released on Jan 29, 2004

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released on Jan 29, 2004

Trapped inside a mysterious laboratory and unable to remember his past, Derrick Cole discovers his extraordinary powers, as he fights for survival against a determined military faction and a legion of seemingly invincible super-human warriors! Breakdown offers an exciting first-person action-adventure gaming experience by combining hand-to-hand combat and state-of-the-art weapons with an intense story line and incredible graphics. Embark on a thrilling and suspenseful search for the truth!

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I love almost everything about this game except for the fact that all of the cool, weird and unique ideas are attached to a first-person combat system that doesn't really work and, although it is tolerable for a fair bit of the game, eventually the difficulty ramps up to a point where every fight is as much of a battle against the clunky, awkward controls than it is the enemies.

There's also a truly terrible platforming section that it makes you do twice. That's not two similar sections but literally the same section, twice over, before the end of the game. With a couple of tweaks to the controls I think I'd be able to stick this one out to the finish (and I'm tempted at some point to use the Xbox's system level button binding stuff to switch around some baffling decisions, such as BLOCK on L3) but today is not that day. TO THE BIN!

Will give you a Breakdown Guaranteed.

This game is kind of shit and torturous to play but I thoroughly enjoyed this janky Japanese Xbox exclusive (a rarity to this day). There's so many bizarre ideas that are poorly implemented yet I can't help but get sucked into it, maybe it's my nostalgia for the era of games where the game bears everything about itself on it's sleeve without much pretense.
The dream sections are still very cool to play through and the checkpoint system is just unforgiving enough to keep me on edge during normal difficulty - there is a very specific way this game wants you to play and you have to accept that you're going to take a lot of damage, so enjoy watching Derrick eat half of an energy bar before chucking it away forever at least 200 times.

The game pulls a very cool trick on you too that you should stop reading here if you have any interest in playing:

At the start you're playing an extremely careful tactical """"shooter"""" (if you can even call this proper shooter gameplay), by the end you're raining explosive death from above and spamming laser beams at giant hulking masses from outside their effective AI range. Excellent stuff and despite the box art I did not expect it to get to this point. Nothing quite like it.
It's a shit game that I hate playing but I love it all the same. No-one wanted this ambitious project when it came out, but I'll take it if they won't have it, butt-rock credits and all.

It's really not very good, though I'm happy to have played through it one more time. It did a few interesting things for the time but 14 years on it's a pretty painful experience when looking at things like shooting, platforming and the whole target lockon system. The field of view is way too tight, not helped by it being 4:3 only, movement is slow and clunky with some bafflingly long sections of just walking slowly through large featureless corridors or fields (there's a hugely annoying jumping puzzle bit near the end), and it's very easy to get disoriented with the hit reactions - all downsides of the game design in their own way.

At the same time though, there's cool stuff there that you can see struggling to get out; the forced perspective means that they can play with your perceptions with hallucinations (something which they needed to do way more of) and it "solves" the problem of the player not looking where he wants by just jerking your view over. The start is particularly good at this but they just didn't take enough advantage; there's hardly anything you can interact with that isn't essential to the plot, it gets too concerned with its own cleverness when picking up items and the whole thing feels like it was drastically cut back.

In the end, while it starts strong it just kind of sags towards the middle and doesn't really pay off in the end with the time travel plot. The horrible nu metal ending theme is still very much present in the credits though, so that's something to look forward to at the end of 6-7 hours I guess? I'd recommend that if anyone does play it, do it in easy. There's one encounter near the end which I remember spending hours bashing my head against but I just walked through it this time.

people often naively complain about the state of the game industry and how overly saturated it is with generic, cookie-cutter garbage - then in the same breath they'll start panning and ignoring the actual cutting-edge titles that most push the envelope with innovative ideas

enter breakdown - a wildly misunderstood first-person genre mishmash with addicting combat, kickass powers, and a totally off-the-rails storyline. open your mind to its unconventional control schemes and you'll be met with one of the most creative, peculiar, and downright fun games you'll have played in years

the infamous final stretch also isn't that bad. it was doable on hard (albeit with a lot of trial and error) so i can't imagine normal being too tough considering how much softer the enemies hit

Ever been a little squirt of a gamer and had imagined your dream game? Then a few years later, the concept of game design gets into your head.
Whatever kid who wants his game to be in 1st person throughout the whole time no matter the genre is a dumb kid. I'd bully him. I'll gladly shove his head into a fuckin' toilet.