Crackdown 2 Review
Same city, same graphics and same gameplay. Crackdown just didn’t grow up.
Back in 2007, I picked up a game to get myself through the generally dry and boring summer. The game had a demo of Halo 3 and everyone was saying that is the only reason why the game was selling. Crackdown turned out to be one of the best surprises of my recent gaming memories. The game was crazy and fun where any and everything can go. I enjoyed collecting those orbs and making stunning jumps from one building to another, killing hundreds of enemies with different styles and vehicles. Crackdown made my summer that year and I spent the next couple of years recommending the game to any one with a functioning Xbox 360.
When the sequel was announced I was left a bit worried. The original minds behind the game were gone and the series got a brand new developer to handle it. I was still looking forward to a sequel that will improve upon the first game in the series, a sequel that will look better and offer far more then just a few explosions and stunt drives. And now after playing the sequel for days, I can say that the series went from the best surprise to an ugly reality.
Crackdown 2 is not bad, but it is basically Crackdown 1 with a new mission. After saving Pacific city in the first game, the city is in despair again after a terrorist group took control and helped spread a virus that turns humans into freaks. Your job is to save what is left and turn the city back to what it was. With such a huge city, the missions should be very creative and daring, right? Unfortunately, the main story here will have you do the same thing again and again until the end where you get a few twists that are honestly not worth all the time spent on the game. You will spend your time going from one part of the city to another activating stuff and controlling areas without a single addition to the story. You do get some races and jumping missions as a side dish to the main course, but all in all, this has to be one of the most disappointing story modes in some time.
Collecting orbs to improve your character was fun in the first game, and is still fun now. A new addition to this game is moving orbs that you actually have to chase around to get. Orbs are the only thing that makes this game playable, ironically enough. You will start noticing how fast your character improves over the course of the game, giving you something to look forward to after every one or two hours of gameplay. Improvements such as higher jumps and running faster will make finishing your mission faster and easier, so I would recommend going after the orbs before anything else. Another collectable this time is a bunch of audiotapes found around the city (how original!). Those tapes give you a little more idea about the story, but are too far apart and short to make any noticeable splash on the game.
The city is the most important factor when looking at a sandbox action game. Astonishingly enough all the work done on the city since the first game is: nothing. All the developers did is burn a few buildings and destroy a few sidewalks and we have our city for the sequel. How can someone get away with something like this will boggle your mind. While I did appreciate the few landmarks I noticed from the first game while driving around the city, seeing a ton of others and going inside to do the same stuff I did 3 years ago is something I won’t accept even from a 10 AED expansion pack these days.
So, the gameplay is the same but what about the ‘look’ of the game? That must have improved, surely? Again, and I say that in the most disappointed manner possible, the sound and graphics are the same compared to the first game. I actually went back and played the first Crackdown for a bit to make sure all of this is not just a bad dream. The graphics, which was above average a few years ago, is very close to ugly right now. The voice from the agency telling you what is happening is still there, but imagine this: He keeps on saying the same lines along the fifteen hours you spend playing this game. Every time you get a moving orb he will say well done, every time you finish one part of the mission he says the exactly same line. I had a feeling that the voice actor went missing before completing the development of this game, which is why the developers couldn’t record any more lines.
The one thing we can consider an improvement in this game is the 4 player coop addition. You can now invite anyone online playing Crackdown 2 to join your game and help you beat the mission or finish a race stunt. The online game was fast and smooth thankfully and I did end up enjoying a few 4 player coop missions online. The other online mode is arena where you get to battle it out with other agents online. While the mode was plenty fun, it lacked the detail and polish we see and feel in similar modes in other games. Note that the online features in the game are easily the best thing about it.
Sitting down and trying to figure out what went wrong in the series is fast and simple. Crackdown 2 after three years is nearly identical to the first game, nothing got worse, but nothing got better either. What happened is that far better games came out during the last three years. We went from a gaming world with only a couple of really good sandbox action games, to a gaming community filled with them. After the first Crackdown came remarkable games such as Fallout 3, Infamous, Just Cause 2 and of course GTA IV. The sequel does not even come close to competing with those premier titles. And if this is the 360’s answer to Infamous, then Microsoft has a ton of work to do. They can start by handing the series back to the original developers.
|Simple to get used to, nothing changed since the last time we played Crackdown.||
|The similar-looking cell shaded graphics are no longer pretty.|
|I had to play the game on mute to make sure I don’t hear the guy inside my head repeat the same lines over and over and over, and over. And over.||
|Fifteen hours repetitive identical missions. Only the online co-op saves the day.|
|Online mode is fun and will make finishing this game a far easier and more fun task.||
|A thoroughly disappointing sequel. Spend your money on better alternatives.|
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