We've had this on the go since January, playing the Japanese version since its release. The game has received a fair amount of gloomy press from some sources, and positively glowing from others (Japan's official Xbox magazine loved it).
We're sticking by our original impressions to say we think Breakdown is the business. It has a strong original concept that handles well, and in some instances makes a fine job of making your Xbox look cooler than a PS2. That's never a bad thing.
Through The Eyes Of A Killer
Central to the debate is the first-person action-hero concept. As ex-US Marine, Derrick Cole, you're not just first-person shooting, you're also first-person beating the crap out of things, and trying to navigate tricky environments.
All of which is a disorienting experience that takes time to get comfortable with, but one that works fine overall. You feel trapped inside Derrick Cole's head, with your arms and legs slotted into his, dealing first-hand with whatever's in front of him.
Punches and kicks are landed using a combination of L and R trigger inputs, plus run and jump. Given time you'll be backflipping out of danger, cartwheeling among enemies in a crowded room, and sliding in to take out legs or rise into devastating uppercuts.
Breakdown is gobsmacking when the plan comes together, but a bit wobbly too when it doesn't.
Take It Lying Down
Since absolutely everything is handled from a first-person view, there have been times when we've felt kind of travel sick while playing. Bearing in mind that we've played many FPSs in our time, this came as a shock! Each time you go to press a button or open a door, Derrick sways back and forwards in an exaggerated manner. Pick something up and Derrick insists on giving it a quick once over, and you cannot skip the animation. There are lots of buttons, doors, and items to interact with in Breakdown so you can understand how this gets frustrating.
Yet, you take this all on the chin because the level design and overall artistic quality of alien beings and their worlds is high. Cole's mission may drag at times and some areas are very repetitive, but it is always enthralling.
Rated highly because of its rather unique and successful adaptation of first-person fisticuffs, but not TOO highly as it struggles sometimes.