Crackdown 2: Hands-On Preview

Welcome back to Pacific City Agent. It’s been 10 years since you’ve cleaned up the streets from the terrorizing gang members. However, with the Agency gaining control of the city, the people of Pacific City grew angry. A new resistant group called the Cell was formed. And to make things worse, a new threat called the Freaks roam the city at night. Help us out Agent and make Pacific City a peaceful place to live once again.

When you read that intro, there is no doubt you heard the voice of Michael McConnohie reading it to you. That’s the familiar feeling you get when starting up Crackdown 2. You’ll be happy to know that everything you’ve come to love from Crackdown – The familiar Agency Director’s voice in your ear, the familiar open city, massive explosions, and cell shaded graphics are all here. At the start of the game you are presented with a summary of what you need to know to get caught up with the events between the first and second game. Although I had a chance to play a stable, and near finish build of the full game I won’t be talking about the story; Mainly because well, I can’t. To get caught up to events in between, I recommend watching the new videos being released such as the “Pacific City Archive” videos.

If you are new to the series or it’s been a while since you’ve played Crackdown, a very informative tutorial is presented to you to get you familiar with the games controls. The controls, for the most part are exactly the same as they were in the first game. With the addition of new features, you will learn of some new things being mapped to the controller, but it’s minor stuff to learn.  After the tutorial, you are dropped right into the action.

Immediately you are teased with plenty of orbs that will most likely distract you from the mission at hand. In the first game, it took a little bit before you noticed your first orb, but now you will see them everywhere. In addition to the regular orbs, you are presented with renegade orbs. These orbs look just like regular orbs but just when you think you have it, it floats off and requires you to chase after it. Let me tell you, these orbs are annoying. They’ll have you running around and climbing different heights just to obtain it but of course, obtaining these orbs are a satisfying and addicting task. You shouldn’t have a problem keeping track of the orb as there is a cursor on the the map but catching it can be a frustrating challenge. Also, don’t worry if you end up losing the orb; They eventually go back to the default location. In addition to renegade orbs that require you to run after them, there are renegade orbs that can only be obtained by driving. In Crackdown, not many people wanted to drive. Either they’ve driven too much with similar open world games like GTA or racing games, or maybe they didn’t like the controls or lack of objectives. Well, if you are the type that must collect all orbs in the game, you’ll end up driving a lot more to obtain these orbs. On the topic of orbs, you’ll also notice some with the Xbox Live logo on them. These orbs can only be obtained while play playing online. When you run into one, you have the option to instantly join a friend, or invite a friend to play and then collect the orb. This is interesting, but what about those people that only play the game offline? I guess if they really want to get all orbs/achievements, they’ll be online anyhow but there are still a vast majority of people that only play offline. If you are online and playing alone, you’ll just be itching to find someone to play with and collect this orb right away. For those that had trouble finding all the orbs, like me, there is a new ping feature that allows you locate orbs within a certain distance of you on the map.

Enough about the addicting and distracting orbs. Let’s talk a little about the gameplay. There isn’t a whole lot to say here as it is pretty much the same as the first game. Why change something that’s already great? You still have a range of weapons to select from, the ability to drive any car, scale buildings, pick up almost any object and use it as a weapon, swim, jump great distances and height and so much more. There are quite a few new additions like the hooks, helicopters and glider suits to name a few but I only had a chance to play from the beginning of the game so I didn’t get to try these out. Just like the first game, melee is present, but I found it to be frustrating this time around. I’d be targeting an enemy in front of me but for some reason my character would randomly attack someone else nearby or behind me. A new really useful thing I noticed is the spawning system. In the first game, you had to find certain cache locations which would act as a location to change weapons and spawn. In Crackdown 2, when you die, there are multiple preset stars around the map that make it much easier to get back into the action or mission at hand. Another thing I noticed is the amount of action and enemies on screen. You’ll see areas with probably 20-50+ freaks all gathered in a group. Driving and mowing down these freaks is so satisfying. From location to location, there is no shortage of fighting either. Whether you enage in this combat and eliminate the threat for that area is up to you, but ignoring it will only result in the enemies following you and possibly killing you. It seems you just can’t catch a break – unless of course you scale a tall building where only you can reach. This brings me to my next problem I had – scaling buildings. Just like the first game, you can jump and grab onto window ledges, signs, edges the edge of a roof, pipes and so on. However, I noticed that I was limited by the amount of edges I could grab. More often than not I’d try to jump from window to window but the character just wouldn’t grab onto it. It’s not from a low agility rating either. It seems that there aren’t as many ledges this time around on every window? I never had a problem with this in the first game and I hope it is fixed when the game is released. Crackdown felt like a game on it’s own, and it still does but Crackdown 2 is very reminiscent of [PROTOTYPE] or inFamous. I can’t really explain why as it’s something you feel while playing it, but it definitely has to do with the Freaks and setting this time around. Actually, another thing is the collecting of audio logs. Collecting these provide additional information and news of events around the city similar to inFamous. Crackdown 2 is a big open world sandbox where you can do essentially anything. In addition to climbing on top of the really high buildings and roaming the ground level, players will be able to go below ground level and fight in the Freak lairs. This provides a new look to the game and another level of gameplay that has not been seen in the series.

One of the biggest additions to Crackdown 2 is the multiplayer feature. At launch there will be Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Rocket Tag. The latter mode is very similar to Oddball in Halo where you rush to grab the golden orb and must stay alive to collect points. Reach the limit and you win. When you hold the orb, a timer counts down from I believe 20 seconds. Each time it hits zero, you are awarded points. I’m not exactly sure how the points are added, but I believe picking up the orb awards you 5 points, 2 points for killing the one holding the orb, and 3 points for holding the orb until the timer hits zero with it increasing the longer you hold it. In terms of maps, you play in sections from the actual city, but there are walls that provide a boundary. These maps are fairly big too. Some sections of the map have jump pads that allow a quicker route to the top of buildings or a boost across the map. The map I played Rocket Tag on was not a good map to start with. I mean, it’s a good map if you have the orb as there is plenty of spots to hide and very hard to reach, but for the one trying to get you, it’s not fun. Also, since the Agents move really fast, it’s hard to hit them with a rocket. It really requires you to time the rocket well ahead of the person you are trying to hit.

Graphically and aesthetically, Crackdown 2 looks as good as the first with improvements of course. Lighting is improved, and provides a look and feel of a city that is damaged and falling apart yet a very bright and colourful game. Shooting a building, window, or car leaves bullet holes. They were there in the first game, but they look so much better this time around. Also, I’m hoping this was just a pre-release thing, but explosions looked pixelated. I hate to mention it, but I’m just writing about what I saw at this event.

Audio, such as the orb sound and Agency Director’s voice is back and better than ever. He’s just as funny and potentially annoying as he was in Crackdown. In the first game, when you were near an orb you would hear the orb pulsating but sometimes was a challenge to find it; especially the hidden orbs. In Crackdown 2, hitting up on the D-pad pings the orb making it easier to find with sound and dots on the map.

I know what I saw is pre-release but as this is a preview, I’m writing about what I saw and experience at this event. I can’t wait until July 6th to jump back into Pacific City and continue with the rest of the campaign. I had a great time at the event. It was my first media preview event and was fun to be apart of the media and talk to writers from other sites. Not only that, but Ruffian Games’ Lead Producer and Creative Director were on site to talk to anyone about the game.

Anything else you’d like to know about Crackdown 2 from the event or something I didn’t mentioned, leave a comment below and let me know; I’ll try to answer it for you.

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  • Great preview, jealous that you got to play this before me lol. Can’t wait to play it in July.

  • This is my number one most anticipated game this year. Even over Reach.

  • unself

    since the announcement of the sequel, i havent heard or read anything about the original Supercar, Truck Cab, or SUV being mentioned. Are they in the game? and if so can they still be upgraded? i would really like to know as this was prolly the best thing about the original Crackdown

    • Yes and no. They do have a supercar in Crackdown 2 and it is the fastest car in the game, they do have the SUV with jumping suspension but that part is done differently in this game. In Crackdown, when you leveled up your driving skill, you would get new features on your Agency vehicles to beef them up. In Crackdown 2, when you level up, you are awarded with a new vehicle so things like buggy with roof mounted gun, tank, SUV, supercar, helicopter and I would guess the Truck Cab as well. So basically it doesn’t seem like they will be upgraded; You’ll just get them fully loaded as you level up.

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