Crackdown 2 Xbox 360
Published by: Microsoft Game Studios
Developed by: Ruffian Games
The original Crackdown game, a third-person open world action game, was in some respects a surprise hit. Cynics may claim that part of its success was due to the fact that it provided access to the Halo 3 multiplayer beta, and given the phenomenal popularity of the Halo series that’s a fair point, but there’s no denying that the game was enjoyable in its own right. The experience was an addictive one with you playing as a law enforcement officer who collected attribute boosting orbs which gave you incredible abilities.
Once again we find ourselves back in Pacific City, which is looking a little worse for wear thanks to the conflicts that are raging. Playing as a law enforcement officer known simply as Agent, the basic idea is to eradicate the Freak Virus that’s ravaging the city. You’ll have to contend with vigilantes by day and at night you’ll have hordes of zombie-like Freaks to square off against. In effect Pacific City has become a warzone. There isn’t much of a storyline to Crackdown 2. There are set objectives to complete and it will take you around a dozen hours or so to complete all of them (dependent on the difficulty you’re playing on of course). You will find audio logs scattered around the city and these do help to give you some background story to the events in the game but ultimately they are no substitute for a real storyline and Crackdown 2 could definitely have benefitted from having one.
Whilst it’s going to take you around a dozen hours or so to complete the game’s objectives you are free to roam the city and pretty much do as you please. You’ll certainly want to at times too, as you continue your pursuit of orbs and take part in activities that will enhance your agent’s capabilities. The Agent’s base abilities are Agility, Firearms, Strength, Explosions and Driving. To enhance your driving abilities for instance you can use vehicles to mow down enemies or take part in road races. Agility can be enhanced by engaging in rooftop races or by collecting agility orbs (which are suitably placed in areas where you’ll need to climb to get them). You’ll also find hidden orbs if you explore the city and there are also the moving renegade orbs that you must chase down. In short it’s a system that works well and rewards your style of playing the game as it hones the skills you continually use.
Whilst the game may lack a storyline, it’s certainly not lacking when it comes to action. It can be really enjoyable to simply roam Pacific City and carry out your own form of retribution against the freaks and vigilantes. There are many objectives to carry out of course although the lack of variety of objectives is unfortunate. A greater variety of enemies would also have been appreciated. Some of the fun elements are soured a little too. Whilst it’s perfectly fine to mow down the Freaks that fill the roads after dark in night time road races,daytime road races can become annoying when pedestrians get in the way and climbing buildings can be more cumbersome than it needs to be thanks to it not always being clear about what ledges can be grabbed. Minor issues aside however Crackdown 2 is enjoyable and it’s quite easy to take a break from the objectives to explore and do what you want.
Of course it can be even more fun when you’re playing with friends. Both co-operative and competitive multiplayer gaming is catered for in Crackdown 2. Co-operatively the game supports up to four players and the game can be really enjoyable when played in this fashion although it’s a shame that the campaign progress is only recorded on the host’s game which does lessen the appeal for those who aren’t hosting the game. However, there are orbs in the game that can only be collected when you’re playing over Xbox Live so if you’re determined to get all of them you’ll want to head online. Whilst the co-operative multiplayer experience can be enjoyable, the same can’t be said for the three competitive multiplayer modes (which supports up to 16 players) which just aren’t that interesting.
Crackdown 2 retains the look that was established in the first, providing a hybrid mix of cel-shading and realism. That’s not to say the game looks particularly impressive in anyway but there’s a lot to be said for games that have a unique look. The character models aren’t as detailed as they could be but they look OK and the vehicles look marginally better. Perhaps more importantly, the frame rate, for the most part, manages to hold up really well even when there are a lot of characters or vehicles on screen. Even more impressive is that you won’t encounter any load times whilst exploring Pacific City and this certainly helps to keep the action move at a solid pace.
Like the original game, Crackdown 2 is subtitled although they aren’t enabled by default. The subtitles are displayed in a dialogue box meaning the text is easy to read. Not all of the speech is subtitled but what is omitted is usually of very little importance. Other peripheral comments aren’t subtitled but these are of no importance so it doesn’t represent a problem. The audio logs that you’ll find scattered around Pacific City are subtitled which is actually quite important as it’s only these that help to give you some semblance of storyline. Your objectives are shown in text, and can be recalled at any time, so you’ll always be aware of what need to be done.
Crackdown 2 will please those who are looking for more of the kind of action that made the original game so popular. Those who were hoping for the game to have evolved may be a little disappointed because there’s not a lot that’s changed here, at the very least there’s little to make this a unique experience. Not everyone wants a sequel to differ greatly from the original however and it’s a fair bet that if Crackdown was a game to your liking and you want more of the same then Crackdown 2 will also hit the spot. Essentially Crackdown 2 is enjoyable but thanks to a few niggles, none of which are serious, it is not as enjoyable as it could have been.