Crackdown 2 Review

Pacific City has changed. Its citizens have changed. The Agent has changed. But Crackdown 2 isn’t that big of a change. Whether or not it scratches that open-world, rooftop-hopping itch will still determine your preference for the game, given some fixes and small additions from the first game. It’s just as fun to use those juiced-up peacekeeper powers to take out a gang, freaks, police, and civilians, and the addition of 16-player online PvP matches add a welcome dash of variety. For some, Crackdown 2 will be every bit the must-play, cartoon-infused city-conquering experience the series is known for, but others will likely be disappointed by the lack of new material.

For those unfamiliar with the first game, Crackdown casts players as an Agent tasked with cleaning up the gang-infested streets of Pacific City. His arsenal of powers grow gradually throughout the game, eventually allowing him to scale every building in the city, blasting away at various gang bosses using rocket launchers, machine guns, grenades; the standard arsenal. Crackdown 2 brings that all back but ten years in the future when a freak virus unwittingly let loose on the city by the Agent of the first game has ravaged the city to the point of utter anarchy. The Agency (you’ll still be working for that menacing voice) is trying to put a lid on the activities of a resistance organization known as Cell — the only real human enemies in the game — while simultaneously putting into effect a network of beacons that will, theoretically, eradicate the zombie infestation.

Crackdown 2

So instead of taking out gang leaders by infiltrating a wide variety of compound types, players will be securing the city in two ways: By 1) finding tactical Cell stronghold locations (usually just a street corner or rooftop) and firefighting Cell soldiers until air support can arrive, and 2) activating energy beams, three of which will allow the agent to plant a beacon in a freak lair which has to be protected from sudden waves of freak attacks. These two main objectives are awfully repetitive, though they do escalate slowly in difficulty. By the end (around 10 hours) I was hoping that these were just a phase of the game, but was disappointed to find the end come so swiftly. While Ruffian Games cranked out the entire experience in a short 8 months of development, maybe some more time could have fleshed out the rather short main quests.

Thankfully, that’s about the only area where Crackdown 2 doesn’t improve on the original. Collectibles come in a number of forms, ranging from the 500 agility orbs, 300 hidden orbs, new "renegade" agility and driving orbs that require a little chasing to get, and audio logs. It may not be the most original idea, but the addition of 5 unique, recurring voices, each with their own story to tell and secrets to reveal makes the city feel more real and alive. There are also rooftop and street races, and a handful of stunt rings for high-flying car action, but because running is almost as fast and much more efficient, most driving challenges are kind of tacked on.

While it may seem small, the integration of the game and the Xbox 360 actually offers cool bonuses that multiplatform titles might not have. For example, when completing an achievement, the narrative Agency voice actually announces the achievement to you with a short remark. Also, certain milestones unlock avatar gear, and Xbox Live orbs can be found across Pacific City that enhance stats for those playing cooperatively online. And speaking of online, though the experience at the time of writing this review is hampered by the small amount of players with the game, joining and hosting cooperative play is surprisingly easy and fluid. If you want your friends to help clean up your city, then you just invite them while you’re playing, and vice versa.

In terms of new mechanics, there’s not too much to speak of until the end of the game, shortening the enjoyment of some of the game’s best additions. When the stats are maxed out for each track (guns, explosives, strength, agility, driving), players are rewarded with upgrades like access to more cars and weapons. Also, maxed-out strength allows players to perform a much appreciated ground pound technique that comes in handy when dealing with hordes of zombies. And maxed-out agility gives the agent wings that allow for a fun, if somewhat clunky, drifting ability. But again, almost all of these benefits will almost certainly come towards the end of the game, so their novelty is unfortunately short-lived.

Aside from the short main quests and a few small gripes (infrequently slowed frame rate, the hang-ups of the targeting system), Crackdown 2 expands on the empowering open-world gameplay that made the first game popular. If you are looking for a brand new game, you won’t find it, but a slightly darker, smoldering Pacific City is certainly worth a second spin.

3 out of 5



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Author: Dan Crabtree View all posts by
Dan is Managing Editor for GamerNode and a freelance gaming writer. His dog is pretty great. Check him out on Twitter @DanRCrabtree.

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