Game Review: Crackdown 2
Release: July 6, 2010
Developer: Ruffian Games
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
ESRB Rating: M
Returning to Pacific City is like slipping on an old pair of jeans. It’s comfortable, familiar, and my ass looks really nice. Crackdown 2 is the sequel to the original Xbox 360 title that came out way back in 2007. Since its release, developer Real Time Worlds has moved on to create APB, leaving the sequel to the newly formed Ruffian Games.
Ruffian chose to set the game in Pacific City 10 years after the events of the first game. In that time, Pacific City has descended into anarchy following a mutant freak outbreak. You are one of the first agents to come from the new Agent program. You are tasked with finding generators throughout the city and activating them. Once you activate three in an area, a Sunburst beacon will be dropped into a nearby freak lair. You will have to defend each beacon until it charges, unleashing a blast of sunlight into the lair and quelling freak forces in the area.
While playing, Pacific City will go through day/night time cycles. During the day you can focus on fighting the terrorist organization, named the Cell. When the sun goes down the freaks come out. It is best to hit the Cell strongholds during the day when they are less populated, then hit the freak lairs at night. The Cell are like the gangs in Crackdown and can be taken down with traditional weapons. The freaks are best dealt with using UV weapons like the UV shotgun and UV grenade.
Of course, this wouldn’t be Crackdown without orb hunting. There are 500 agility orbs scattered throughout Pacific City, along with hidden orbs, driving orbs, and renegade orbs. Driving orbs can only be collected while in a vehicle, while rogue orbs run away from you and test your agility. There are also online only orbs that can only be collected while playing with at least one other Agent over Xbox Live. If you enjoyed hunting orbs in the original, these additional orbs will really scratch that itch.
The gameplay mechanics are nearly identical to the original Crackdown. Ruffian has introduced a target lock mechanic that is initiated by pulling the left trigger. Locking on can give you an advantage over Cell members in high places, but when trying to target someone in a group you would do better to do the aiming yourself. Most of the weapons in the game are standard SMG’s, shotguns, and sniper rifles. The harpoon gun returns and makes for some fun times when pinning a bad guy to a car. You will also have the choice between several different grenade types, including the shrapnel, UV, and proximity variety.
Where Crackdown 2 shines is in the moments when you are in the zone jumping from rooftop to rooftop, collecting orbs along the way. One of my favorite things to do is get to the highest point in an area, scan the buildings for orbs, then just start running. It’s exhilarating and makes you feel like more of a superhero than any other game around. The feeling of vertigo when jumping from a height is still present and very much accounted for. When dropping into a group of enemies, you can hold B to do a ground pound, obliterating any one unlucky enough to be in blast radius.
As an Agent, getting vertical is key to survival, both to have the tactical advantage, but also at night when the freaks are out in force. Unfortunately, this is one area I think Ruffian should have spent more time. In the original Crackdown, you could look at a building and tell very quickly where you needed to jump and climb to get to the top. In Crackdown 2, the buildings look largely the same, but there are many ledges and window sills that you will not be able to grab onto. It’s very frustrating making a big leap only to realize that what you were aiming for isn’t something your Agent can catch on to.
Another weak area is driving. I didn’t do a lot of driving in the game because the vehicle physics are a little unwieldy. When I finally unlocked the Agency supercar I thought my problems were over. Unfortunately, the supercar is just as floaty as the other rides. I enjoyed driving the buggy since it was armed and able to pretty much go anywhere. The downside to it, and all the vehicles, is that they can’t take much punishment. If you think you’re going to storm that Cell stronghold in a armored Cell vehicle you jacked, think again. One well placed rocket will take you out, leaving you on fire and heading for cover.
Which brings me to my final issue. Some of the Cell strongholds you need to take down are extremely tough. So much that I think they actually require 2 or more Agents to take them down. Especially considering the Cell terrorists see you coming well before you get to the activation site, and they are armed to the teeth with rocket launchers and sniper rifles. And they do not miss. I died on more than one occasion simply because of the constant stream of rockets hitting me made it impossible for me to get up and get out of there. Having a friend along could have made a big difference.
On the bright side, if you’ve been counting the days to Crackdown 2 since you found your last orb in the original, you’re going to be very happy. Pacific City is ready to be conquered once again. The destruction caused by the freak menace makes all the familiar locations feel different. It won’t take you long before you’re climbing buildings and running the rooftops with ease. The addition of four player co-op, new orb types, and the freak population gives new and different ways to conquer and kill. And we all know what we get for kills, don’t we?
Skills for kills, Agent. Skills for kills.