Fun albeit unambitious
I was excited to hear of a sequel to Crackdown, the game bundled with the Halo 3 beta. But I wasn't too excited the sceen shots in the Gameinformer magazine showing off a game using the same engine that the original Crackdown used that wasnt very impressive back when it debuted back in 2007. Fears krept in my mind that this sequel was a rush job that offered little new.
Then I played the game and found out I was right. Crackdown 2 uses the same graphics engine, the same city and the same exact gameplay. It plays almost exactly the same. The controls are the same. Any change is extremely minor.
The problems that existed in the original still exist. Climbing can be frustrating with buildings that have parts protruding outward so you have to back away in mid air so that you don't hit your head on the way up and get back close to grab a higher ledge. Some problems are worse. You're more likely to target things you don't intent to like vehicles in the background and near by explosives and there now way to switch targets on the fly so if you targer the wrong thing you have to disengage your lock on and reengage and hope the targeting system get the right thing. The enemy ai is actually worse. In the original enemies would occasionly try to at least flee from grenades. The human enemies in Crackdown 2 think nothing of standing in place in the open to get gunned down.
Instead of fighting three gangs your tasked in taking out a resistance group and zombies. It's just as repetitive as before. The only missions actually required to finish the game is activating beacons and clearing out freak lairs. Each beacon is protected by a small amount of the "cell" resistance forces, after clearing them out you just stand on a pad for a few seconds and running again and you move onto the next one. After reactivating enough of these in a district and you'll be tasked with clearing out freak lair, where you'll fight all manner of zombies to protect some super beacon thingy until it activates and kills all freaks in the area. Do this nine times and you've beat the game.
There are a few side tasks. You can clear out tactical locations held by the Cell and claim them as your own, Just like in the original Crackdown, but each tactical location Crackdown has a partner sight you need to clear or the Cell will reclaim the other. Then there are freak breaches where you just kill a bunch of zombies as they come out of a hole until a bar on the side of the screen empties and a helicopter comes and plugs up the hole. There are no benefits to clearing out freak breaches other than achievements. Then theres audio logs. They really don't cover much story the player can't get from the first cut scene and simple observation during gameplay, but hey, it's more achievements.
Leveling up your attributes in Crackdown 2 works the same as the original. Collecting orbs. Collecting green orbs from rooftops and participating in roof top races will increase you agility which determines how fast you can run and how high you can jump. Shooting guys will earn you Firearms orbs making the damage you doll out with guns more potent and you'll become more accurate. You can also earn a little bit of agility and firearms orbs at the same time by shooting foes from high places. You'll level up your stregnth by punching guys and tossing stuff at them and you can level up your driving skill by completing races in your vehicle, running over enemies and pulling off tricks like drifts and barrel rolls.
New to Crackdown 2 is renegade orbs, orbs that flee the player. It's satisfying to catch them but most the time their extremely frustrating to catch. It doesn't really matter though since you wont need them to max out your skills. In fact, it's pretty easy to max them out. I didn't even drive much in the game and I managed to nearly max out my driving skills thanks to the "hidden" and xbox live orbs(the latter can be collected when other players in a co-op session gather around it) that net you experience in all skill types.
Similar to the original Crackdown, once you've leveled up your skills enough you unlock new abilities. Upping your strength will allow you to lift heavier objects and eventually learn a football-like tackle move thats good for busting through crowds of punks, and finally an ability that lets you slam your fist into the pavement after jumping causing a shockwave that can kill most enemies. Maxing out your agility gives you a wing suit that works similar to Mario Wing cap. Maxing out your fire arms earns you new guns. leveling up your explosive skills increases your explosive damage, radius and earns you new explosive weapons and leveling up your driving skills earns you new vehicles.
Driving is almost as pointless in Crackdown 2 as it was in the original. While Agents aren't as fast as they were in the original, they're still fairly fast. But what really kept me from doing much driving was the map. Unlike more recent open world games like Red Dead Redemption, Grand Theft Auto IV and Saints Row 2, there is no way to set waypoints that guide you to your destination. Normally theres a symbol on the map showing you the general direction to go but theres no line path showing what roads you need to take so if your driving you constantly need to open it up and check where you need to go. It's far easier to just go on foot and just parkour your way through all the building between you and your destination. To top it off, the vehicle don't even transform anymore. LAME.
One thing I don't get is that Ruffian was talking about how they improved melee combat. It really isn't much different. Now when you mash the by button over and over you'll go into a combo. It doesn't really matter though, each hit doesn't differ in damage or delivery time. There are also so called melee weapons. Things like helicopter blades, street signs can be picked up and you can go over and mash the b button with it. They do more damage than using your fists and you have a longer reach. Over all it's not a very different experience and it's not much more useful.
The game tries to make players use different tactics to take on enemies. Freaks are more susceptible to UV weapons and humans no like bullets. But explosives seems to be pretty effective on both so I just ran around using the rocket launcher, grenade launcher and flocket launcher all game long. Worked out pretty well. Enemy behavior also effected by the day and night cycle. During the day the freaks hide in their lairs from sunlight so their lairs are more crowded then and them come out during the night. I'm sure if the cell is effected as much by this, they don't show up as much during the night but I didn't notice any difference for the tactical locations and beacons.
Either way, in co-op there isn't much challenge. Me and my friends have gone into freak layers during the day time for the added challenge since it was ridiculously easy at night. And Crackdown 2 feels like it was primarily made for co-op. I can't imagine taking on the freak layers closer to the end of the game. Full of enemies and some doing attacks that cause you to go into a long reaction animation that you have to wait to end before fighting again. Some tactical locations are like this too, occupied by tons of baddies with explosives that cause you to roll around on the ground like a tard. It's annoying but if you're in co-op, as you should be, then it wont pose too much of a problem.
Co-op is hands down the biggest improvement to Crackdown 2. I almost want to forget some of the game's short comings for it. Rocking Pacific city with three buddies is a blast. What made the original Crackdown 2, the crazy stunts and explosions is that much more awesome with more friends. Still, it could have been better. My biggest beef is that when players are far apart theres no indication as to who those small triangle on the map are. They're all the same color and there no names. You're not gonna know who is who until they're on screen. Theres also the issue of friendly fire. You can turn it off, but even then, friendly explosion and shots from the UV shot gun are going to blow friends away and leave them disoriented for seconds. It's funny at first buy after a while it's annoying.
Crackdown 2's list of good additions don't extend much further than that. You can now see where near by orbs are by pressing up on the D-pad and you can see the locations of all orbs in the menus, although the ones you already found arne't marked off. Still it makes or hunt significantly easier. Theres helicopters but you'll need to get to level five in agility to actually get to them and by then it's entirely possible that you've beaten the game. Same for the glide suit, it's cool but you wont be getting it till near the end of the game and by then there isn't practical use to it other than to goof around. Mag grenades are awesome, allowing the player to link objects together. The applications are endless. For instance, having trouble getting all the vehicle stunt rings? Stick a vehicle to a friend's chopper and have him fly you through the rings while you sit back and relax. Just likethe others though this is just something that'll probably entertain you on the side.
Then theres the competitive multiplayer which is tacked on if I'd ever seen it. You have the choice of either Team Deathmatch or rocket tag. Thats it. Not even free for all deathmatch. Team death match is self explanatory and rocket tag is like Halo's oddball game type expect the players are going after an orb instead of a skull. On top of the unimpressive offering of modes Crackdown 2 does not even support parties. What is this, 2003? What amazes me though is this game actually support host migration. Really? No parties but it has host migration? It doesn't matter, the multiplayer sucks anyway.
Crackdown 2 is fun, but it's really disappointing. It doesn't do much the original didn't and it actually took out some of the cool things the original had. It plays the same, it looks the same, it's using the same engine and same city as the original. Even more than ODST this should have been priced as an expansion. Rent this if you're interesting but don't spend more than twenty dollars if you want to purchase