Crackdown 2 Review
Oh, Pacific City, what have you become? Where are your once-beautiful towers, architecture and skylines? Your diverse denizens, kept in place by law and order? Allow me to weep for a moment at your demise: 10 years have been cruel to your pretty looks, and reduced you to a pox-ridden, broken shadow of your former self. And why are there all these terrorists and mutants ravaging your streets?
So, Crackdown 2 has landed, and can pretty much be summed up with the words “If it ainīt broke..”. As an agent of the (appropriately named) Agency, you are a souped-up crimefighter, using tools and skills at your disposal to halt the spread of fear, corruption and zombies in your beloved city. As in the first title, your playing ground is once again Pacific City, which whilst geographically remains similar to the original, has become a husk of its former self. Your agent, tooled with a few weapons, some basic abilities and a flash car are all that stands between an epidemic, a terrorist cell and the denizens of the city. Along the way, you pick up orbs (of which more in a minute), which augment your skills and abilities, leading to you eventually leaping skyscrapers, throwing trucks and even fly (well, glide a long way…). Sound familiar? Yup, if you played the original, you got more of the same, with a few cherries on top.
Visually, C2 is a bit of a mess: some textures are blurry, the city looks shabby, and a lot of the lovely colour from the original is gone. The crisp cel-shading is still decent on most models, but explosions donīt seem as epic as they did before. Sound is also average: receiving messages from the Agency is pretty cool, but the bulk of the game is populated with weak-sounding effects and poor dialogue. And performance is spotty too: thanks to the gameīs liking for making things tougher by merely throwing more enemies at you, the framerate dips and chugs at regular intervals, causing the action to feel laborious during the most epic combat sections.
A world with interesting stuff to play with
The plot is a waste of time: you get a bit of story at the beginning, before the game essentially forgets it and sends you off on random collect and fight quests. But we donīt play Crackdown for the story – we do it for the orbs. Crackdown 2 is another collectors dream – sure, thereīs a story line with quests and the suchlike, but the real reason to play is the orbs. There are now more types than before – hidden ones, high up ones, driving ones, renegade ones that run away from you, and co-op ones that only become available in a co-op game. As with many sandbox titles, the act of running around finding stuff and trying things out make up a large portion of the game – unlocking new cars and weapons lets you try for faster drives and bigger fights.
Which leads on to the biggest new addition – four player co-op. This does indeed rock, although not in the intended way – co-op allows for a much higher level of “dicking about”, and the ruined city is good fun for having races, explosion competitions and just about anything else your twisted little minds can come up with.
The one biggest shame with Crackdown 2 is its approach to missions – rather than attempt some depth to quests and the enemies occupying them, the developers decided to just keep throwing bigger numbers of enemies at you from mission to mission. Whilst this does test your upgrading skills, it feels like a cheap trick, and a lack of effort overall – indeed, it seems appropriate to call Crackdown 2 “Crackdown 1.5” – little has been changed, and the main additions feel a bit tacked on, like some half decent fan mod.
The truth is, it isnīt a bad game, but certainly not a great one – opportunities have been missed for making something truly outstanding in favour of a cheap cash-in (something that seems to be true of a lot of sequels from the last 12 months). If you enjoyed the original, and all the orb collecting, you will get a lot out of the sequel. It wonīt convert any new fans to its cause, but does manage to do what it does passably – a world with interesting stuff to play with, freed from a closed narrative or any main direction. And if your friends have a copy, all the better – messing around in groups is great fun, so long as you stay away from the missions.
The Bad: Little effort to make it a fully fledged sequel, Visually unimpressive, Linear missions