2.08.2007

I Am the Law!

I am very, very excited for Crackdown, though I'll confess, I haven't played the demo yet. I could go on a rant about why I think it's a great concept (though I'm not yet convinced that it'll have much lasting appeal), but I want to talk about one design choice here - draw distance.
From what I've seen of the game, the draw distance is amazing. Each of the three islands is rather daunting, and from high points you can see straight across to the other side of the city. How was Realtime Worlds (the developer) able to achieve this? They sacrificed graphical quality. The game still looks great, but they made a conscious choice to choose a feature that would dramatically improve gameplay over graphics, which are too often treated with more importance than they sometimes deserve. Next-gen games use so much of their resources towards graphics (very successfully so, of course) that they end up sapping up a huge chunk of processing power that could be put towards better AI, frame rates, or load times.

It's great to see developers applying their new increased processors towards multiple facets of their games. When the 360 and PS3 were being discussed early on, I was concerned that most of the new power of the consoles would go into graphics, but last year was probably one of the strongest years for games we've seen in a while in terms of unique ideas, from Wii Sports to Okami to LocoRoco. It's yet another sign that the industry is getting more and more mature and diverse as it grows, which is nice to see, since it wouldn't be a stretch to worry about the industry's going mainstream showing us fewer and fewer creative, risky titles. I know Crackdown isn't a huge derivation from the sandbox formula, but it's the little things like that amazing draw distance that point to a culture of developers who are thinking on their feet about what is most important.
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