The Five: CrimeCraft
The 10-Cent Tour: Twitch gamers form gangs, fill their enemies full of lead, then hang around in 500-man lobbies to rub it in.
1. Leveling isn't the be-all and end-all of CrimeCraft. The game is a persistent-world third-person shooter, so your reflexes and tactical smarts are just as important as your gear and experience. A level 1 character will be able to take down a level 50 character. You're rewarded for climbing the ladder with skills and abilities -- some are passive, but others let you do stuff like chuck Molotov cocktails or go invisible for a second. If you're familiar with the perks in Call of Duty 4's multiplayer, you know exactly what to expect.
2. You probably haven't heard of Vogster before. That's because the only game it's shipped so far has been Robocalypse for the Nintendo DS. CrimeCraft is being developed by a team of 60 to 70 programmers and artists in Kiev, Ukraine. A team of four holds down the fort in New Jersey. The CrimeCraft team boasts veterans from Warhammer Online, Sony Online Entertainment and the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series.
3. CrimeCraft isn't gunning to unseat World of Warcraft. "We have no aspirations to do that," says Vogster senior marketing manager Casey Dickinson. The model here is EVE Online -- a niche massively-multiplayer online game with a dedicated base. That's why Vogster is keeping the game's story light. They'll provide the setting (Sunset City is a near-future metropolis where gangs fight for territory) and hoping players pick up the task of storytelling from there. If particularly cool events go down, Vogster hopes to work the players and their deeds into the lore.
4. Fights go down in one of 10 maps. Matchmaking throws players into eight-vs.-eight fights featuring all kinds of traditional game types, like Capture the Flag. There are also player-vs.-environment instances which pit groups against a team of bots. There, players will have to accomplish tasks, like protecting a cache of munitions. All of the brawls are supplemented by quests that you satisfy in the midst of battle.
5. CrimeCraft is a shooter with loot, so put on your ninja gear. Drops will appear around the corpse of a downed enemy. The first person to grab those goodies gets to keep them. Rewards will include enhanced ammunition, parts to customize your weapon and stuff with which to deck out your gang headquarters -- like a pet cat, a stripper pole or a crafting station. The one thing you can't steal is XP. The person who delivers the bullet gets the points.
The Crispy Forecast: Competitive types, especially those with an affinity for clan culture, will find in Vogster a promising partner in crime.
CrimeCraft is aiming to launch in the second quarter of 2009 with a pay-as-you-go pricing scheme. The game is in closed beta now. Sign-ups for the 10,000-player open beta test are happening at www.crimecraft.com.