Crackdown 2 Hands-On Preview
Crackdown 2 box art
System: X360 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Ruffian Games 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Microsoft 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: July 6, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-16 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Pending 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Orb Addiction, Coming Soon to Xbox LIVE
by Andrew Groen

April 1, 2010 - The original Crackdown was nothing if not divisive. For some it was its amazing, over-the-top action that separated it from the herd of third-person shooters coming out in the early years of the Xbox 360, but for others it was sorely lacking in depth. Few would argue that Crackdown was mostly a proof of concept rather than a full game; a thin framework overlaid with incredibly fun (if not very fleshed out) gameplay mechanics.

Crackdown 2 screenshot

The modus operandi for most sequels these days is to acknowledge the shortcomings of the original and attack them head-on in the sequel in an often misguided attempt at achieving perfection. However, Crackdown 2 seems to be doing the opposite. They're simultaneously embracing their shortcomings and their strengths in a clear-headed vision of what the Crackdown experience is all about.

So, while you're still going to get the same exaggerated superpowers and agility orbs as before, you're not going to get some overwrought story that self-consciously tries to legitimize itself through bad drama. Quite the opposite, really - Crackdown 2 adds zombies.


At PAX East we were afforded the opportunity to go hands-on with Crackdown 2's multiplayer. Rocket Tag was the game of the day, and while we still love the idea of mixing Crackdown's famous high-flying agility with rockets and a kill-the-carrier-style game, we came away with some concerns.

There is a lot to love about playing this game in multiplayer form. However, there are some basic needs that have to be satisfied before this game ships. First and foremost, the camera needs work. The simple fact is that the camera system breaks down during the heated moments - ironically, just when you need it most. Once your target gets close to you, it's nearly impossible to keep them targeted after they inevitably leap 40 yards over your head and trot away down the street. The reason is that the players are just too fast and too agile for the camera to be able to keep up with them.

Crackdown 2 screenshot

The way the game works is once a player gets the "orb," they become the target. Their agility is slowed down a bit and they have to escape the other players for as long as possible. Once they die, the orb shows up in the level at their point of death and the other players try to get it. This can be a huge nuisance when the player dies more than 10 feet above the ground because the orb is impossible to see while jumping to reach it. What results is 5-6 players jumping up and down around the orb like idiots trying to be the first to get lucky and snag it by accident.

It's certainly not all bad news, though. The game's signature high-flying acrobatics are on full display in this mode, and it's truly an amazing thrill to be leaping from building to building with rockets whizzing past your head.

The MP mode also introduces a new mechanic to the formula that we really liked. The levels have what are essentially launch pads strewn throughout. When you step on them, they launch you all the way across the map. What this effectively does is it creates a goal for the orb-carrier to reach. Because once they do, they're given a few moments of safety as they fly for miles across the skyline. It adds a strategic element to a mode that would otherwise be a completely chaotic frag-fest.

Crackdown 2 screenshot

Our first impression of this game is a bit like what we thought of the original game. It has huge, soaring high points, with often frustrating low points. When everything is going right there is a lot to love about this experience, but there were times when we were so annoyed we could have smashed a controller at the demo booth.

The problems aren't a total loss for the multiplayer component, though. We were only given the chance to play one game type, and the game is still a few months from release. This could be more than enough time for the game to come together as millions of fans are hoping it will. We're still waiting to find out if Crackdown will blossom into the fourth major franchise Microsoft so desperately wants (the others being of course: Halo, Gears of War, and Forza). However, this demo wasn't entirely convincing.

This is still just a multiplayer demo too. It may not be indicative of the single-player portion of the game, which is what Crackdown is known for. Considering this is the first foray for Crackdown into multiplayer territory, we'd regard this as neither very impressive nor concerning. It has some problems, but if it can be ironed out before release, then we predict consumers will be very pleased.

By Andrew Groen
CCC Freelance Writer

Game Features:

  • The all-new launch pads propel your agent miles across the map.
  • Several different multiplayer modes including deathmatch and rocket tag.
  • Huge, sprawling maps for players to get engaged in.

  • Screenshots / Images
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