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Crackdown

Is the sky the limit in this urban warfare sim from the creator of GTA?

Saints Row might be the loudest punk on the block, and Just Cause may well
be the biggest. But of all GTA's crown-stealing sandbox-style offspring, Crackdown is the tallest. Half-a-mile tall at its highest point - and everything you can see can be scaled by foot.

Beginning life as a standard secret agent working for crime-stoppers the Agency, you'll soon find that times are hard - crime is so rife that you can't walk around a corner without gangs shooting at you. Three gangs run the city; the Volk, Los Muertos and the Shai-Gen Corporation. Each has seven bosses that you'll need to take down to get at their lead kingpin - that's 24 big bads all told.

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In order to stand a chance on the streets, you'll need to ramp up your strength and max-out your agility bars by working out and collecting as many of the 600 green agility orbs that litter the game world as you can. Once you're fully maxed out, your agent is able to leap fifty feet in the air, and is so strong that a single roundhouse kick is enough to flip a moving vehicle.

That said, you'll still need a little extra help when you're out there on the front line. Agent Vision is a special ability that gives players tips on the fly where secret Agency messages embedded on billboards and buildings suddenly become readable, giving you hints to the nearest Agency supply point, and directing you to areas where you can safely rearm, repair and respawn.

Your gangland targets are to be found sulking around their heavily guarded homes, but you can get around their defences by finding alternative routes into their fortresses.

The more athletic your character becomes, the more easily you'll be able to gain access to previously inaccessible or highly guarded areas. Fighting the kingpins is the game's toughest challenge and once you've completed the game, all 24 of them miraculously return from the grave for you to battle for a final time.

Achievements are key, from the longest fall to your death, to how long you've air
juggled with a rocket launcher. Crackdown times how long it takes you to complete each Achievement and a constantly updated top 20 roster of the best players will be posted on Xbox Live. Our favourite is a point-to-point race up the tallest building - the agency headquarters - which takes four minutes even with a maxed-out super-agent. Develop a head for heights in time for early 2007...

CLEANING UP THE STREETS

Phone a friend: Two players can play together to take on the kingpins over Xbox Live. As ever, teamwork of this nature lasts approximately 0.66 seconds before one player roundhouse kicks the other off a skyscraper. There'll also be a huge 16-player deathmatch option post-release. Once you've completed the game, all 21 kingpins miraculously return from the grave to be defeated again.

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Matter of priority: The order in which you take out your targets really matters. Take out the trainer, and the other targets will be weaker. Take out the ammo dealer, and their bazookas will be replaced with sissy-pistols. It pays to plan your assassinations carefully.

You are the law: As an agent, you're above the law. Constantly blowing up half the indigenous population is frowned upon though, and eventually the agency will lose their rag with you. Stay low to keep them off your back.

Crazy taxi: You have three agency cars available to drive: a sports car, an SUV and a truck. Raise your agent level and the cars will morph into better versions of themselves as your access level rises, allowing you to fl ip pesky pedestrian cars out of your way.

Heavy lifting: Anything with a blue shimmer can easily be lifted by a strong enough agent - at level five, you can gorilla-press and throw nearly anything, including skips and trucks. The heavier objects will affect your jumping prowess, so plan your escape routes carefully.

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