Grand Theft Auto Co-Creator David Jones founded developer Realtime Worlds in 2002, then set out to produce an experience that could venture beyond the confines of GTA. The studio placed such a weight on itself with its first project, Crackdown, an action-packed, sandbox adventure that provided players with free-form styles of play, intuitive game controls, and a true feeling of empowerment. While a super-cop tasked with ridding their city of the criminal element represented the lens through which users explored Crackdown’s Pacific City setting, narrative storytelling took a backseat in favor of building a world that revolved primarily around gameplay and exploration.
Realtime Worlds succeeded in spades upon Crackdown’s 2007 release on Xbox 360, managing to carve out a unique space in a market that had slowly become inundated with Grand Theft Auto lookalikes. Games such as True Crime, Scarface: The World is Yours, and The Godfather all tried muscling in on the territory controlled by Rockstar Games, thrusting players into seedy underworlds with fairly traditional tales of big city crime. David Jones’ crew at Realtime Worlds took a different tact, injecting special abilities and an even greater sense of freedom into the formula.
Given Crackdown’s positive reception and commercial triumphs, many were eager to see how the then-nascent franchise would further energize the open-world genre. And while Microsoft counted among those interested in the IP’s future, the publisher entrusted its sequels to different teams, thereby leaving Crackdown in the hands of stewards who couldn’t quite crack the code on what made the first super-powered adventure stand out from the crowd.
This is the rise and fall of Crackdown.
Well it WAS. But there’s still time for a redemption arc