Review: Crackdown 2

NOTHING IS SACRED

Developer: Ruffian Games
Genre: Third Person Shooter
Platform: Xbox 360
Release Date: July 6, 2010
Compatability: 100KB Mininum Space | HD 720p | Co-Op 2 | System Link 2
Rating: 6.0

The original Crackdown became a sleeper hit in the early days of the Xbox 360. It really was a first of its kind. The promise of an open world super hero game was one that enticed gamers and was more or less made good on. Some, unfairly, mockingly called Crackdown the free game that came with the sixty dollar beta for Halo 3. The game was good in its own right and without taking the open world genre and adding another layer, recent games like InFamous and Prototype may not have happened. Crackdown 2 has not fared so well. While the first game was ambitious and it was easy to look over its faults, Crackdown 2 is so stuck in the past that the game never differentiates itself from the original. I wish I could say that the game still stands up today but with the games I mentioned earlier, InFamous and Prototype raising the bar, it feels like a sloppily put together incomplete mess. We are left with a game that both looks and feels like it came out two years too late.

The campaign mode makes up the majority of the content and it is not very good. You start by creating an agent that you should not get attached to. The customization options are limited to three or four dyadic options and every time you re-enter the world you choose create another one. The story is so paper thin that it can barely be called a story. I can’t fault the game too much for the lack of narrative however, because the game focuses more on the action that relaying an engrossing tale. You’re an agent, a terrorist organization has taken over parts of the city, and there are mutated ‘freaks’ that come out at night. You have to fight Cell, the terrorists, and purge the city of the freaks. The problem is that these two simple objectives require the same actions over and over again at different point in the city. There are literally 3 mission types that you will complete about twenty-five times each: the reclaiming mission, the beacon activation mission, and the purge mission. Even the narrator makes a reference to this when you complete one of each. He pretty much says “yeah that’s the game, now go”. This lack of variety is excruciating at times.

From the original, the game improved visually. But this doesn't mean that Crackdown 2 is better.

Thankfully the orbs are back. Littered throughout Pacific City are floating green orbs, 500 of them, and when you collect enough of them your agility levels up. With high agility come increased speed, jump length and distance, along with other small improvements. Having a high enough agility level becomes a requirement for some of the last missions and orbs. They added renegade orbs that, when prompted, will run away from your character requiring you to chase after them. The first couples are really fun but as the game goes on they becomes capable of turns and maneuvers that you yourself are not which makes them kind of cheap. I am happy to say that the orb collection is still fun and I found myself, on numerous occasions, telling myself “just one more” and then after another thirty minutes, and twenty orbs, finally putting my controller down. You find these orbs by platforming your way across the city. The game world is open from the start and you can go anywhere. The biggest complain it has about the game is that the platforming is inconsistent and boring. There is no real logic to what you can climb on and what you can’t. A second ago you may have dangled from a windowsill, but now you can’t climb on an identical windowsill, literally the same texture, on the building next to it. Along with the agility orbs leveling up your agility you have a couple of other stats such as firearms, explosives, melee, and driving. These all level up as you use them. If you shoot a lot then your gun skill will increase after a while. The same goes for melee and all the rest. The system works pretty well. The only real complaint is that with only a possible six levels it does start to take a while to level up but not unattainably so.

The multiplayer was lauded as a main selling point but unfortunately it is flawed and not as advertised. The prospect of co-op play through the entire campaign is awesome but the execution is off. You can have up to four player co-op in the campaign but only the host will receive the credit and progression your party receives. This begs the question then of what’s the point. The campaign isn’t very good so why you would want to play through it with your friends is kind of a mystery. There is also a selection of competitive multiplayer modes but they are mostly standard fare. The best part about the multiplayer experience is the online only orbs in the game. These are like the agility orbs, but like their name hints, you can only get them when you are playing co-op. Sometimes they are harder to get than the single player orbs and it makes the single player even less interesting when you find an orb you can’t get because you’re playing by yourself.

If you didn't like Crackdown, then don't bother playing this. There are better open world games available.

The graphics and sound are, for the most part, adequate. The game has a soft cell shaded look to it that compliments the game pretty nicely. The game never takes itself seriously and the graphics compliment nicely. The game is so ridiculously over the top at times that it does feel as though you are in a cartoon and I prefer this visual style over a more serious one, for Crackdown at least. The game looks better than the first one but not by as much as you would hope. The sound is fine with some interesting music selections in cars. The only problem is that I rarely drove around, preferring to jump and climb my way around the city. The voice work by your superior is rather humorous at times, even stopping to point out a new achievement. The sound and graphics are fine, and while nothing special, do not detract from the experience.

I had high hopes for Crackdown 2 and it is most definitely a letdown. The game has not evolved from the original in any major way. The first game had many faults but we over looked them because it was a new concept and it was early in a brand new console cycle. We should not have done the same thing with the second one three years later. There are better games on the market within this genre that do what Crackdown 2 wanted to do, and do it a lot better. Crackdown 2 is not a terrible game but unfortunately it isn’t a good game.

Reviewed by jamespugh5 – September 19, 2010

Graphics
Interesting visuals add a bit to the feel of the game.
 
Sound
Some interesting tracks and voice work.
 
Fun
If you really loved Crackdown and just want more of the same then you may have some fun with number 2.
 
Final Score

 

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