CrimeCraft debuts today

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A trio of new MMORPGs will be fighting it out for your entertainment dollars over the next month; they are as varied in format as they are in theme, and all promise to offer something different from the norm.

CrimeCraft kicks off today at 2:00 p.m. PDT for those who qualify for the “head start” week; Champions Online will take center stage on September 1st and Aion will grace the scene on September 22nd.

While all three products promise any number of intriguing options, none have had the hubris to proclaim itself the next World of Warcraft or the game that will topple the current King of the Hill.

Even so, that doesn’t mean that the new launches aren’t set to compete or are lacking in confidence. As a matter of fact, each believes it’s taking a step forward in the evolutionary progress of MMORPGs.

While both Aion and Champions Online have grabbed the attention of many MMORPG players, CrimeCraft unveils with a somewhat lower profile but also a theme further away from traditional MMORPGs than most. Here’s a look at what the game is all about:

CrimeCraft by Vogster Entertainment

The least ballyhooed of the new releases, CrimeCraft can best be described as a futuristic third-person team shooter with RPG elements. Global recession has peaked to the point where society has basically deteriorated into anarchy. Amidst the urban sprawl known as Sunrise City, Clans (called Gangs) have formed to provide both protection and livelihood in a world gone crazy. It’s definitely survival of the fittest. Your avatar will be a member of this “live by the gun, die by the gun” world.

Crime Craft’s designers haven’t hedged on whether or not their game should be considered an MMORPG. They’ve decided that they’re “. . . not really.” Matt McEnerny , an executive producer of the game, coined a new acronym for CrimeCraft, calling it a PWNS (Persistent World Next-gen Shooter). According to McEnerny, “While we have a lot of really cool RPG features, they supplement the core game play experience . . . First and foremost we are a Shooter.”

CrimeCraft deviates from the “Massive” moniker because while Vogster hopes that there will consistently be massive amounts of gamers online, gang vs. gang warfare will be capped at 16 players to fit the concept of smaller tactical combat.

RPG elements like leveling and looting, gaining skills and items will make CrimeCraft a living (persistent) world and there will be numerous places to buy and trade items, accept missions and so on, but the pace of the game will be frenetic.

Other standard RPG elements include close to three dozen active and passive skills that can be learned, various modes of play (currently six different PvP scenarios and two PvE scenarios). And, yes, there will be Crafting. You’ll be able to learn to be a Tailor, Gunsmith, Chemist or Engineer.

What there won’t be are specific starting classes. Character creation consists of selecting your gender and then “personalizing” your appearance, naming your avatar and entering the game. The skills you choose and the crafting upon which you decide will be, at this point, the only way to differentiate your character from all others. Depending upon your style of play and the way you use your skill points, you can eventually define your avatar as a Sniper, Medic, etc.

It's important to note that there will be, thankfully, ways to re-spec your characters so as you advance you aren’t necessarily going to have wasted time if you decide you’d like to reorient your avatar.

CrimeCraft doesn’t debut without risks. Its theme may turn off older gamers who may think they need to learn a new language to understand that a “crib” is a home not a bed in which a baby sleeps; that “getting down” doesn’t always mean to duck”.

CrimeCraft is also going to have to overcome the competition of not only other MMORPGs but also increasingly sophisticated stand-alone Shooters that mimic a MMORG through NPCs and hirelings; as well as convince skeptics that it isn’t just a glorified Grand Theft Auto, something that it certainly isn’t.

According to an early FAQ, "CrimeCraft is all about gang warfare and the spoils that come with it. Gangs fight to gain Reputation as they claw their way to the top of the leader boards to be the biggest baddest crew. “

Hopefully, it will get a fair chance to prove its uniqueness and worth.

By James Trunzo

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