Crackdown 2 Review: Does the Sequel Live Up to the Original?

Crackdown 2 Review: Does the Sequel Live Up to the Original?
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Crackdown 2 Review

The original Crackdown was a great game that got kind of a bad rap. It sold well, but most people simply wrote off its success to the inclusion of the Halo 3 multiplayer beta. Which was unfortunate, because it was actually a very enjoyable open-world adventure.

Taking control of a super-powered agent, players fought through the city taking out gang leaders on a mission to free each island from the grip of crime. Being able to literally leap tall buildings in a single bound and hurl automobiles and giant boulders at your foes was a very satisfying experience.

The super-powered shenanigans of the first game are in full effect in the sequel, but the overall structure is somewhat diminished by the design choices made by new developer Ruffian games.

The Good

Playing as an agent in the massive world of Pacific City is every bit as fun as in the original Crackdown. You can still move through the city at incredible speed, leaping from building to building. Building up your agent’s strength is incredibly satisfying, as well, especially around the point where you’re hurling massive trucks at bad guys and using fallen streetlights as melee weapons.

Ruffian has taken many great ideas from the original game, including all the vehicles and weapons that were available only as DLC. You can now access the tank and buggy without paying additional funds, and while the vehicles do not level up as in the first game, you will be able to unlock them as you progress through the driving ranks.

If mowing down massive hordes of enemies with a vehicle, minigun, or a series of massive explosions appeals to you at all (and it should), then you’ll easily find something to love in Crackdown 2.

The Bad

Flying Freaks

Pacific City has fallen on hard times since the conclusion of the original Crackdown. The gangs have been dealt with, but a deadly virus has seized the city, transforming huge numbers of its citizens into “freaks,” basically mindless zombies with a few special abilities.

Consequently, the city has fallen into ruin. Locations that presented strategic challenges and required specific tactics to get through now sport multiple entrances through ruined walls and easy access to any enemies within. For example: the massive arena, which was originally a great place to use ramps and such to pull off the many vehicle stunts in the game, now sits ruined and useless.

Many of the most interesting locations from the first game have been altered so radically that they’re virtually unrecognizable. I understand wanting to place your unique stamp on the game world, but Ruffian seemed to just ignore what was fun about the locations in the first game in favor of aesthetic changes. The city is still alive and somewhat familiar, but much of the heart seems to be gone.

The Ugly

Zombie games are all the rage these days, and there is something immensely satisfying about driving the Agency Supercar through streets just teeming with zombies and watching as they splatter across the road in front of you.

The freaks, together with the rebellious organization The Cell, make up your major opponents in the game. You’ll spend half your time deploying “beacons” that clear out their major hiding places. They run the gamut from minor inconvenience to massive leaping killers that will knock you down repeatedly, greatly diminishing your chances of survival.

The freaks represent probably the most drastic change from the first game.


Massive Explosions

Co-Op is by far the most compelling aspect of Crackdown 2. If you have a friend or a group of friends with whom you regularly play cooperatively, you owe it to yourself to play it. Some of the best times I’ve had playing online were with a buddy in Pacific City.

One has only to look at the co op achievements to get an idea of what types of mayhem you and your friends can get into together. I’ve played baseball with a lamp post and a car, hurled vehicles off of tall buildings with friends inside, and driven a massive bus equipped with multiple gun turrets through the teeming hordes of freaks on the street.

The Verdict (4 out of 5)

Agility Orbs

If you enjoyed the original Crackdown, you’ll find much to love in the sequel. Unfortunately, you’ll also find that the city you originally enjoyed has been reduced to a shadow of its former self. The mayhem and superpowered feats are intact, but many locations you remember will not live up to your fond recollections.

The single-player campaign is very basic, with a series of locations that you must secure on your mission to rid the city of freaks. Basically, you’re on your own after you’ve completed the first mission or two. This is great for independent gamers, but for those who need specific directions, it’s going to be a little disconcerting.

Cooperative multiplayer is the clear highlight of the package. I whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone who has plans to play it with a group of friends.

Aside from changes to the game world, there isn’t a whole lot of new in Crackdown 2. If you’re a fan of the original game and are okay with more of the same, or if you and a few friends are looking for a great way to blow off some steam by crushing massive zombie hordes, then you’re sure to enjoy a second trip into Pacific City.