Review – Crackdown 2 (X-Box 360)

Crackdown 2 Cover Art

Time to crack down, Agent!

What’s it about?

Ten years have passed since Pacific City was cleansed of gang-violence, and things have gone to hell! The city is over-run by “freaks” – citizens infected with a manufactured virus that turns them into mindless-killing machines. It’s up to you, as the latest batch of cloned Super-Agents to clean up the city of these freaks and the Cell Terrorists who have their own agenda…

Review it:

I bought Crackdown when I first got an x-box 360 and spent a lot of time on that game even after I’d completed the main story. I’d been anticipating the sequel quite highly and was really hoping it wouldn’t let me down.

Game Engine

Cell-shading is applied nicely here, and the graphics are a definite step-up from the first game. The graphical-style suits the game perfectly, helping the player feel like they are part of a comic-book world, especially as their agent powers up.

Freaks abound at night - plenty of pretty popping to do!

Freaks abound at night - plenty of pretty popping to do!

One of my favourite features of the game is that the character you control doesn’t suffer from what I call “video-game-hero-step-syndrome”. This is where your character, the saviour of the universe can’t even tackle shin-high steps or slopes of more than a 10% incline. In Crackdown 2, you can pretty much get to every square inch of the game, using any protrubance to help you climb and you can balance on pretty much anything other than a vertical slope. This helps make you feel so much more heroic. Well – it does me anyway.

The Physics in the game are outrageous – cars can be sent flying over edges and bodies will often travel quite a way before hitting the ground. Whereas that felt quite obtrusive in say Mercenaries 2 (see my review here – plug plug), in the super-agent world of Crackdown 2, it adds something of a thrill. Juggling cars with Ultra-Violet Shotguns or rockets may not be “realistic”, but by heck it’s fun!

The sound of the city is pretty well realised too – I can’t comment on the music in the game as I’m one of those people who turns it off before starting. As you travel around, the civilians will offer passing-comments either pro-agency or negative towards them. Even the local police have mixed reactions to the agent’s presence. In fact I clouted one guy who suggested he could beat me in a fight. He flew off a cliff in quite a satisfying manner. The sound of the air rushing as you make mighty leaps and the crunch of the pavement as you land are all satisfying to my humble ears.

Gameplay

Speaking of leaping and landing – the core of Crackdown 2’s gameplay remains the same as the first game’s. You start off as a pretty regular trained guy but as you use each of your skills, your abilities improve. Collecting Agility Orbs that are dotted around the city is the main method of increasing the height and distance you can leap, for example. Killing terrorists or freaks with weapons improves fire-arms abilities. Using … you get the idea. As your agent improves, new weapons and vehicles become available from the Agency drop-points. Personally, I preferred the fact that all weapons were used around the city and you could store them at supply points in the first game rather than them being “level based” weapons. A nice feature is that now the orbs you’ve collected show up on your map screen – making it easier for completists to track their progress.

Also missing from the first game is the transforming of Agency vehicles. The only reason I increased my driving skill in CD 1 was to get the super-car to look like a batmobile and getting the SUV to look like a monster truck. Worse is the fact that this alteration is completely ignored in the game’s lore. Not a passing mention of machine-gun enabled super-cars is made. Hey ho. Included though is the ability to store vehicles that you come across in the city at Agency drop-points which you can then use at a later date by calling for a vehicle drop. Even this element is not new, however as it was included in the DLC available for Crackdown.

My final minor negative point is to do with the aiming. Sometimes, the lock-on feature will target the “wrong” item in a group ofe enemies – perhaps locking on to a Cell vehicle rather than the terrorist infront of it that you wanted to shoot in the head. That said, once locked on, a simple flick of the right thumb-stick changes the specific area of your target being aimed at which will alter the effect of your attack on the target. Simple – but effective system that I feel should be implemented in more third-person games.

A new addition is that of the Agency Wing-suit that is obtained at level 4 Agility and the inclusion of a Helicopter. These open up the skies to agents which allow for even more death-defying stunts. The wing-suit is tricky to master, and I found the best way to learn is to get in a helicopter, fly up high and leap out. From there you have plenty of space to practice before trying to use the suit (which is sort of a hang-glider affair) within the rooftops of the city itself.

Crackdown 2 - Using the Wingsuit

Wingsuiting across Pacific City - nice way to see the sights.

I know I’ve mentioned a few niggles there, but please don’t misunderstand me. Crackdown 2 is the perfect “fun” game. I’ve yet to play co-operatively but am eager to do so. 4 Agents bouncing around the city sounds pretty cool to me, having experienced 2 player fun in the previous game. I reckon just by sticking to the story’s objectives, Crackdown 2 can be easily completed in a fun-filled weekend. If, like me, you’re easily distracted, a playthrough can last much much longer – and that’s without taking part in the various races that are scattered around the city or engaging in co-op play.

There’s just something intrinsically fun about being able to leap from roof-top to rooftop, engage in a bit of combat and then leap-away again. I can honestly spend an hour at a time not progressing the story, just enjoying the simple-gameplay and finding those darn orbs with out noticing the time or getting frustrated. And that to me marks a great game. One you can come back to over and over again. Job done, Agent.

Overall

Personally, I love this game. I loved the first one and this gave me exactly what I wanted for the most part. That said, the lack of new features make this a very “safe” sequel and I miss the transform-a-car element from the first game.

Rate it: 4 / 5 – Not perfect and with little innovation, but the gameplay is simple and fun which makes up for it.
Dry Slaps: 0
Buy / Rent / Avoid: If you only play a game through once, Rent. Otherwise, it’s a Buy.

Reviewer: WedgeDoc

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One comment

  1. I’ve always wanted to play this game. I am a huge fan of cel-shading and I feel like this game would fill my gaming needs. If I haven’t played the first one, do you think I can just jump right into Crackdown 2, or should I slow my roll and get the first game out of the way?
    Great review guys!

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