The first Crackdown was an entertaining open-world game that mixed the elements commonly attributed to this genre of games with superhuman powers and the ability to level up one’s own skills. While the game was great, I believe it had a hard time not getting overshadowed by the main reason so many people bought the game. Of course, I’m speaking of the Halo 3 beta access that came on every copy of the title. It’s a real shame that so many people probably picked up Crackdown for little more than access to that beta because the game itself was quite good and certainly deserving of a sequel. Thankfully, Crackdown 2 is finally here and completely free of any type of beta shenanigans to distract players from the real game.
Players are once again taking on the role of an Agent, a genetically enhanced super cop, who is tasked with cleaning up Pacific City for the Agency. However, this time around, crime is the least of your worries since there has been an outbreak of what the game calls the Freaks. Freaks are essentially ghoulish looking mutants who come out at night and wreak havoc on the city and all of its inhabitants. While most of these Freaks are clearly no match for your Agent in a one-on-one situation, they rarely come alone. Going down most streets after the sun sets can be pretty risky, as you’ll be swarmed by every nearly Freak aware of your presence, unless you’re in a vehicle and splattering them into a fine green mist.
To help cleanse the city of this plague, the player must complete Project Sunburst. This project entails activating a series of absorption units around the city and delivering beacons to several strategic underground Freak areas. After activating a beacon’s necessary absorption units, you’ll need to head underground and protect the delivered beacon long enough for it to charge and detonate. This is easier said than done, as droves of Freaks will continue to crawl out of the woodwork and attack you and the beacon from every angle. These portions of the game can feel overwhelming at times, but successful detonations feel rather rewarding, as the resulting blinding light evaporates any and all of the Freaks that remain.
Aside from the Freaks, Pacific City has also become infested by a terrorist faction known as Cell. Cell has set up strongholds all over the city and you’ll need to take over each in order to regain Agency control. These consist of finding Cell’s tactical locations and then wiping out enough of their members in order to safely call in Agency support. These function somewhat similarly to the beacon detonation segments except that the only thing you’re tasked with protecting is yourself. While this does make these portions somewhat easier, Cell members access to heavy and explosive weaponry helps provide a good amount of challenge, especially later in the game.
Besides this game’s focus on taking over Cell locations and detonating beacons, this game is similar to the original Crackdown in many ways. Players will once again be able to upgrade several aspects of their Agent by performing certain tasks or by picking up orbs. Killing enemies with your fists, guns, grenades, or car will give you experience in strength, firearms, explosives, or driving skills respectively. However, hidden orbs can also be found throughout Pacific City that will give experience bonuses to all of your skills at once.
Agility orbs once again litter Pacific City’s skyline, seemingly calling players to climb, explore, and jump about every inch of terrain. Of course, with five hundred to find, this task will take even a skilled player quite a bit of time to fully complete. This time around you’ve also got a host of both rogue agility and driving orbs that are much tougher to get your hands on. Whenever you get close to one of these rogue orbs, they will attempt to run away. Whereas the rogue driving orbs will stick to a fairly straightforward pattern, making them easier to catch, the agility orbs are very good at changing up their patterns and adapting to your strategies. I’ll admit that going into the game, I thought these orbs sounded gimmicky and annoying but I’ve since come to appreciate the challenge that goes into collecting them. While collecting the multitude of various orbs was an incredibly fun part of this game for me, it was also when I fully realized that I felt like I had done this all before.
With Crackdown 2 essentially reusing the exact same city, albeit fairly demolished and in need of repairs, it often feels far too familiar. As I was jumping around the city, I found myself constantly thinking, didn’t I already check this area or I’m pretty sure I’ve already been here. I prefer the new gritty, bombed out look of Pacific City. It both fits the subject matter in the game and helps to make the environment feel much more realistic than in the original Crackdown. However, it may feel a little repetitious to anyone who has played, and fondly remembers, their last stay in Pacific City.
Even so, you’ll find enough fun things to do around the city to keep you from dwelling on this fact for too long. There are a host of rooftop and road races to participate in by yourself, or with up to three friends, that’ll help you to further level up your agent as well as earn bragging rights depending on your finishing times. Playing through the game co-op with up to three friends also adds to the experience, although only the player hosting the session will be able to save anything more than just the orbs they collect. This is disappointing, since everyone is working together to accomplish the same goals if you’re bothering to play co-op in the first place.
Crackdown 2’s multiplayer also helps to add some diversity and replayability to the experience. While the options are somewhat limited, you’re still able to play deathmatch, team deathmatch, and rocket tag with up to sixteen online players. Even though these modes are all fairly standard, they are still entertaining to play because of the nature of your super powered agents and the access to powerful weaponry.
Despite having many similarities to its predecessor, Crackdown 2 still manages to be a fun and worthwhile experience. While it may not feel like an entirely new game in some respects, it does feel more refined this time around. Whether you played the original Crackdown the entire way through, or perhaps only purchased it to get into the Halo 3 beta, you really should check out this sequel. Once you start collecting those green orbs and jumping higher, you’ll feel right at home.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.5 Graphics
The cel-shading looks great, especially with Pacific City’s darker grittier appearance. 4.2 Control
You’ll have some issues with targeting and collision, although they aren’t incredibly prevalent or hindering. 4.3 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound effects are good and the announcer is still quite humorous. 4.4 Play Value
While the main goal of the game can be completed rather quickly, all of the additional tasks, orb collecting, and multiplayer will keep you in Pacific City for many hours. 4.4 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.