Breakdown (XBX) – Initial Impressions

As a short diversion between RPGs and other games soon to be out, I pulled out a cheap pickup of Breakdown.  An original Xbox title now playable through backwards compatibility on the 360, it’s a first person shooter that takes the “first person” concept to nearly as far as it can go without wrecking the fun of the game.  For one, while there is shooting and other weapons, you quickly become more involved with using melee combat to get past difficult foes, so you can swing one-two punches and upper cuts.   Certain actions not shown in many FPS are forced on the player; you have to actually reach down to pick up ammo from dead soldiers or objects from the ground, and when you reach security doors, you need to pull out a security card and then swip it to get through.  These actions aren’t overly trivialized – they’re just long enough that it’s risky to do them in the heat of battle; that is, the game prevents you, as you likely would in real life, from running to a dead soldier to grab their ammo while a gun fight is blazing because of the time it takes, as opposed to many FPS where you can do this as part of the game.  It may seem a bit silly at first, but it actually works pretty well once you start getting into the midgame.

The game is unfortunately very bland in the graphics department.  All the levels have been rectangular hallways so far with minimal decoration, and though while I’m still in a building, it would have helped to have some diagonals as needed.  There was at least one interesting point as per the character gaining memories, I stepped out momentarily into a desert region (possibly part of some hallucination) while still in the middle of the building, to return to find that it likely never existed.  But even there in the desert, there wasn’t much different to look at.

It’s also the type of game where I wish they spent a bit more time thinking about checkpoints (the only points that you can restart your game after game over or a save game load); there’s been a few that have had a semi-difficult fight followed by a rather hard one which, should you fail the hard one, you have to repeat both fights.  I know the idea of quicksaves/loads isn’t really good for FPSs, but it would help with as distant the fighting portions are in this game, to err on the side of more checkpoints.

Definitely no big rush to finish this, but definitely one to finish.