Review – Crackdown 2
3rd Person Shooter/Platformer/Sandbox
Killing in the name of (again).
The original Crackdown was released back in 2007 and was most well known for simply containing a multiplayer demo of Halo 3. A lot of people bought the game just for that demo, but many that gave Crackdown a chance came away pleasantly surprised. Yes, it was an open world game but it was far more of a superhero simulation than a GTA-clone. You could leap buildings in a single bound, throw around cars and simply cause mayhem. And best of all you could play the entire game in two player co-op.
Here we are three years later and Crackdown 2 is being released. Whereas the original was created by Realtime Worlds, Crackdown 2 has been made by Ruffian Games. Generally I worry when I hear a series has changed hands, but Ruffian is partially made of people who worked on the original Crackdown so let’s not pass judgement just yet.
Upon starting the game anyone that has played the original will be right at home. You start off with a mini-tutorial this time where you go through the basics of jumping and attacking but you’ll very quickly get into the game proper and the dÃ©jÃ vu kicks into overdrive. You’ll see enemies fighting with Peacekeepers, Agility Orbs and explosive barrels â€“ basically the same sort of things as the first game. There are minor differences here though. The enemies fighting the Peacekeepers aren’t one of three gangs anymore, there is only one ‘gang’ and that’s ‘The Cell’, an anti-Agency (the guys you work for) group. Also, freaks now roam the streets at night.
Freaks aren’t particularly tough but gather in huge numbers and can slowly chip away at your shields if you get caught in a group of them. During the day time they go into hiding underground and clearing out these nests are one of the major missions in the game. There are also ‘Freak Breaches’ which are areas on the surface which must be sealed to stop freaks pouring out of them. There are two other major mission types in the game, one is taking over Cell territories and turning them into Agency drop points (where you can request weapons and vehicles), and the other is activating Sunburst beacons which allow you to destroy the freak nests.
Unfortunately every single one of these missions simply involves killing a certain amount of enemies, whether Cell or freak. That’s it. There’s no escort missions or get a package from A to B or any stealth missions, every mission is just point and shoot and survive. But honestly, the main missions aren’t the real draw of Crackdown 2 as anyone who’s played the original will know. You can easily complete the storyline (though there is little story to speak of) in just over five hours if that’s all you do, but Crackdown 2 has a lot more to give.
When you start the game your agent will be stronger than the average person, but he won’t be anything too impressive. As you perform certain actions, such as killing an enemy with guns, explosives or your fists, you’ll slowly gain experience and grow stronger in those specific fields. You have agility (upgraded by collecting Agility Orbs from building tops) which allows you to jump higher and run faster, strength (upgraded by physically attacking people) which makes you stronger, allowing you to pick up trucks and throw objects further, driving (upgraded by completing races and running over enemies) which unlocks new Agency vehicles, firearms (upgraded by killing enemies with guns) which unlocks new weapons and explosives (upgraded by killing enemies with grenades) which unlocks new grenades and makes your explosions bigger.
You can upgrade these skills in any order and at rate you wish and I imagine this is what will grab most players. It won’t take a huge amount of time to get your agent to level five in everything but while it lasts you’ll be hooked trying to get your agility/strength/whatever to the next level to see how badass you become. By the end of the game you can glide across the city, drive a tank, fling trucks around like they’re toys and cause massive explosions with a single grenade.
By this point you’ll probably be invested in the collectables as well. There are the aforementioned Agility Orbs (of which there are 500), but there are also Hidden Orbs (300), Live Orbs (which can only be collected with a co-op partner, there are 80), and Renegade Orbs (30 agility and 15 driving). Renegade Orbs are new to Crackdown 2 and a pain in the ass. They are basically the same as regular orbs except for the small fact that they move. You have to chase them down either on foot or in a car and it can be a painful experience, but luckily there aren’t that many of them.
There are also 52 audio logs to be found around the city which develop what little story the game has, so that’s 925 collectibles altogether. It sounds like a huge amount but the difficulty seems to be pitched just right so that you’ll easily find most of them and by the time things become difficult you’ll want to find the last ten or so of each. So the real meat of Crackdown 2 doesn’t come from the main game itself, but what wouldn’t even amount to sidequests in most games.
Bah! I knew it. I fucking knew it. I was happily waiting for Crackdown 2 to roll around after loving the previous game to DEATH but as it got closer I realised something. It’s not going to be as good. As sure as night follows day, I knew it would never match up to the original’s charming brilliance.
While Gareth here can tell you the ins and outs of it, here’s the short version. Same game as before. Less pretty. Same area to run around in but now lacking the personality that the gangs gave it. No longer do you get the residential, industrial and financial district feel. Now it’s one big urban mess with some cunts in it. At night the cunts are like zombies.
But for all the obvious disappointments, it’s Crackdown all over again but with more players (four player co-op all over your mum) so await the inevitable price crash and pick this is up for sub-£20. That’ll balance out the catholic guilt that you’ll get from buying the same game twice.
Secondary Score: 6/10
There are also Stunt Rings you have to drive a vehicle through, Wingsuit Rings you have to glide through, Rooftop Races and Road Races. Also I have yet to mention that the game is playable throughout in up four player co-op. As soon as you add just one friend to the mix the game becomes quite a bit easier (there are multiple difficulties however), but also the possibilities for fun increase infinitely. Try a little two on two football with a beach ball or just have everyone equip magnetic grenades and see how much havoc you can cause.
Hardly worth mentioning is the multiplayer mode they’ve added for the sequel. There are three modes, Rocket Tag where one player is the target and everyone is equipped with rocket launchers, Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. I’m not a massive online shooter fan anyway, but these held my attention for all of five minutes before I loaded up the single player game again. There are a few people playing these modes but unfortunately the ability to jump stupidly high and glide around loses something when everyone can do it and you’re confined to relatively small arenas.
The biggest negative you can level at Crackdown 2 is that it is simply far too similar to the first game. The graphics have improved a little and are certainly more solid with a greater draw distance and they seem to have realised that the collectibles were the real draw of the original and so have added a lot more, but the lack of variety in the main missions, the fact that there is little story to uncover and the multiplayer are all a big let down. If you loved the original Crackdown and are gagging for some more then there is no need to wait, this is exactly what you want. Others who never played the original will find a really enjoyable and addictive game here, but you will also be able to find the original game for much, much cheaper and there is little reason to recommend Crackdown 2 over it. I have enjoyed it though. I’m looking forward to some more co-op sessions in the near future and lord knows I can’t stop at 492 agility orbs out of 500.