Giant Bomb Review


Crackdown 2 Review

  • X360

Crackdown 2's open nature can lead to some cool moments, but even the cool moments feel like they were lifted directly from the previous game.

Mere vehicles are no match for the Agent. 
While the original Crackdown presented players with a handful of goals, its real appeal was as an open environment for players looking to screw around with another player via Xbox Live. For better or for worse, Crackdown 2 picks up precisely where the first game left off. If you're driven by set goals, you'll complete most of the meaningful tasks in around 10 hours, after which you'll probably shrug and move on. But if you're the type to just get in and blow up random cars with a few friends, well, Crackdown 2 can be a lot more than its missions.

Like the previous game, Crackdown 2 comes to you with a razor-thin premise: you're an agent of The Agency, and your task is to protect Pacific City. Two factions are out there, stirring up trouble. Cell is a terrorist group that takes the place of the gangs found in the previous game. The freaks are infected mutant creatures that roam the streets, spitting up acid and swiping at you with their claws. The freaks are also sensitive to UV light, so your core task is to power up various beacons (which are protected by Cell, who seem to think that the Agency's hiding a cure for the freak virus) and protect light bombs as they charge up to take down underground freak nests. Once you activate all nine of the bombs, there's one last task to complete and then the credits roll. There's no character development as a part of the main storyline, and the only way to glean any sort of meaning out of the game is to find audio logs laying around the city or explore the various videos and information Microsoft has pumped out ahead of the game's release. Either way, most of that stuff is meaningless. As before, if you're coming into Crackdown 2 expecting to get some kind of story, you'll be thoroughly disappointed. That said, if you played the first game, you have a pretty good idea about what to expect from both the story and the action.

There are some gameplay additions and some things in place to take some of the monotony out of the game's more tedious tasks, but by and large, Crackdown 2 is Crackdown 1 with marginally better graphics. The visual enhancement mostly manifests itself as a much longer draw distance, which makes standing on tall buildings and looking around the city pretty cool. While this is the same Pacific City from the first game, the city's fallen on some hard times, so more of the buildings are torn up and there's a darker style to the proceedings. This further manifests itself via the game's day/night cycle, which mostly seems present so that someone could make a great "the freaks come out at night" reference. When the sun goes down, the roving Cell vehicles are replaced with streets full of freaks, who come right up out of the ground. It gives the game a Dead Rising sort of feel, as you're given plenty of opportunities to race through the city streets, mowing down hundreds of freaks as you do so. For the most part, the game can ably handle all of those on-screen enemies, but a few late-game moments have the frame rate chugging a bit more than you'd like.

In multiplayer you'll get to be the annoying guy in the helicopter, shooting slow rockets down at the rest of the players. 
The biggest change to the way Crackdown 2 plays is the addition of the wingsuit, a glide ability that lets you sort of fly around the city. It has a Pilotwings or Super Mario World slant to it, as you'll need to pitch yourself down to pick up speed before you can pull up and turn that speed into lift. But you won't get it until your agility rating is at its maximum level, and it's not especially useful--it's mostly there to give you a set of tasks where you need to glide through some rings placed around the world. Other changes make the race missions easier by removing the time you need to beat to win. Instead, it's more concerned with slapping your times onto an online leaderboard. Also, the cars no longer morph based on your driving skill, so if you don't want to always drive the SUV (or the sluggish tank, which is the last unlockable Agency vehicle), you don't have to. But, like the first game, driving is pretty pointless when you can move faster on foot. The annoying lock-on targeting, which likes to point your weapons at empty vehicles rather than the bad guys standing in front of them, hasn't changed a bit.

Really, most of the game hasn't changed a bit. The way you jump and the occasional hassle of climbing a building only to find that those windowsills, for some reason, aren't objects you can grab onto are precisely the same as the original game. With most of the additions aimed at streamlining elements of the first game or, at least, making them less of a pain to deal with, Crackdown 2 occasionally feels like a big patch for the first game.

That's the rub. It's disappointing that so much of Crackdown 2 is completely lifted from the first game, but even though the genre has moved on to bigger and better things, a lot of those things are still fun to do. And those things are made more interesting when added to the inherent excitement that comes from cooperative play. Now you can drag three additional players along with you as you work your way through the city. There's plenty of mayhem-driven fun to be had if you're the sort of player that can appreciate the game's open-ended approach. If you're a fiend for collectibles, the mere thought of running around and collecting more agility orbs (including new orbs that try to escape your grasp, which I simply found to be stupid and not worth the effort) probably already has your interest piqued. This time, the game's map tells you which areas still have orbs in them, and you can send out an inFamous-style ping to make orbs show up on your minimap for a few seconds. You won't need more than half of the game's 500 agility orbs to max out your jumping skills, though, so some casual orb hunting is more than enough to get you pumped up.

 Explosions are the name of the game.
I completed the game's primary task in around nine hours, then found myself drawn back in to mop up a few secondary tasks, but after 13 hours total, I've done just about everything I want to do in Crackdown 2, and the ending feels just as tacked-on and thrown together as the rest of the game's "plot." That's when you're supposed to turn to the game's 16-player multiplayer mode, but nothing about that mode is the least bit engaging. Applying the Crackdown mechanics to team deathmatch leads to even more annoyance with the game's targeting system. Rocket tag, a game where one player tries to grab an orb and stay alive for as long as possible while the other players--all armed with rocket launchers--blow everything up to get the orb for themselves, is just pure chaos. It's a bad fit for the franchise and probably won't draw your attention away from the main campaign for long.

There's a narrow subset of people that will absolutely love Crackdown 2 for it's "it ain't broke, so we didn't fix it" approach to sequel development. Those people are probably still playing the first Crackdown, though, so they'll be in a perfect position to see just how little some portions of the game have changed. If you're in that group or if you're just looking for something absolutely mindless to do with a few online friends, Crackdown 2 is practically perfect for that. But if you've already had your fill of Crackdown, the second game doesn't make enough changes to drag you back into Pacific City for longer than it takes to see the credits roll. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
159 Comments Refresh
Posted by EmuLeader

glad this got a decent score. was wondering if it would 

Posted by Hitman101

uh oh

Posted by Griddler

Was kinda expecting 4 stars.

Posted by CrimsonClown

The second I saw the score I knew it was Jeff's review.

Posted by KarlPilkington

Crackdown seems pretty average, i'm sure fans of the first will probably enjoy this one lots though.

Posted by Milkman

I didn't really like the original Crackdown at all so sounds like this isn't for me.

Posted by Creamypies

From the demo it didn't seem like they'd done much to it. I'm still interested to play it, mind you.

Posted by spankingaddict

why didnt brad review it? i agree with the score, but brad likes this game better than jeff.

Posted by AlwaysAngry

Considering I never played the first Crackdown, I might enjoy this more.

Posted by punkxblaze

Jeff, do you hate fun?
Just kidding, this seems like an appropriate score for the game.

Posted by Peacemaker

It's been getting the reviews I figured it would.  It's more Crackdown.  I'll probably get it eventually.  There's just other stuff I'd like to play right now.

Posted by Yummylee

3 stars as expected. And a good review too. Has really pushed me further away from ever getting Crackdown 2 now. Especially with the amount of playtime Jeff stated he got from the single player.

Posted by whatisdelicious

All this game does is make me want inFAMOUS 2 that much more. Well, as long as they fix Cole's new look.

Posted by Vorbis

This mirrors alot of other reviews, seems like they missed the chance to improve on the first game.

Posted by journeys

This sounds like a pass for me.  The review sounds more like a 2 than a 3 to me.  Same game as before pretty much, short game play and the mutliplayer is a miss.  Not complaining...just sounds even lower than a 3. 

Posted by ImperiousRix

Fair, maybe a little bit generous with the score.  Personally, I think Crackdown 2 is more of a throwback game and if marketed as such, I could see the appeal.  Instead, it's being marketed as a brand new gaming experience with vast differences and improvements over the original. 
It isn't.

Posted by streetninja
@creamypies said:
" From the demo it didn't seem like they'd done much to it. I'm still interested to play it, mind you. "
This is how I feel about the game, but I doubt I'll pay full price for a sequel that didn't do enough to differentiate itself from its predecessor.
Posted by Jimbo

Sticking with my hunch:  this will flop.  But will it flop as badly as APB?

Posted by phrosnite

Great job Jeff!!!

Posted by xxMarkIt8Dudexx

Did not  care for the demo myself...

Posted by emkeighcameron

Good read, and also, why the hell is this game so damn ancient looking? I'm not one to bitch about graphics quality that often, but MAN, does this look like some PS2-era bullshit.

Posted by Milpool

So disappointing.  I will rent it for the achievements.  I was really looking forward to a new and improved Crackdown though.
Posted by MjHealy

The first game didn't click with me. The silly action was fun but with the paper-thin premise, it just didn't engage me. Since it doesn't really change anything, I don't think I will be picking this game up.

Posted by FunExplosions

Glad to see that some people aren't content with being fed the same shit over and over.

Posted by shawnyofthedead

going to rent this now and get a new 360 250gig with the money I saved :D

Posted by fastidious

Demo told me all I needed to know, this game feels more like DLC than a whole new game. Barely anything changed from the first Crackdown, not worth it.

Posted by Bobdaman18

Nuts, i was hoping it got a better review but i kinda figured it wasn't gonna be good.

Posted by Evilsbane

I can't believe they did so little to change it from the first game the graphics are by far the most disappointing thing, its like this was only in development for a year.

Posted by Soulblitz

As a huge fan of the original, "more of the same" is definitely a plus point. It's a little disappointing to see how the full game's structure etc hasn't really changed at all, (and going from the demo I can't say I like the look of the menus and map, or the the HUD for that matter) but as I spent most of my time messing around and blowing stuff up with my best mate in co-op, I imagine that's what I'll spend most of my time doing in the this one. 
Great review, though.

Posted by CrossTheAtlantic

I'm a little surprised. Never played the first game though, and I don't remember what kind of critical reception it had.

Posted by iAmJohn

*Sigh* Another review that falls in line with the others.  How could Microsoft/Ruffian mess this up so badly? 
I'm probably still going to pick it up, but this sounds like it might beat No More Heroes 2 in terms of being the most disappoint sequel ever.

Posted by ToxicFruit

well I am still planing on getting it 

Posted by DiegoBitterman

@Lebensbaum said:

" @CrimsonClown said:

" The second I saw the score I knew it was Jeff's review. "
The second I saw Jeff's name, I knew the score was justified. I know it's a lot to ask, but maybe if you had actually read the review, you would know that Ruffian was essentially given the same assets from the first game and told to copy-paste a sequel. "
The second I saw Jeff's cartoon depiction in stark bright colours waving his hand horizontally to suggest indifference I knew it was Jeff's review.
Posted by Maclintok

After the demo I got a strong "sequel 1.5" vibe from the game.  People used to laugh about the idea of story in games, but in this age it's actually pretty important.  These crazy open world experiences are getting dry and feeling hollow without some basic narrative structure... things we take for granted like an interesting hero, plot twists, character development and the sense that we're going off on an adventure. 
A fresh coat of paint, 4-player co-op and some tacked on multiplayer modes just don't cut it.

Posted by bybeach

I probably will get it because it is more of the same. Simple pleasures so to speak. But I can quite understand the review
Posted by Wes899
@spankingaddict said:
" why didnt brad review it? i agree with the score, but brad likes this game better than jeff. "
I don't understand what you're saying. The person that seems to like the game the most should review it?
Posted by get2sammyb

I'm kinda surprised Jeff reviewed this. Scores have been all over the place everywhere else though to be honest. Looks like this is the kind of game you're just going to have to make your own mind about. Which is fine, because that's the way it should be anyway.

Posted by MiniPato
@CrimsonClown said:
" The second I saw the score I knew it was Jeff's review. "
If it were 5 stars I'd know either Vinny or Brad reviewed it and it would only consist of "ORBS!"
Posted by rohanspear345

i agree with this score the crackdown series just looks like bland open worldy stuff same old same old

Posted by ZmillA

worthless game is worthLESS

Edited by bosshog70

I'm still going to get the game, Crackdown had the advantage that at the time there weren't  too many games like it. 

Posted by CowsWithGuns

Great review Jeff! Very disappointing though. Thought this one would be better.

Posted by Colonel_Fury

I'm rather indifferent about this game. Might buy it if its on the cheap.

Posted by rjayb89

I liked the first Crackdown and would still rate it 3 stars.

Posted by MiniPato

Dark and gritty just doesn't mesh well with cel shaded graphics. I feel like the best looking cel shaded games are the ones with bright vibrant colors. Dark Cloud 2, Dragon Quest 8, Jet Set Radio Future, just to name a few.

Posted by FluxWaveZ
@MiniPato: Dude, Wind Waker.
Posted by Fur1ousApollo

I already pre-ordered it based on my demo experience. I am looking forward to the co-op side of things which is really where it is at when it comes to Crackdown.
More of the same surely isn't a valid complaint seeing as we have been playing more of the same Call of Duty since that series launched and people still review that far too highly.

Posted by This_Dude

Rock it Real 

Posted by wrecks

Sounds to be about what I expected. Will still be a fine summer rental.