Crackdown sold over a million copies in ’07 with much of its success attributed to it serving as an entry into the Halo 3 beta. Those who bothered to play it found an enjoyable action game full of wanton mayhem and some loose ends. It became a sleeper hit and fans waited patiently for a sequel. Well three years later you’d think there would be cause for celebration since Crackdown 2 (Xbox 360) is on store shelves. Actually, it’s a little more complicated than that.
The game largely plays as a variant of “capture the base” throughout Pacific City. Cell, the gang that terrorizes the city across its three boroughs, has multiple strongholds across the map you need to take over. Additionally you’re tasked to activate absorption units that power solar-powered beacons. These bombs serve as kryptonite to the Freaks: the game’s night dwelling humanoid foes. The bombs are placed in “freak lairs” and start huge stand offs when triggered. Doing these main objectives may become monotonous on your own. Thankfully, the game features four player online co-op so you can play the campaign with friends. Co-op makes the main objectives and side missions far more enjoyable as you work together to take advantage of the game’s open-ended structure. You can do the missions in any order with certain sections of the city being more difficult to seize than others.
New abilities, weapons and vehicles are enhanced the same way as Crackdown 2’s predecessor: via routine shooting, fighting, bombing, running over enemies or whatever else you can think of. The most noteworthy additions include the glide suit that enables flight, helicopters you can pilot, mag grenades (pictured above) that stick anything from lamp posts to buses together and renegade orbs that float away when you chase them. Orb hunting is still a draw from the first game and is easier with a new locational ping. Now you don’t have to grit your teeth as you search high and low for hundreds of agility, hidden, renegade and Xbox Live orbs that require a teammate’s presence to pick up. Deathmatch and team deathmatch aren’t much to shout about. Rocket Tag, basically keep away with rocket launchers, serves as a fun diversion every now and then. All in all the additions are decent but they allude to some important gripes that I have with this sequel.
This game offers marginal add-ons in lieu of substantial improvements to the original’s formula. The same flaws of its predecessor persist and it brings new problems not seen inCrackdown. Auto aim is finicky at times and you can’t zoom in when sniping anymore. The camera is still too slow to keep up with the action especially when your agent becomes more athletic. Climbing buildings ledge by ledge was alright three years ago but it feels clunky now with newer games offering more nuanced scaling controls. Also, things can get choppy when tons of explosions litter the screen. Progress made in the relatively short campaign in co-op only goes to whoever hosts the game. Everyone else only gets experience towards leveling up their agent and can gain new weapons. Lastly, everything takes place in the same city from the original. It’s more dilapidated and some areas look much different. But a new, bigger and more complex city with an interesting array of objectives would’ve went a long way in boosting the game’s value.
Crackdown 2 is at its best and provides plenty of laughs when played cooperatively. Yet it doesn’t offer enough compelling content and advancements to warrant it as a fully realized sequel. It’s more recommendable to those that missed out on the first game but even then there isn’t enough here to justify a $60 tag. Your best bet is to check the demo out/rent it, and if you want to cop, wait until it’s on sale for under 30 bones. In closing, Crackdown 2 is like that underachiever that could’ve gotten straight A’s with full ride at an Ivy League school. Its fine with racking up C+’s and can’t wait to continue its career at East Homeboy A&M.