|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ruffian Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Microsoft Game Studios||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: TBD 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Caleb Newby
December 2, 2009 - With the plethora of big time AAA games coming out in time for holiday wish lists, it's hard to focus much on what's beyond the 2009 horizon. Yet it's inevitable that sooner or later (and let's be honest here, probably sooner) that we'll be looking for our next fix once we've exhausted all there is to do in Assassin's Creed 2, Dragon Age, or whatever your games of choice are. One of the titles to keep an eye on, scheduled for release in 2010, is the open-world shooter, Crackdown 2.
For a bit of behind the scenes history, the original Crackdown title, a surprise hit in 2007, was developed by the independent Scotland studio Realtime Worlds. After finishing Crackdown, Realtime Worlds went to work committing to other projects. But any big time hit needs a sequel, and new studio Ruffian Games has been charged with the task of releasing Crackdown 2 to an eager audience. The good news is Ruffian Games is made up of several former members of Realtime Worlds who worked directly on the original Crackdown. Got all that? Ok, with that history and perspective out of the way, let's get to what you can expect in Crackdown 2.
Much like in the original, Crackdown 2 puts you in control of a superhuman character with a whole city to use as your playground. If you missed the first Crackdown game, think Grand Theft Auto with supercharged abilities. Abilities like picking up cars and throwing them at bad guys. Abilities like jumping from street to rooftop. Things you'd expect a superhero to do, except with a lot less primary colors and capes.
Crackdown 2 is once again set in Pacific City, and players control the "Agent" working for the "Agency". Ten years after the end of Crackdown, Pacific City is overrun with gang warfare. Particularly daunting are the creatures that come out at night that rule the streets, known simply as "freaks". Freaks are the result of a citywide viral outbreak that has the unfortunate effect of supercharging enemies, so they will actually pose a bit of a problem to your street-keeping deity. It was easy to plow your way through all comers by the end of the original Crackdown without even considering death as a possibility. Freaks should rectify that situation and inject some much-needed challenge scale as the game progresses. Of course, if you liked walking and jumping your way knowing no soul could do more than put a scratch on your flesh, this may be a bad thing.
Other improvements focus on expanded options and customization over a revamped core game. Think "more and expanded". Your Agent will have more super-powered upgrades and weapons at their disposal than before. A new and improved sniper gun, magnetic grenades, and a UV shotgun that will be particularly effective against the night-dwelling freaks have all been announced so far. On the ability front, the same skill sets return, albeit greatly improved. The driving skill will unlock what is being called a "special helicopter," while the agility skill unlocks a dash maneuver. Co-op will also return, this time supporting four players via Xbox LIVE, while a competitive multiplayer mode allows up to 16 players at once.
One area fans will be glad to hear is receiving a revamp is the missions. They will still be able to be done in any order and as free flowing as before, but now with a greater variety, such as missions geared towards infiltration and sabotage. Fan dissatisfaction of the repetitive mission types of the original should be pleased, as Ruffian Games has said this is a particular point of emphasis.
All in all, Crackdown 2 is shaping up to be an improved version of the original. Over the top mayhem and silly fun are still the names of the game. The scope of the featured enhancements, namely the mechanics of the four player co-op mode and expanded world and abilities, will dictate where Crackdown 2 falls on the must-buy scale. Fortunately, the minds at Ruffian seem to be working on the right things. We'll no doubt see a slew of additional details released once the holiday gaming frenzy has ended and publishers start to shed more light on their 2010 releases.
CCC Freelance Writer