Crackdown 2

7.0 Overall Score

Written by on July 13, 2010 in

Welcome back, Agent!  It’s been ten years since the Agency cleared Pacific City of those pesky gangs, but new threats have reared their ugly heads. Those zombie-like freaks have multiplied and run rampant on city streets. There’s also a new group called The Cell.  You can call them a new gang.  They call themselves freedom fighters.  The Agency would call them terrorists.  Whatever name you give them, Cell’s goal is to undermine the Agency’s authority. Between the two, Pacific City is crumbling beneath the weight of Cell violence and the freak infestation. Streets are blocked by barricades. Buildings are falling apart from vandalism and neglect. The smoke from small fires pock-mark the once beautiful urban landscape.

What’s an Agent to do? An Agent does what he’s trained to do: rid the city of these undesirables.

The goal is to activate beam-emitting Absorption Units scattered throughout Pacific City. Once a network of these units are activated, your HUD will update with a beacon location.  But it won’t be easy.  An Agent must defend that freak-obliterating beacon while it powers up and becomes operational.

Although beacon activation is the primary goal of the game, there’s plenty of other things to do in Pacific City along the way. Liberate Cell strongholds. Clear freak-spouting craters called Freak Breaches.  Hunt for Agility and Hidden orbs. Chase down Renegade Orbs.  As with the first game, the more enemies you defeat, the more weapons you can collect. The more tasks you accomplish, the more you can upgrade your Agent’s various abilities.

Undoubtedly, the acts of shooting and driving and blowing things up are great fun for a while, but the luster wears off after you’ve activated a couple beacons. Not only do they become routine, some technical issues put a damper on the experience. For instance, any coolness derived from being able to target specific body parts is marred by a spotty lock-on feature. There were too many times where I placed my reticle on a specific bad guy only to lock onto a passing car or a random barrel once I pressed the left trigger. Luckily, these problems aren’t severe enough to deflate the Crackdown experience as a whole.

The fun is extended into multiplayer in the form of Arena.  You would think that competitive multiplayer in the Crackdown setting would be the bees knees.  However, with only Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Rocket Tag being the only modes available in isolated parts of the city, the experience doesn’t feel as memorable as it sounds.  What is more compelling is the cooperative play, especially with 3 other friends either completing objectives or just running amok.  As a guest, you can keep any orbs and attribute improvements, but campaign progress only gets credited to the host.

Despite these mulitplayer additions, Crackdown 2 may feel like more of the same, perhaps to a fault. The layout of Pacific City, while remaining geographically large, is the same as the first game. The only meaningful differences are predominantly cosmetic. The original Pacific City was made up of areas distinguishable by different gangs and architecture. Your caricatured targets had a comic book sensibility with roles to play in the grand scheme of Pacific City lore. In Crackdown 2, your objectives are replaced by anonymous spheres that you have to activate, and yet more spheres that you have to babysit while hordes of freaks attack. As a result, much of charm from the first game is lost in the homogenization of the different gangs into a single faction.

From a narrative perspective, there are only hints of the plot told with sparse radio transmissions and audio recordings you may happen upon throughout the city. Unfortunately, what Ruffian offers by way of story is sparse and, by the time the credits roll, doesn’t add much to the game. I would even go so far as to say that unless you find a significant amount of the audio clips, the plot will be a bit obtuse.

This begs a question that Crackdown veterans will have to answer for themselves: Even with fellow Agents a la Xbox Live, how far can these seemingly unremarkable differences carry the experience?  How different is different enough?  Mileage will vary.

However you answer that question, there should be no doubt that there’s plenty to enjoy. Newcomers and return visitors alike will find that leaping from building to building never gets old. Zombies being the latest videogame cliché, freaks scratch that undead, brain-chomping itch. The open city offers a wide expanse to discover or rediscover while providing enough objectives to keep any would-be Agent busy. On the other side of that coin, Crackdown 2 is hampered by a sense of progression that eventually becomes a grind, losing a bit of charm along the way.  Fortunately, the same-y feeling isn’t enough to negate what the game does well.

Taking the good with the bad in the overall balance of things, the only question worth answering is “Is it fun?”  At the end of the day, my answer is “Yes”.

Enough talk, Agent!  There are beacons to activate and freaks to deal with.  Get to it!

A copy of Crackdown 2 was provided to The Married Gamers for the purposes of review and evaluation.

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Author: John Catuira View all posts by

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