Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst - Review

Microsoft Game Studios is offering Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst over at the Marketplace. If you like fast paced, busy-type action games, Project Sunburst is worth a try.

Project Sunburst is a tower defense game where you defend your base camp from mutant freaks. Base on the popular Xbox 360 game, Crackdown, the Windows Phone 7 game adds a local twist to it.

To see how Project Sunburst measured up, ease on past the break.

Destroy all Mutant Freaks

The premise of Sunburst is simple. Defend your camp against mutant freaks. And the neat thing about Sunburst is that you do this from your own backyard.

Project Sunburst uses your phone's location services to pull in a satellite view of your location from BING maps. That image becomes your playing field with the mutants roaming your neighborhood. If the roads are clearly defined, they'll stick to the roadways for the most part. Also, your playing fields keeps up with the time of day. If you play at night, the screen dims to simulate the darkness. Search lights and explosions from your canons will light up the country side to reveal an abundance of targets (apparently mutant freaks are night owls).

Don't want mutant freaks running through your neighborhood? Project Sunburst will let you choose alternative locations. For example, want to build your base at Stone Henge? Simply choose "find location" when your setting things up and you can find a satellite image of Stone Henge and plant your base there instead.

Once you determine your base camps location, you build a defensive perimeter around your camp's barracks to defend against the pending invasion of mutants.

Defense turrets range from machine guns to grenade launchers. Each can be upgraded and fortified. The defensive weapons will fire automatically as threats come into range or you can override things and fire away manually. Just tap and hold a turret to pull up the targeting arrows.

To help you scout out mutant movements, you have a few scout agents that patrol your neighborhood. Alerting you of dangers and taking the fight to the mutants.  

Upgrades, repairs and new structures will cost you. While you start the game with a little cash in the bank, you earn cash with each mutant wiped out. As you progress through the game levels, the earnings per freak increases.

Sunburst isn't just a shoot 'em up type game. There are a missions involved that usually call for you to protect a supply truck, civilian or scout agent reach the safety of your barracks.  On-screen alerts will appear from time to time detailing your progress, mission goals and dangers.

The screen is fully functional with regards to zooming in/out and rotation of views. Remember you can spin the map around to obtain a better vantage point. For the longest I was so involved in the game, I found myself rotating my Windows Phone instead of spinning the view by touch.

A Couple of Nits

One downside to Sunburst is that the small screen of the Windows Phone really doesn't do it justice. While you can pinch to zoom in and see more detail, it narrows your line of sight for game playing purposes.

Asides from that, the only complaints I could find deal with game features. For instance, be very sure of where you plant your defensive turrets. While you will eventually be able to upgrade your weapons, I couldn't find a way to re-position them.

Xbox Live

Project Sunburst is an Xbox Live game that not only allows you to post achievements and scores on your Xbox Live account, but you can also have your friends lend a hand.  You can assign a weapons turret to one of your Xbox Live friends and they can control it through their Windows Phone.

Another Xbox Live feature that is easily overlooked is that in playing Project Sunburst, you can earn power-up features for the XBox 360 game Crackdown 2.  It was briefly mentioned in Channel 9's interview of the developers but if you're playing Crackdown 2 on the Xbox 360 you'll need to download the game add-on Deluge to take advantage of this connected experience.

Overall Impression

Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst ran smoothly and the ability to use your neighborhood as the playing field added to the fun. Sunburst is an addictive game but a little on the busy side though.

While the game's objective is simple (destroy all the mutant freaks) you have so much thrown at you, at times it's easy to forget about one feature or another.  Enemy targets are on the small side and not easily picked up and with the small screen, your field of view is reduced.  There's really no way to get around this but after a while, you get a better feel for the game's environment and pace.

There is an addictive quality to Sunburst. I would often tell myself, "destroy one more wave of mutants and I'll stop" only to play a little longer.  There's just something about blasting mutant freaks into oblivion that keeps you coming back for more.

Project Sunburst is running $2.99 over at the Marketplace and there is a trial version available.  You can find Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst here (opens your Zune desktop).

George Ponder

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.