By Deranged Midget 26 Comments
Back in early 2007, the original Crackdown was a game that would've quietly slipped under the radar if it were not for the fact that it was the carrier for the much anticipated Halo 3 Beta. Little attention was focused towards Crackdown as most people were simply anxious to get their hands on the Halo 3 beta, but as it turns out, Crackdown turned out to be superbly proficient in providing one of the best open-world experiences to have ever graced console gaming. It was an open-world adventure with a super-powered twist, as you upgraded your characters physical stats to become a virtually unstoppable one man army.
Crackdown 2 returns hoping to replicate that excitement and while it provides the same basic experience, but little is down in attempts to re-invent the formula or even add to it.
Taking place roughly ten years after the events of the first game, Crackdown 2 decides to ditch the gang-war aspect of the original game in favour of a viral mutant outbreak that has taken over the entire city. As with the first game, there is little-to-no narrative to be told here. You get a brief outlook on how events became to be and that's the extent of any true story-telling you'll get throughout the experience. In Crackdown's favour, story was never it's strong suit nor was it ever the focus. It was always about giving the player unrestricted freedom in a explosive sandbox and the adrenaline rush that the gameplay provided. Regardless, Crackdown 2 does get credit for attempting to switch up the atmosphere in the game with a new directive and showcasing the impact that the mutant outbreak has left on Pacific City.
A new day/night cycle takes precedence as you'll be forced to engage different foes depending on the time of day. When the sun is shining, your average mercenary groups will be your foes, protecting their territory but doing little other to be seen as a credible threat. At night, endless hords of mutants roam the streets and you'll be forced to switch up your strategy to face them. Charge right in and you'll be mauled to death, attempt to flee and you will be pursued. It's here that Crackdown 2's story focuses on the elimination of these abominations as you're forced to locate their hideouts and plant UV Light bombs to rid Pacific city of the mutant plight. Yes, the creativity ends there.
In regards to Pacific City itself, it's simply the same recycled map from the original game with a slightly more apocalyptic vibe added to give the player a feeling of desperation that is oozing from the cities residents that are left to fend for themselves. It's nothing particularly creative nor will it catch your eye. At first glance, it simply screams "been there, done that", and fans expecting more will be left disappointed. There's a slight improvement in graphical quality but it's rather depressing when considering the three year difference between the games.
The invigorating gameplay has thankfully remained the same for the most part with a slight overhaul to a few aspects of the Agent progression. The changes implemented bode well for the game as it makes for more enjoyable combat and travel options but the developers make a wise decision in refusing to alter the formula in a drastic matter. New vehicles are added while the interesting physical upgrades shown as your driving skill rose in the original have become abandoned. Also making a triumphant return in the sequel are the famed agility orbs. As with it's predecessor, Crackdown 2's agility orbs help progress your agility attributes and the harder they are to achieve, the better the results are. Little deviations are made as new versions of the orbs are introduced which you are forced to chase after as they traverse around a set path in the city, but they become pesky annoyances and might prove to belittle the experience.
As with many fans of the original, co-op was one of the most addictive features that the game offered. What was more fun that wreaking havoc by yourself? Experiencing it with a friend. In Crackdown 2, co-op makes a dynamic comeback, allowing not only 2-player co-op, but 4-player as well. Quadruple the action and quadruple the insanity. Co-op has never been more addicting.
One of the odd, and possibly most unnecessary additions, has to be the tacked on multiplayer. You're expected to care about the 16-player multiplayer mode, but are given very little reason to. It implements the unbearably common team-deathmatch modes and is only made worse by the game's highly dependant targeting system. An interesting addition is the rocket-tag mode in which the players are tasked in "tagging" each other with heat seeking rockets while the others attempt to avoid the one who is designated as "it". The simple, chaotic nature might attract and interest players for several hours but after mucking through the shallow campaign, there's not much left you'd want to do with Crackdown 2.
Instead of taking the opportunity to build upon an already brilliant formula, Ruffian Games takes a step-backwards by recycling a map already accustomed to and failing to add a narrative of any kind. It's an enjoyable experience but don't expect to find yourself burning hours into this lifeless re-run of an experience.