Breakdown (video game)
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|Publisher(s)||Namco, Electronic Arts (EU)|
Breakdown (ブレイクダウン?) is a first-person action game released by Namco in 2004 for the Microsoft Xbox console. Reviews of the game were mixed, sales were mediocre and it was criticized for flawed gameplay mechanics. Despite its shortcomings, the game was praised for its use of the first-person perspective for storytelling.
Although Breakdown is a first-person shooter, it integrates elements of a fighting game and uses auto-lock for shooting enemies. The viewpoint is always the player's, and interaction with objects is realistic: ammunition is picked up by looking down and grabbing it (instead of walking over it), doors are opened by grabbing the handle, key cards used by swiping them over a scanner and ladders climbed by using one's arms. Health and energy are replenished by consuming energy bars and sodas
An underground complex, T'lan (known by humanity as Site Zero), has been discovered in Japan. Built by unknown forces and controlled by a being known as Nexus, a research facility to study the complex is established. As the game begins, there have been minor skirmishes between the humans and T’lan.
Protagonist Derrick Cole has developed amnesia from an injection of T’langen, a fluid recovered from Site Zero which was intended to create supersoldiers. He is in a recovery facility near Site Zero at the beginning of the war between the humans and Nexus, which overflows into the facility. Derrick is rescued by a woman, Alex Hendrickson, who seems to know him and is dismayed about his amnesia. As they escape, he develops great strength to fight the T’lan. They escape to the research facility, learning that Nexus is launching an attack on humanity with crystal rockets in Site Zero moving his troops.
In Site Zero Alex is captured by Solus, a T’lan. As Derrick makes his way through Site Zero he encounters Stefania Wojinski, a neurologist specializing in memory loss and recovery. She is killed moments later, after handing over a disk demanded by the enemy. Derrick runs upstairs to the silos, but arrives to find Gianni de Luca's squad decimated. The T'lan rockets are launched, sending T’lan all over the world. Derrick enters the heart of Site Zero to stop Nexus, destroying it but being challenged by Solus. During the fight, Solus kills Alex; Derrick is sent 15 years into the future when a nuclear strike, launched by the army, reacts with Solus' shield.
Derrick awakes in a memory chamber designed by Stefania, and it is revealed that the game until now was a journey through his memory; he is now in a dystopian future controlled by the T’lan. A group of human scientists explains that Derrick will experience a pendulum effect, bringing him back to the present. This will allow him to change the future, preventing the rockets' launch. Traveling through the complex to reach Glen, Derrick finds Alex (who does not recognize him). They meet Glen, who reveals that although they failed to stop the launch 15 years before, they had time to perfect T'langen (which would allow Derrick to reach his full potential). As the pendulum effect begins, Alex accompanies Derrick to the present although she knows she will die. They are separated in the pendulum-effect tunnel, and will arrive in different times.
Derrick saves Stefania before she is thrown off the building, and helps the military to destroy the rockets. He defeats Solus, saves Alex and defeats Nexus, ending the T’lan threat. Derrick and Alex escape from Site Zero as it implodes. In a helicopter above the site with Stefania and Gianni, Alex questions the future; since she still exists, the future has divided into two timelines (with and without the T'lan). As the pendulum effect begins to throw Alex into the future she jumps out of the helicopter, saying that only she should return. Derrick has a choice: remaining in his own time (and allowing Alex to die) or following her into the future.
- Derrick Cole: A former combat soldier skilled in firearms and hand-to-hand combat, he is the only survivor of 10 Alpha Project test subjects who received large intravenous doses of T'langen; because of this, he is capable of fighting the T'Lan. His out-of-place environments, such as a desert, are fragments of older memories used to fill the gaps in his memory of the T'Lan offensive. Voiced by Steve Staley.
- Alex Hendrickson: Physically-capable and determined woman, who can fight with guns and knives. She is a member of the facility's Beta Project, a more-successful project which looks for gradual results instead of those from one injection. While traveling through the facility, Derrick remembers seeing a young Alex as a test subject in a room with other children. Voiced by Jessica Straus.
- Glen Ogawa: A Japanese-American professor of medicine, after conducting biological research in Australia he was banned from the medical community for creating a human clone. He is now involved in a classified project. Glen spearheaded experiments in augmenting soldiers to supersoldiers, with military support, and processes the T'langen given to Derrick. Voiced by Michael McConnohie.
- Stefania Wojinski: Visiting professor from Poland and memory specialist, whose recent project was canceled. Bitter, she deleted and appropriated data from her employers' hard drives. Voiced by Wendee Lee.
- Gianni de Luca: An Italian-American Marine first lieutenant, he leads an elite unit specializing in top-secret missions. Colorfully-spoken, he is a good, passionate person who is cool under fire. Although Gianni is deployed by the army looking for Derrick, Gianni answers to a higher authority and is tasked with a secret mission to reach Nexus and prevent the launch of the T'lan rockets. Voiced by Bob Papenbrook.
- Solus: Powerful T'lan leader and avatar of Nexus. He meets Derrick and Alex in the Botanical Research Facility, incapacitating both. Solus later meets Derrick underground, and the latter can only run. In Site Zero, he kidnaps Alex and interrogates her. As Derrick frees her, Solus seems to be defeated but kills Alex. After a nuclear explosion, a reaction with his shield energy and sends Derrick into the future. Voiced by Crispin Freeman.
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David Chen, writing for Xbox-gaming magazine XBN, gave Breakdown a score of 9 out of 10. He said, "Hardcore gamers ... will find Breakdown suffers from a few too many design flaws" but praised the game: "In spite of any ... shortcomings, Breakdown is an enormously compelling, satisfying game".
In 2009, GamesRadar included it in its list of games "with untapped franchise potential": "Breakdown got a lot of attention for its originality (first person fistfights!) and bizarre plot (time traveling alien super-soldiers.) Official Xbox Magazine went so far as to claim that Breakdown was better than Halo’s. Three and a half Halo games later, there’s still no franchise in sight for Breakdown."
- "Breakdown International Releases". Giant Bomb. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- Goldstein, Hilary. "Breakdown - Review". IGN. IGN. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- Chen, David (April 2004). "Breakdown: Furiously first-person fist fighting". XBN (013): 88–90.
- 123 games with untapped franchise potential, GamesRadar US, April 30, 2009