Breakdown (video game)
|Publisher(s)||Namco, Electronic Arts|
Breakdown (ブレイクダウン) (working title: Project Breakdown) is a first-person action game released by Namco in 2004 for the Microsoft Xbox console. Views on the game are mixed, as it sold unspectacularly, and was criticized for flawed gameplay mechanics. Despite the shortcomings, it received critical acclaim for using the first-person perspective to achieve a higher level of emergence and a deeper method of storytelling than most games.
Breakdown is unique in that it is technically categorized as a first-person shooter, but integrates the experiences of a fighting game into the experience as well as using auto-lock-on for shooting enemies. The viewpoint never leaves the perspective of the player, and interaction with objects, reloading of guns, and the impact of hitting the floor are all seen through this first-person perspective. Unlike other first-person shooters, interaction with objects is also all done in a realistic manner in Breakdown; ammunition is picked up by looking down and grabbing it with your arm instead of walking over it, doors are opened by grabbing the handle, key cards used by swiping them over a scanner, and ladders are climbed by using your arms. Health and energy are replenished by consuming energy bars, sodas and hamburgers, which the player must eat while remaining in first person.
Humanity has discovered an underground complex in Japan built by unknown forces and controlled by a being called Nexus who rules over the T'lan inhabitants. The humans name the complex Site Zero, and set up a research facility to study the complex. There are skirmishes between the humans and T’lan, but nothing serious until the game begins.
Derrick Cole, the protagonist, has had his memory erased by a severe reaction to an injection of T’langen, a fluid recovered from Site Zero intended to create supersoldiers. He finds himself in a recovery facility near Site Zero at the start of the war between the humans and Nexus which spills into the training facility. He is rescued from enemy soldiers by a woman named Alex Hendrickson who appears to know him and is shocked and horrified to know of his amnesia. As they escape, Derrick begins to develop incredible strength to fight the T’lan and soldiers alike. They escape to the research facility where they learn that Nexus is launching a full scale attack on humanity using crystal rockets in Site Zero to move their troops. Derrick and Alex must stop them.
Once inside Site Zero, Alex is captured by a powerful T’lan named Solus. As Derrick makes his way through Site Zero alone, he encounters Stefania Wojinski, a scientist specializing in memory loss and recovery. She is killed moments later by the enemy soldiers after handing over the disk they demanded. This forces Derrick to take the stairs to the silos using up valuable time. He arrives too late to find Gianni de Luca's squad decimated by the enemy with himself moments away from death. The T'lan rockets are launched, sending T’lan all over the world. Derrick journeys into the heart Site Zero, to stop Nexus the only way left, destroying it, but is challenged by Solus. During the fight, Solus kills Alex, and Derrick is almost killed when a nuclear strike launched by the army reacts with Solus' shield and sends him fifteen years into the future.
Derrick awakes inside a memory chamber designed by Dr. Wojinski. This reveals the entire game prior to this moment was a journey through his memories and explains away several scenes and materialization of Wojinski's cat. Here Derrick find himself in a dystopian future controlled by the T’lan. A group of human scientists explain that Derrick will experience a Pendulum Effect, throwing him back into the present. This will allow him to change the future, preventing the launching of the rockets. Journeying through the complex to reach Glen, Derrick encounters Alex who doesn't recognize him. Both race to meet Glen who reveals that although they failed to stop the launch 15 years prior, what they had was time, enough time to perfect pure T'langen which will allow Derrick to reach his full potential. As the Pendulum Effect take hold Alex accompanies Derrick back to the present knowing full well that she will die. Through the tunnel that the Pendulum Effect brought them, they are both separated and will appear in different times. This explains Alex's knowledge of the facility and the role Derrick must accomplish.
This time around, Derrick saves Stefania before she is thrown off the building and helps the military destroy the rockets. When the time comes to challenge Solus, Derrick defeats him and saves Alex, thwarting her destiny to die. He then goes to defeat Nexus, ending the T’lan threat once and for all. Derrick and Alex escape from Site Zero as it collapses in on itself. In the helicopter above the site with Stefania and Gianni, Alex questions the future that lies ahead noting that as she still exists, the future has branched off into two different timelines; one with the T'lan and the other without. As the Pendulum Effect begins to throw Alex back into the future, she leaps out of the helicopter hovering and states that only she should return. Here the player is given the choice of having Derrick stay in his own time allowing Alex to die in hers, or to follow her into the future resulting in the real ending of the game.
- Derrick Cole: He awakens in a strange research facility with no memories of his past and learns his name from a researcher working at the lab. Derrick is the only survivor of 10 test subjects of the Alpha Project. These test subjects had large doses of T'langen injected directly into their bloodstream. Because of this, his body evolves into a form capable of fighting the T'Lan. Derrick was formerly a soldier who has witnessed real combat prior to the game. This explains the out-of-place environments that he experiences, such as the desert in the corridors, which are fragments of older memories used to fill the gaps in his patchy memories of the T'Lan offensive. Derrick is skilled in both hand to hand combat and firearms. He is voiced by Steve Staley.
- Alex Hendrickson: A mysterious woman who seems to know Derrick. She has amazing physical capabilities and can fight with both guns and knives. A very strong willed woman, she never gives up easily. She is a member of the facility's Beta Project, which creates results gradually over many years, as opposed to a single injection. This project proved more successful than the previous one involving Derrick. In Derrick's memories, while journeying through the facility he saw a very young Alex as a test subject in a room along with a number of other children. She is voiced by Jessica Straus.
- Glen Ogawa: A Japanese-American professor of medicine. He was conducting biological research in Australia but was banished from the medical community because he created a human clone. He is now involved in a highly classified project. Glen is the scientist who spearheaded the experiments into augmentating soldiers into supersoldiers with the military's backing. He is the one who processes the T'langen given to Derrick. He is voiced by Michael McConnohie.
- Stefania Wojinski: A visiting professor from Poland who is a specialist in human memory mechanisms. She has not given up on her years of research although her recent project was canceled, apparently titled 'Project Breakdown'. After funding was cut from her projects, Stefania soon turned traitor deleting the data from her employers' hard drives and making off with the originals. She is voiced by Wendee Lee.
- First Lieutenant Gianni de Luca: An Italian-American United States Marine. He leads an elite unit of soldiers that specialize in top secret missions. Gianni has a foul mouth, but is a good person with a passionate personality that keeps his cool at critical moments. Although Gianni is deployed by the same army tracking down Derrick, he answers to a higher authority tasked with a secret mission requiring him and his men to reach Nexus and prevent the launch of the T'lan rockets. He is voiced by Bob Papenbrook.
- Solus: Solus is the T'lan leader, being the physical avatar of Nexus. He is incredibly powerful as both Alex and Derrick are constantly on the run from him. He first meets them in the Botanical Research Facility, incapacitating both Alex and Derrick with ease, nearly killing them both, but leaves them alive for unknown reasons. He later meets Derrick underground, and Derrick can only run from him. In Site Zero, he kidnaps Alex and interrogates her. As Derrick frees her, he fights Derrick and seems to be defeated, but gets up with enormous strength and effortlessly defeats him and then kills Alex. After a nuclear strike, a reaction between his shield energy and the nuclear explosion sends Derrick into the future, which may or may not have killed him. He is voiced by Crispin Freeman.
|This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (January 2013)|
|This section requires expansion. (January 2013)|
David Chen, a writer for XBN, an Xbox-specific gaming magazine, gave Breakdown a score of 9 out of 10. Chen said that "hardcore gamers... will find Breakdown suffers from a few too many design flaws" but nevertheless praised the game highly: "In spite of any... shortcomings, Breakdown is an enormously compelling, satisfying game".
In 2009, GamesRadar included it among the games "with untapped franchise potential", commenting: "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 has "the most riveting plot of any Xbox FPS to date, topping even 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.
- Official Xbox Magazine April 2004, page 78
- 123 games with untapped franchise potential, GamesRadar US, April 30, 2009