The long awaited sequel to the surprise hit Crackdown (2007) has finally arrived. Under the creative hands of ‘Ruffian Games,’ Crackdown 2 dispenses more of the same orb-finding action you would expect, along with a few new improvements to help you and your friends have fun.
Set ten years in the future 'Crackdown 2' puts you back in Pacific City to clean up another disheveled mess of degeneration. However, this time you will be doing more than dispersing with gangs in a hail-fire of bullets. A group of freaks are roaming the night, and they aren’t pretty. Within the first ten minutes, 'Crackdown 2' gets you up to speed with an informative video package and an useless tutorial. Once you have completed the basics, you are ready to head out into the metropolis of madness.
Pacific City Just Got a Whole Lot Uglier
'Crackdown 2' is more of a redesign than a full out sequel, at least that is how it feels. The team at 'Ruffian Games' has kept the core gameplay mechanics nearly identical to the original and then proceeded to add their own twist. The most notable difference would be the two new enemy types along the inclusion of a day and night cycle. In addition, Pacific City has been given a facelift, transforming from a modernized metropolis to a broken down city in rubble. The map hasn't been expanded, only modified to fit the lunacy of the new unnatural threat.
The most interesting opposition you will face in 'Crackdown 2' is the mutated “Freaks” who emerge from their holes when darkness nears. The Freaks are mutated humans who have been infected with an unknown virus. The virus turns its human victims into barbaric monsters who barrage the city to spread their disease. Varying in size, shape, and speed, the Freaks do their damage before the harmful rays of the start pulsating down. See the Freaks burn up like Vampires, ie “just add sun” and much like Vampires, they look more intimidating then they are. Less impressive is how easily they can be defeated, unless you jump into one of their hives. The hurdle of defeating the Freaks is assisted along with some cool new “UV” based weapons like the awesome 'UV Shotgun' and the 'UV Grenade.' As a concept, the Freaks seem like a Ritalin dosed version of the 'Left 4 Dead' zombies. "Zombies," I mean Freaks, are a dime dozen, but that doesn't mean they are useless. The Freaks add a nice horror flavoured twist to super-hero influenced world of 'Crackdown 2;' now only if they next group was more creative.
Mad Max Makes His Return
The second antagonists you will have to deal with is a group of ‘Mad Max’ styled mercs called ‘The Cell.’ This group of rag-tag fighters is more like the enemies you would have seen in the original 'Crackdown.' In the ten years since we have visited Pacific City ‘The Cell’ has taken over most of the city, and the Agency is forced to fight back. Taking out the 'The Cell' is as easy as taking out all their strong houses by whittle their numbers down. Unlike the original you will not be able to remove mid-bosses to weaken their power, it more like the opposite. The more you fight them the stronger they get. Not like it matters, rocket launchers are a beautiful thing. In comparison to the original, I still prefer the original set up. Two enemies just are not enough, and although we have a creative spin with the “Freak virus,” 'Crackdown 2' gets monotonous quickly.
Blow Up the City, Blow Up Your Friends
Along with the two new enemies, 'Crackdown 2' has increased the co-op aspects of the game by adding support for four players in co-op along with a 16 player multiplayer mode. The online multiplayer modes are Rocket Tag, Deathmatch, and Team Deathmatch. Since the other modes are self explanatory, 'Rocket Tag' should be the only mode your are querying. Rocket Tag is a simple variation on a Deathmatch mode where everyone is after one person armed with rocket launchers and unlimited ammo. Just as you might suspect this mode can get messy, and it does. Initially I though Rocket Tag would be the ultimate mode, but tragically, it gets stale quick. The mode that steals the spotlight is surprisingly the ‘Team Deathmatach’ mode. Even though it is a standard, the team-based affair is lots of fun when you add in all of Crackdown 2’s toys.
I Must Collect, I Must Collect, I Must Collect
Not only is 'Crackdown 2' filled with gun-blasting action, online and off. It also has a cool explorative element added into its gameplay in the way of "orbs." Anyone who has played the original can testify, these orbs are the crack in Crackdown. As addictive as methadone, 'Crackdown 2' adds even more orbs, and now in two different varieties. More than your common green agility orbs you will also need to search out the secret orbs and new frustratingly fun 'Renegade orbs.' In total we are looking at a whole lot of orbs (500 agility orbs alone) to make 'Crackdown 2' even more addictive.
One reason why the orbs are so addictive, aside from their sweet emitted hum, is their ability to improve your Agents skill. Like the original you will start as a semi-strong soldier who can increase your abilities when you find orbs or defeat enemies. The skill tree is the same as before, leveling up just as quick. Actually, it might even be quicker given the increased number of adversaries in the game. At night 'Crackdown 2' will be swarmed with hundreds of Freaks to take out, which means it is easy to exploit the system and build up certain capabilities. Hop in a vehicle and put the pedal to the medal! Killing freaks is fun, rewarding, and the quickest way to boost your skills. It is too bad 'Ruffian' couldn't have added a little more variety here. It is good enough, but it could have been better.
Didn't I Already Do This?
Now for the bad, and I know I touched on it a little earlier in the review... 'Crackdown 2' is repetitious. The in-game objectives are the same goals repeated in different parts of a city, a city that you have already explored in the last game. Admitting there is a little fun to be had in revisiting some of the locations, repeating the same motions in them isn't. The fun-factor is still present, because mindless shooting will always be fun, but it's not as fresh, and 'Crackdown 2' starts to smell. In the first few hours, you might be wrapped up in the action (it is fun). However, it doesn’t take long before it wears you out. Instead of removing features, 'Ruffian' should have contributed a few more ideas. It's been three years, hasn't it?
Glitch Me Baby, One More Time
'Crackdown 2' can also be glitchy at times, from items disappearing in your hands, to your own forces targeting you without reason. These "glitches" don't break the game, but when you consider 'Ruffian' has been at the drawing board for so long, it is startling. Also the targeting system needs an overhaul. It often has you auto-locking onto friendly units, or non-combative objects for no reason. Once and while would be fine, but when you are in a heated battle, you want to be shooting the enemies and not the car parked crossed the street. The targeting system doesn't let you jump targets with a click of the button like other 3rd person action games making you re-aim every time you want to lock-on to a target. Frustrating would be the word.
It would have been a real achievement if 'Ruffian' could have met or surpassed the expectations we had for 'Crackdown 2.' Sadly they didn't, and it seems too many other games have beat 'Crackdown' at its own game. 'Crackdown 2' hasn’t improved on its formula by opting for more of the same. More of the same doesn’t have to be a bad thing. However, there isn’t enough in 'Crackdown 2' to rekindle the same awe-inspiring love that we had for the original. 'Crackdown 2' will keep you busy for a while, but it is not exactly what we envisioned. Still, given the excellent co-op game play, the endless amount of hours you can put into its mindless warfare, it is still worth a look.
Gameplay:7.0, Graphics:6.5, Sound:7.2, Innovation:6.6, Mojo:7.8 Final: 7.0 / 10
Reviewed by DowntownJimmy | 07.06.10
- Orb collecting is addictive
- New night and day cycle
- Lots of weapons to play with
- Filled with simplistic "blow up everything" fun
- 4 Player Co-Op
- New Multiplayer mode is a fun diversion
- New orb types to collect
- Gameplay could have used more diversity
- Environments are painfully dull
- Player animations are a little weak
- Didn't I already kill you, little variation in enemies
- Target lock-on could be improved
- Have to do the same objective over and over
- Melee combat is weak sauce
Similar Games: Spider-Man: Web of Shadows (7.4) | Crackdown (8.5) | Prototype (8.7)
Related Articles: Interview with Crackdown 2's lead producer, Jim Cope