The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
In the original Crackdown, Pacific City had character. Its three
colorful districts – ruled by three competing gangs – all presented
their own unique landmarks and platforming challenges. In Crackdown 2,
10 years have passed; the gangs are gone and the city is derelict,
overrun by masses of zombie-like mutants. Police barricades block off
street corners, smashed storefront windows sit neglected, and a thick
layer of dust oppresses the entire city. A once-great metropolis lies
tarnished – much like my fond memories of the first Crackdown.
went into this game hoping to be amazed, and I am. I’m amazed that
Ruffian Games developed a DLC-quality experience. I’m amazed that
Microsoft has thrown it into a box and stamped the numeral “2” on the
cover. Mainly, I’m amazed that this game took three years to produce.
Crackdown 2 doesn’t merely follow the formula laid down by its
predecessor; it delivers an experience that is, in many ways,
indistinguishable from the first Crackdown. You still play a cybernetic
super-cop sent to clean up the streets by a mysterious booming voice.
You still collect orbs and level up your various abilities by pulling
off crazy driving stunts, jumping across the city’s skyline like
Daredevil, and using rockets to turn enemy nests into volcanic
eruptions. That part of the game remains a blast. However, Crackdown 2
sticks so rigidly to the first game’s formula that it just comes across
as lazy: We’re still exploring the same city, still driving many of the
same vehicles, and still firing the same weapons.
A lot has
happened in the video game world since the original Crackdown’s release.
Games like Assassin’s Creed and Infamous have changed how players
expect to navigate large cities and engage in open world combat. These
advances make many of the first Crackdown’s quirks – such as the
inaccurate melee combat, enemies who juggle you through the air with
rockets, and fussy platforming sections – seem like major flaws.
wish I could at least say, “If you loved the first game, you’ll love
this,” but in many ways this feels like an inferior replica. Crackdown’s
colorful gangs have been replaced by a single terrorist organization
called The Cell, a flavorless enemy who tries to thwart your attempts to
rid the city of its mutant population for reasons that are never
entirely clear. In fact, the mutants themselves are about the only
unique twist to Crackdown 2. The game does a good job of throwing
hundreds of enemies at you without a hiccup, and the action can get
pretty frantic once the ranks of flesh-hungry mutants start closing in.
2’s worst mistake is how it changes the series’ overall structure. In
the first game, the city was broken into districts, each controlled by a
different criminal organization. By taking out key figures, you would
gradually chip away at the gangs’ infrastructures and take down their
kingpins. This freeform approach to open-world design was unique, and it
offered up some rewarding goals and delivered a sense of progression –
two things lacking in this sequel.
Crackdown 2 feels like it tried
to duplicate the first game’s freeform structure, but missed the point.
There are no crime bosses in Crackdown 2. Instead, every main story
mission literally falls into one of two categories: liberating terrorist
strongholds, or activating beacons so you can clear out mutant spawning
grounds. Only side missions like racing and orb collecting provide any
variety in the formula. Then, just when you think the game is about to
change its pace, the credits slap you in the face. Even the twist at the
end is a regurgitation of the first game’s closing revelation.
experience the handful of cool tweaks to Crackdown 2’s combat, you have
to nearly max out your abilities. For example, when you reach level
five in your agility skill, you are able to glide short distances. And
when you reach level five in the explosives skill, you gain access to a
weapon that lets you magnetize two large objects together, allowing you
to send vehicles colliding into large groups of enemies. Unfortunately,
you can easily beat the game before maxing out many of your stats, so
you spend most of the game without these new talents, making them a
What hurts the most about Crackdown 2 is that I
would have been content with a simple, by-the-numbers sequel with a few
token improvements. But this isn’t even a Xeroxed sequel; it’s more
like a photocopy of a photocopy. The structure is largely the same, but
some of the colors have faded, and parts of the picture are missing
altogether. Let’s just hope that Microsoft uses some fresh ink for
The first Crackdown offered
two-player co-op. Crackdown 2 knocks that number up to four. If you can
get that many friends together, it’s wholly worthwhile. Nothing from the
single-player experience is lost, and in some cases, you’ll have an
easier and quicker time completing mission objectives. Co-op isn’t the
only multiplayer experience in Crackdown 2, either. Crackdown 2’s
deathmatch and rocket-tag gametypes are worth a solid weekend of your
time. All the maps are based on sections of the city from story mode and
the frenzied action doesn’t require a lot of skill, but the hyperactive
gunplay and the building-sized explosions are enough to make up for
Email the author Ben Reeves, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.
Just after the first Crackdown came out, I joked that a
then-hypothetical follow up could be my favorite game ever. I loved
being a superpowered agent in a gang-filled city as much as I enjoyed
goofing around in its sandbox with a buddy. Sure, there were a few rough
spots, such as the tedious boss battles and the lack of any real
storyline, but that’s what sequels are for… right? Well, after playing
through Crackdown 2, I’d like to go back in time and push myself into a
puddle. I was expecting to see a refinement of the first game’s concepts
with some exciting new additions. What I got was an unnecessary
distillation. The new additions – a few gimmicky weapons, gliding,
collectibles that run away from you – don’t make up for the components
that were removed. Yes, the fights with gang leaders got old after a
while in the first game, but they instilled a sense of progress. Without
them, you’re just jumping around ruined versions of the same old
places, tracking down nearly 1,000 orbs, and working through the same
pair of “kill ‘em all” story missions until the credits roll. Crackdown
is still ripe for an ambitious sequel, but this Crackdown 2 thing
clearly isn’t it. What a squandered opportunity.