Crackdown surprised a lot of people in early 2007 by being much more than a beta key to Halo 3. While having a laundry list of obvious problems, including a repetitive single player campaign, mediocre co-op, boring driving and a targeting system that was just barely acceptable at the time Crackdown was, when all was said and done, a ton of fun. The game was an open world playground that took the term sandbox gaming to new heights.
While a sequel was never really in question the length of time that had passed since the first game certainly had some feeling that it might never be coming. However the outcry from the original game’s fans for a sequel was heard by Microsoft. And thus Ruffian Games, comprised of members from the original Crackdown team, have delivered Crackdown 2 onto XBOX 360 gamers.
Crackdown 2 kicks off by introducing players to what has been going on in Pacific City since our previous visit. A plague of monsters called freaks have swept over the city, although just like the song they only come out at night. This plague must be wiped out and so The Agency has a plan called Project Sunburst which needs to be activated. Unfortunately Project Sunburst is in the hands of a terrorist organization, named Cell, which has taken over the city and the strategic points where Project Sunburst can be activated from. So the Agent program has been reactivated to take back Project Sunburst and eliminate the Freak population from a physically devastated Pacific City.
Players will have to select which agent they want to be from one of four choices but the choice is superficial since your agent will spend the entirety of his time in Pacific City wearing full body armor. After a quick tutorial the game dumps you in the city and lets you go about your mission. And from here the game becomes a lesson in tedious, repetitive mission design interspersed with a smattering of moments of awesome fun.
It is clear that Ruffian listened to the fans on what they loved about the original Crackdown because it is all here in Crackdown 2. Your agent is once again a super powered soldier that becomes more and more enhanced as the game continues on by way of collecting orbs. Strength orbs are collected by engaging enemies in melee combat. Firearm and explosive orbs are collected by engaging enemies with an assortment of weapons available to the player. Driving orbs are collected by running over enemies while driving a car and performing cool maneuvers while in the car. But of course the heart and soul of the game is the Agility orb and they can once again be obtained by traversing Pacific City and collecting them on rooftops throughout the city.
But while Ruffian got the good stuff right it is also quite evident that they did not listen to their fans on what they disliked about the game; Crackdown 2 makes many of the same exact mistakes as its predecessor. To recapture Project Sunburst the player will have to find the activation points scattered throughout the city, clear out the opposition provided generously by Cell, activate the waypoint and repeat until the signal is given to head to a Freak lair and drop a beacon into it, where one must fend off a strong rush from the Freaks while the beacon prepares to detonate. Once the beacon detonates then it is back to step one until this has been done nine times. That is the game in a nutshell right there, repetitive mission design which is arguably even worse than the repetitive missions of the first game.
Still a fun sandbox to mess around in.
Crackdown 2 feels dated and not in a nostalgic way.