the other hand there is nothing wrong with the look and feel of the game. It just isn't original enough.

Sound-wise Breakdown isn't too bad. All the gun sounds are very well done and the background ambience sets the mood very well without being too intrusive. The dialogue featured is decent too, with the actors managing to bring life to quite a flat script.

Overall Breakdown isn't breaking out of the mold. If you have played and completed all the classic first person shooters I don't think there is going to be much here for you to enjoy. On the other hand, if you are new to the genre and are looking to buy a first person title, Breakdown offers quite a well rounded package that may tempt you to wander around some more derelict labs looking for aliens to frag.

7 out of 10

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