It takes moon-size balls to try a new concept in videogames, which is why we see so few of them. That's why we love Namco for having galactic guts enough to try something pretty far out on Xbox.
It helps that Breakdown has a sci-fi theme; you get away with more of the unknown. Besides, the idea itself isn't so hard to imagine, it's how it pans out: a character that fights from a first-person view, getting stuck in with commando-style unarmed combat: body blows, push-kicks, the works. Delivering this experience is Breakdown's biggest success however there could also be problems with how it affects the rest of the game.
You play as ex-US Marine, Derrick Cole, soon revealed as more than the average GI Joe. His physique is enhanced by an alien super-drug - the more he takes, the stronger he becomes. Initially Cole struggles to batter rival super-beings, but later he knocks the same dudes flying with one kick.
While the time-consuming aspect is exploration, the meat of Breakdown is combat. Moves are handled using L and R combined with direction and, for evasion, jump.
On Your Knees
Cole can jab, upper-cut, left or right hook, kick, slide-kick, even grab hold of slender enemies to bend them over double and gut-punch them before tossing them aside. Between times he can back-flip and cartwheel to make space to line up more moves. Yes, it really does make you queasy!
But despite it being kinda disorienting at times, we like the fighting. It looks awesome, is thrilling, and a sure reason to be excited about Breakdown. We're less pleased when the 'Look, it's your very own hands' gag becomes laboured; also that the viewpoint can be confusing while doing standard tasks. Every time he picks up an item, for example, Cole examines it - EVERY time.
When clambering onto a ledge, the view bobs and weaves to show Cole's hands and feet, making you want to puke. Overall it's hard to judge distances, and the collision detection is temperamental. On balance, though, Breakdown's pros just outweigh the cons.
One of the most striking games in ages, but the clever first-person element lets it down in places. Hopefully the final UK edition will iron out such problems.