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Breakdown Review

Developer: Namco Publisher: Namco
Release Date: March 16, 2004 Also On: None

Breakdown is the first of its kind. It is the first, first-person shooter, of my knowledge, that has an extensive fighting system. In fact, the shooting takes a backseat to fighting in many of the game’s segments.

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Your name is Derrick Cole, and you wake up in a test laboratory in Japan, with no memory of who you are, what you’re doing there, and who the people that speak to you are. You are asked to get up and do some test exercises. In this, you learn the various controls. Derrick is controlled with the left thumb-stick and the camera moves with the right thumb-stick. Black is used to jump, while crouch is done by pressing in on the right thumb-stick. There is also a fighting system, allowing combos, but I won’t get into that.

Once your training is complete, you are asked to eat a meal, which knocks you out. As you begin to doze off, soldiers begin to take over the complex and Alex, a mysterious young female, came in the room and saved you from them. Throughout the game, you find yourself fighting for survival and the truth behind the experiments that are taking place.

In order to make this less than just a first-person fighter, Cole can obtain weapons, by picking them up. Whether you pick up grenades, firearms, ammo, or health, you must always pick them up first with X, then place them in your inventory or use them by pressing X again; this is a frustrating task, since it takes up far too much time.

Health comes in the form of ration bars, which restore your health to some degree and can be found on dead guards. Pop machines are also littered throughout the environments and will restore your health by drinking a can.

Cole turns to his fists in order to damage the genetically mutated soldiers, known as T’Lan warriors. The T’Lan warriors are immune to gunfire and also pack a heavy punch, which will quickly damage your health. These are the primary reason why the fighting system is in-place, since the only way to defeat them is with your fists. A few quick punches will put away these baddies, which begs the question of why Namco didn’t just focus on shooting instead of a mundane fighting system.

Breakdown is also linear and repetitive. The designs aren’t varied and the tasks at hand require finding a key card or the escape route. Early on in the game, Cole discovers his glowing right hand to be a useful tool. He can send shockwave attacks and also block bullets.

Breakdown’s weakest element is the lack of variety in gameplay and in environments. This is a game that could have been fully focused on shooting elements, but instead the pesky fighting system was implemented without much focus on quality or unforgettable moves and techniques. Thanks to the Brady Games walkthrough, many of the game’s annoyingly linear paths were avoided from becoming three hour searchathons.

On account of the fighting system and lack of overall replay value, aside from the four difficulty settings, Breakdown isn’t worth recommending, aside from a rental. Again, if you do pick this up, the strategy guide is a useful tool that I turned to somewhat frequently.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 6.5
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 6.5
Final: 7.2
Written by Kyle Review Guide