Van Redd Reviews: Crackdown 2

If you can’t guess Crackdown 2 is the sequel to the original Crackdown. Unlike the original this game does not have a Halo Beta to coast on for sales, not to mention a lot of behind the scenes drama over it’s development. You see Crackdown 2 was not developed by Real Time Worlds, they are too busy with making A.P.B a massively multiplayer failure. Instead, Ruffian Games picked up the slack but only after Microsoft seemed to flip flop on making the game to begin with.

Ok now that the history lesson is over with let’s get down to the nitty gritty truth. Crackdown 2 is really just an upgraded Crackdown 1 with a few additions and oddly a few subtractions. While you lose vechiles that chagne as your driving skill improves, you gain helicopters, pinging for orbs (like Infamous), and a niffty wing suit to glide around in. Gone are a series of gangs and bosses to fight, they are replaced by a terrorist group known as Cell. A second antagonistic faction are the Freaks, the mutants who come out during the cover of night. The main crux of the game is to power up beacons to destroy these Freaks. You do this by taking over things called Absorbtion Units that are scattered thoughout Pacific City. You have to usually power up three of them in an area before you can do a beacon misson, which are bascially the “boss” fights of the game.

Ok, let’s be honest. The game is very repetitive, almost insanely so. Having played games enough I can see why Ruffian went with this model of gameplay. Someone can drop in your game at anytime and not miss out really anything. A player can drop in your game and know what they need to do with no real backstory needing to be explained. If you drop into a Coop game of Gears you could be at any point in the story and have no clue what the hell is going on, not so in Crackdown. Now I am NOT saying I agree with this choice, merely that I kind of see what they were thinking.

Speaking of repitiion, you will recognize most places as you are in the same old Pacific City. Now to be fair the city is ten years older and much MUCH worse for the ware. Buildings are in flames and/or falling over, most sections are warzones, and after dark a sea of mutants roam the streets for blood. Many will deride Ruffian for copy and pasting the city, but if you played the first game it is kind of neat to see how the city has changed. I think they should have done a lot more to make the city feel different, but in and of itself being in the same city is not a deal breaker at all.

The dealbreaker for this game is all in how you intend to play it. If you intend to play this game mainly as a single player game you will HATE it. It is repetitive, boring, and devoid of engagement with you. If you have a good group of friends to play Co-op with, you are going to have a really great time. The saving grace of this game is just how much fun it is to gang up with three other friends (double the last game’s number) and cause as much havoc as you can. Lonely orb hunts become treasure hunts with friends. Having someone to talk and goof around with really is a huge amount of fun and has kept me going back long after I completed the game.

The game is not without a large share of bugs, which to be fair all sand box games are. My friends and I have run into numerous bugs with most of them being centered around the helicopter. I have had it explode for no reason on the helipad to a being on it when a friend took off and it appearing in my game that we were still sitting on the pad. I have had abilities seemingly not level up only to leave the chopper to gain a new level. I have struggled to make my agent climb up to a hidden orb on a tricky ledge only for him to decide to ignore me so he can fall to his death. I have even had a friend get knocked into a type of first person mode which is how we got this choice gameplay shot.

Bottom Line: I honestly think Crackdown 2 would have benefited from being a $40 game. If you are more of a solitary gamer, or if your friends don’t plan on getting this game then you are better off renting. If you know that some of your friends are getting it then I feel good about recommending it to buy. Just goofing off with some buddies has been some of the best times on LIVE I have had. Just know what you really want out of the game before you commit to anything.