It’s not every day we get titles that deviate from the normal, everyday sports or action titles. This couldn’t be more so for first-person shooters, as time and time again, developers release titles that follow the same gameplay formula, with little to differentiate between each other. This is probably why Breakdown got as much hype as it did, is because it "attempted" to stray away from normality and create something different from the rest of the pack. Namco must be commended for taking the risk to create something different, but does it pay off? Read on.
Breakdown is a title that starts off with a quite heavy usage of the storyline, and progresses gradually with gameplay elements. The game begins with you, Derrick, waking up in a laboratory with no memory of anything before that point. You will take the role of saving the world (how original) from the mutant known as T’Lan. First off let’s just say Breakdown doesn’t do a whole lot for the game. It has some interesting characteristics to it, but as a whole the story seems way too much like every other game. The amnesia plot device has been used to death in so many games and movies, from Headhunter and XIII to Memento and The Bourne Identity.
You start the game with the story, which incorporates to a little bit of a tutorial mode for a good ten minutes. This is a perfect way for you to become accustomed to the controls of Breakdown. For those of you who aren’t sure what exactly Breakdown is, well it’s a First Person Action title. During the tutorial you will learn all the maneuvers you will need to be successful throughout the game. This includes punching, kicking, blocking, combinations, and the use of a gun. All can be done quite easily, and are all very easy with the simplistic controls.
Once you get through the useful tutorial mode the game’s story starts to come together and it leaves you right in the middle of the action. This is one of those game’s that shows so much potential at first, but as you begin to progress through this game you will find more and more of its shortcomings.
One of the biggest things you will find after sitting down and playing Breakdown is that it does nothing exceptionally well. The game is a first person action game at its core, and yet the game doesn’t ever try to strive for anything more then average. You are given a few different moves without the gun in hand. These moves include basic punching and kicking and different combinations, but doing these combos’s throughout the actual game itself are extremely difficult. Mainly because the computer AI is just downright dumb it is really quite difficult to pull off these combo’s. It is quite disappointing that Namco didn’t do more with the AI, which just comes running after you like headless chickens, not having any clue of what they should be doing, which is something I did not expect to see when Breakdown was finally released.
As you progress in the game you will earn new abilities that will make the combat system more exciting then it starts out to be. These powerup’s really bring the game some much needed life at the midway point of the game, but as you start to get to the end the game just starts to take a tail end spiral for the worse and becomes quite repetitive.
On the face Breakdown looks like it could be a game we might be talking about for months to come. But after really looking forward to this game and being let down quite a bit by its over simplistic gameplay, I must say Namco didn’t take advantage of some of their ideas with this one. It is a sci-fi action title that has the potential to play out really well, but just can’t make it all come together in the end. The game hosts some new refreshing ideas, and my only hope is that future titles will come through where Breakdown did not.
With a first person title, I have found that it seems like it is much harder for developers to make these type of titles look better then it is in any other genre. As you look at Breakdown you see a title that really doesn’t look great but does a decent job all the way around.
The environments of Breakdown vary as you go through the game. Some of the environments are rich with detail, as others could be using a facelift. Enemies don’t look overly great, with some detail, but most of them appearing pretty generic throughout the game.
Overall looking at Breakdown there isn’t much to the game’s graphics, which are average at best, and truly just do the bare minimum to keep that status of being average.
With a First Person Action title it usually isn’t to hard to make it fun, just vary up the gameplay, increase the difficulty of the game as you go along, and create an interesting storyline. Well the story is there in Breakdown, and the game does get more difficult as the game progresses, but the gameplay stays the same the whole time, which isn’t a good thing. Looking at Breakdown you see a game with plenty of potential that starts off fun, but ends up being just one of those games you would rather take back than complete.
Breakdown shows some great concepts, and has the potential to become a great game, but just fails to get its feet out of the mud. The gameplay could have been way better, with the computer AI really being to predictable, you find a game that just doesn’t have what it takes to hang with the big boy’s. If you are looking for a first person action title you might just want to rent this one, it’s probably not worth the purchase.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.