Interview: Halo 3 beta, download content and a sequel...

Realtime World's Crackdown has turned out to be the Xbox 360's crowning joy of the year so far.

The internet is on fire with postive buzz surrounding the recently-released demo, and the CVG office has seen back-to-back co-op sessions with swear words that could scare off Gordon Ramsey himself.

We recently got the chance to sit down for a chat with Crackdown's senior designer Stephen Iannetta at a very loud, and beer-fuelled London launch event. Here's what he had to say...

Crackdown is obviously one of the first next-gen crime-'em-ups. What were your first ideas for using the extra power in Crackdown?

Stephen Iannetta: When I joined the company Crackdown was well into pre-production and there was actually quite a distinct vision of what the game was going to be about. For me to come in, I knew instantaneously what my job was and that my initial role was to create a specific city.

When it actually came to doing it there was an awful lot of cabals and an awful lot of pretty heavy discussions about how we were going to realise this game - it was a hell of a task.

We could usually call this sort of genre a 'crime-'em-up', but you've taken the opposite viewpoint and actually made Crackdown's protagonist a police agent. Why did you decide to do that?

Iannetta: I think the main appeal of the game is the ability to become a superhero - you're jumping from building to building, taking out gang lords and dealing your own unique brand of justice. Instead of offering a very negative edge we thought it'd be quite interesting to see the city clean up in front of your eyes and you're the guy who's doing it.

The art style is also very distinct - what attracted you to the stylised look?

Iannetta: The art style was very much an attempt to try and capture the 'graphic novel' look. I think it just makes everything look a lot more coherent; it's cartoon-y and it adds contrast to the various actions and abilities as well as complementing the design. Some people call it cel-shading, we call it graphic novel and we think it's very much in keeping with the style of the game.

You previously said you would've liked to have put hundreds of achievements into the game. Has Microsoft's recent point-increase-per-single-title quenched your thirst or do you want more?

Iannetta: Yeah, Absolutely. Just when we were coming to the end of the project we were very fortunate to have a bit of free time and I managed to take out two gang lords without using any weapons. You've got the ability to play this game very, very specifically and I think it would be really good to have the achievements accommodate people who don't use guns, don't use grenades or only use their firsts. Or the other thing you can do is just not kill anybody other than the gang lords.

How many achievement points would be enough for you then?

Iannetta: Oh, an absolutely huge amount. To clean up the city you've got to eliminate the 21 gang bosses - if you're the nicest guy in the world and only do that then you certainly deserve an achievement if you didn't use any grenades, or you only used your fists. The more you play it the more you realise 'that deserves an achievement, that deserves and achievement'.

How do you feel about the fact that that a lot of people are going to buy Crackdown perhaps just for the Halo 3 beta invite?

Iannetta: Prior to the demo coming out there were a lot of people saying 'wait a minute, this is just a way to sell Crackdown' and I think the more they played the demo the more Halo fans realised 'no wait, this is a great game'.

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