Back in 2007 when the original Crackdown hit store shelves it surprised gamers with how much fun it was and it was a bit of a different take on the open world genre. It was like a super hero game that was done right and you could have a lot of fun wreaking havoc either by yourself or with a friend. It is now 2010 and Crackdown 2 has finally hit store shelves. For better or for worse not much has changed. You are in the same city and when you are running around during the campaign you will recognize landmarks all around the city, especially if you played the original Crackdown a lot. Ten years have passed since the events of the original title and Pacific City is in shambles. You return as an agent for the Agency and it is your job to deal with two factions: Cell and the Freaks. Cell is the terrorist organization that is, well, terrorizing the city and the Freaks are mutated creatures that will only come to play during nighttime hours. They are the result of an experiment gone horribly wrong. If you enjoyed the original Crackdown then you should find a lot to enjoy here as it is, for the most part, more of the same. If, however, you weren’t a fan to begin with then this will not be the title that converts you.
Throughout the game one of your objectives is to capture tactical locations. The Cell has control of 27 locations throughout Pacific City and you need to take them back. By doing so you allow the Agency to have control over that area which means you have access to weapons and/or vehicle drops. The more tactical locations that you take back the more drop zones you will have which helps to make sure there is never one to far away. You also have these absorption units that are scattered throughout the map that you need to activate. The only way to effectively deal with the Freak problem is utilizing the Sunburst project. In order to do that you need to activate all of the absorption units which will in turn give you access to beacons. Once you successfully power up a beacon it wipes out the freaks from that particular area. One strategy to use is to wait until night to try and reclaim these beacons. Since thousands of freaks roam the streets at night that means they aren’t in their respective lairs. This makes your job much easier. There will obviously still be Freaks there that you have to contend with, however, there won’t be as many as there would be during the day. In a nutshell, that is what Crackdown 2 is all about. There are nine beacons that you need to power up which are located in Freak lairs. There are three absorption units per beacon that you need to configure before you can reach the beacons themselves. Once you have activated a couple of beacons you will see that the other ones are essentially wash, rinse and repeat. In other words, once you have seen how to do one you pretty much know how to do them all. I would have appreciated a little more variety for your objectives especially considering that it took three years for us to get this sequel.
Of course, those who are familiar with Crackdown know that the actual story is only one part to the overall puzzle. The orbs have made a return for Crackdown 2. You have your standard agility and hidden orbs once again, however, there are some new ones that you will need to hunt down as well. For starters, there are the renegade orbs. These orbs actually run away from you and you need to use your agility and quickness to catch up and get it. There are also renegade driving orbs which you can only get when you are driving and some of them will definitely test your driving skill and your reaction time as you might have to quickly take a turn that you weren’t expecting to chase down the orb. Then there are the Xbox Live orbs which you can not get unless you are playing co op with one or more friends. You can still see the outline of these orbs in the environment as you are going through the single player story, however, they are only there to tease you. They brought back the same guy to do commentary in Crackdown 2 and he has no problem reminding you that you will need a friend of yours to pick up one of these orbs. Another improvement to Crackdown 2 is the ability to “ping” orbs. As you are going through the city simply hit “up” on the d-pad and if there are any orbs in the area they will briefly show on your mini map. You can use this feature as much as you want, however, you usually have to wait a small amount of time between uses so you can’t endlessly spam the “up” direction on the d-pad. It even shows you the color of the orb so you know whether it is an agility orb, hidden orb or something else.
Running around the city you will also come across various audio logs. Some of them are from Cell, some of them are from fellow agents and some of them are from the local media doing investigations. It is a nice little way to get some back story into what might have happened in the past ten years since we were last in Pacific City. Rooftop and street races have also made their return and should offer some new challenges to players. There are also stunt rings to drive through where you have to figure out how to get your car through them since some of them are in mid air. As you progress in the game your character levels up allowing you to jump higher, drive better vehicles, use better weapons and things of that nature. Another welcome addition to Crackdown 2 is the four player co op. It is a lot of fun going through the city with a bunch of friends seeing who can wreak the most havoc. There are even vehicles to accommodate you such as a bus that has three gun turrets on the roof. One of you can drive and the other three can have fun blowing up everything in sight. One thing that I had a lot of fun with is once the freaks came out at night I would get in a really powerful vehicle and just mow down the thousands of freaks that would populate the streets. That is also a great way to quickly level up your driving skills.
Overall, Crackdown 2 is a fun game. Given that we had to wait three years for this sequel I would have liked to have seen Ruffian do more with this title, however, I still had fun with it. I was obsessed with orb hunting in the original title and that has carried over to Crackdown 2, especially with the inclusion of the new types of orbs. If you had a lot of fun with the original Crackdown then you should have a lot of fun with this, despite the repetitive aspects of some parts. If you didn’t enjoy Crackdown 1 then you most likely won’t enjoy Crackdown 2. The developer saw what everyone loved about the original Crackdown and expanded upon it. There is certainly nothing wrong with that I just hope that if we get a Crackdown 3 they push the envelope a little more. Maybe work a little more on delivering a compelling storyline. In the end though I have enjoyed my time with the title and will most likely spend a lot more time trying to complete all of the little challenges. If a game is good enough that it keeps me coming back to it, well, you can’t really ask for much more than that.
Originally posted on Totally Gaming Network