Breakdown (video game)

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Breakdown
Breakdowncover.jpg
Developer(s) Namco
Publisher(s) Namco, Electronic Arts (EU)
Designer(s) Masataka Shimono
Platform(s) Xbox
Release date(s)
  • JP January 29, 2004
  • NA March 16, 2004
  • EU June 18, 2004
[1]
Genre(s) First person
Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution DVD-ROM

Breakdown (ブレイクダウン?) is a first-person action game released by Namco in 2004 for the Microsoft Xbox console. The game was praised for its use of the first-person perspective for storytelling.

Gameplay[edit]

Although Breakdown is a first-person action game, 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

Plot[edit]

An underground complex known by humanity as Site Zero, has been discovered in Japan as a cause for increased earthquake activity. Built by unknown forces and controlled by a being known as Nexus, a research facility to study the complex and its inhabitants, the T'lan, is established. As the game begins, there have been minor skirmishes between the humans and seemingly invincible 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 with T'lan abilities. 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 mysterious woman named Alex Hendrickson, who seems to know him and is dismayed about his amnesia. As they make their escape, they are separated by an earthquake during an encounter with T'lan warriors. As they go their separate ways, Derrick's new abilities manifest and he is able to break through the T'lan energy shields like Alex. The two eventually reunite and encounter a white-haired T'lan named Solus who defeats both Derrick and Alex with ease before running off to complete a different objective.

Derrick and Alex learn of an evacuation helicopter on the roof of the building, and plan to use it to escape the soldiers and T'lan. However, the military destroys the helicopter and Derrick and Alex escape the military pursuit to the Terminus 4 research facility, where they encounter the Beta Project test subjects, children who have been slowly injected with small amounts of T'langen over a long period of time to give them the same abilities as Derrick. Alex recognizes one named Ernest, and calls out to him saying that help is on the way. Further into the research center, they meet Stefania Wojinski, a neurologist specializing in memory loss and recovery, who has had her project funding terminated. After a brief discussion with her about Derrick's memory, the two are finally greeted by Chief Researcher Glen Ogawa. They learn that Nexus is planning a massive attack on humanity. Glen gives Derrick an additional injection of T'langen known as "accelerator", boosting his physical capabilities and giving him new powers.

Departing to Site Zero, Derrick and Alex are separated again and they both agree to regroup at the entrance. Along the way, Derrick encounters Lieutenant Gianni deLuca and his anti-T'tan laser equipped squad. He learns from Gianni that Nexus is planning on deploying its T'lan troops all over the Earth with crystal rockets in Site Zero, and it is Gianni's mission is to stop them. Gianni and his squad plan to join up with another unit. While Gianni and his squad have a different goal, other squads are ordered to shoot Derrick on site. The two part ways and Derrick travels to Site Zero on foot. Traveling into Terminus' sewer system, Derrick is stopped by Solus, who has been ordered to stop him from entering Site Zero. Narrowly escaping, Derrick reunites with Alex and the two head into Site Zero.

Inside the surreal Site Zero, the two learn from Gianni that Stefania stole a valuable disk containing all of Terminus 4's research on Site Zero and the T'lan, deleting all backups. The military wants the information, so they send in a team to retrieve the disk before they order a nuclear strike. Deep into Site Zero, Alex is captured by Solus. As Derrick makes his way through alone he encounters Stefania Wojinski. She is killed moments after handing the disk over to the military. Derrick travels on foot to the silos, but arrives to find Gianni's squad decimated. The rockets are launched, and the T’lan are scattered all over the world. Derrick enters the heart of Site Zero to stop Nexus, but is challenged by Solus. During the fight, Solus kills Alex. Having retrieved the disk, the military orders the nuclear strike in a last attempt to stop Nexus. The resulting explosion reacts with Solus' shield and Derrick is sent 15 years into the future.

Derrick awakes in a device designed by Stefania, and it is revealed that everything until now was a journey through his memory to help him piece together what happened all those years ago; he is now in a dystopian future controlled by the T’lan. A group of Terminus 4 scientists explains that Derrick will experience the "pendulum effect", swinging him back in time to shortly before he left. This will allow him to relive events, and hopefully prevent 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 further refine T'langen. The "ultra accelerator" injection gives Derrick the power he needs to change the past. As the pendulum effect begins, Alex accompanies Derrick to the present, knowing she will be killed by Solus. They are separated in the pendulum-effect tunnel, and will arrive in different times. Derrick arrives moments after Alex is captured by Solus, and Alex ends up at the recovery facility where she rescued Derrick.

Derrick saves Stefania before she is thrown off the building, and uses an elevator to take him deep into the silos, where he arrives in time to help Gianni to shut down the rockets. He defeats Solus, saves Alex and destroys Nexus, ending the T’lan threat. Derrick and Alex escape from Site Zero as it collapses. 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 to avoid dragging the others with her. Derrick has a choice: remaining in his own time or following her to destroy Nexus in the future.

Characters[edit]

  • 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.

Reception[edit]

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".[2] IGN's Hilary Goldstein scored the game a 6.7 out of 10, criticizing it for boring level design and clunky gameplay mechanics but praised it for it's solid voice acting and deep story.[3]

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."[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Breakdown International Releases". Giant Bomb. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Chen, David (April 2004). "Breakdown: Furiously first-person fist fighting". XBN (013): 88–90. 
  3. ^ Goldstein, Hilary. "Breakdown - Review". IGN. IGN. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  4. ^ 123 games with untapped franchise potential, GamesRadar US, April 30, 2009