lack of it) in “cleaning up” Pacific City is heard
throughout the entire game. Suffering from a serious case of “gang-it is,” it
was the agent’s task to eradicate the gang “virus” by defeating every gang boss
and his (or her) minions one by one until Pacific City was gang-free. At the end
of the game, gamers discover that the Agency had a sinister hidden agenda in the
gang extinction that the “super” agent unwittingly assisted in turning into a
And it was a “super” agent that gamers were, enhanced super “men” that were
ridiculously strong, unbelievably athletic (literally able to leap tall
buildings in a single bound) and especially destructive, exploding and
annihilating anything and anybody in their way with a futuristic suit of armor.
That suit, along with the agents other abilities, was upgraded throughout the
game until the agent was almost unbeatable and nearly indestructible.
But it wasn’t the story that made Crackdown so fun. It was the orb collecting
along with the vertigo-inducing large climbs and descents of the vertical
gameplay that had gamers palms turn sweaty clenching their Xbox 360 controllers
from scaling unbelievably huge buildings in search of those orbs and the
mindless, blow-everything-up-with-huge-explosions-and-extreme-prejudice battles
with the large number of enemies at every turn of Pacific City.
Now three years later, it’s more of the same in the sequel, Crackdown 2. And
more of the same as in being practically the carbon copy of the first game,
right down to the exact same Pacific City gaming environment (albeit aged and
decrepitly desecrated with 10 years of anarchy-fuelled – not to mention
freak-initiated destruction). Crackdown 2 qualifies more as Crackdown 1.5 than a
full-blown sequel. But ah, those orbs, those damn glowing orbs, once again set
gamers off on an achievement-driven collecting frenzy, and the few additions to
Crackdown 2 do freshen it up enough that even those that played the first will
find some gameplay variety from the original game.
Since the gangs were rendered extinct in the first game, there’s a new enemy in
the now-anarchy-ruled Pacific City: the Cell, a radical terrorist faction intent
on eliminating the Agency. To do that, they’ve unleashed a genetic virus that
creates freaks essentially mutant zombies on the loose during the night. Yes,
the freaks do come out at night, and any of Pacific City’s residents
out-of-doors at the crack of dusk will soon find themselves slaughtered at the
hands of the freak hordes. But the eye-in-the-sky Agency has another sky-high
plan to win this round of Pacific City combat – Project Sunburst, a weapon that
requires the agent to secure and initiate beacons atop Pacific City’s tallest
reaches. When fully connected, Project Sunburst will release a powerful burst of
light that will destroy every single aboveground freak roaming through Pacific
City. The beacon mission serves as the single-player story’s main focus.
And good thing there’s a weapon of mass freak destruction at the agent’s
disposal, because the frenetically insane and violent freaks are much, much
tougher than any gang that gamers may have faced in the original Crackdown. Even
the Cell is no slouch when it comes to challenging the gamer’s agent abilities.
With so much familiar in Crackdown 2, it is a welcome addition to have a more
difficult enemy collective to fight against.
Along with the main mission of turning on the beacons while eliminating any
freaks and Cell along the way, there are familiar side-missions for Crackdown
veterans, including driving stunts and races in the agency vehicles. Other new
sequel-specific side quests include closing all the underground freak lairs and
capturing Cell strongholds.
It can be frustrating getting to those lairs and strongholds, though, because
inexplicably there isn’t an efficient navigation system that allows for setting
of waypoints to easily trek from Point A to Point B. However, at least there’s a
satisfying arsenal of big-ass guns of various sizes and levels of whoop-ass
mightiness to undertake Crackdown 2’s missions.
What’s really new to Crackdown 2 is online gameplay. There was co-op gameplay in
the first foray into Pacific City, but not full-fledged Xbox Live battle royales.
However, the online play in Crackdown 2 is disappointing, because while Rocket
Tag can be entertaining with rockets booming all over the entire arena as gamers
chase the king of the hill with rocket launchers that every online agent wields,
Crackdown 2’s deathmatch is almost impossible to really enjoy. With each and
every gamer using their super-powered jumping ability to leap high above the
gaming arena, it is very difficult to get any kind of consistent kill streak
going, even for the best online agents.
Four-player co-op has great potential, as some achievements and the online orbs
require co-op collaboration, but only if all four players agree to combine to do
specific achievements or gameplay goals, and that’s not easy, especially with
unknown online gamers “co-oping” together.
While somewhat mysteriously a new developer was employed for the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t
fix-it Crackdown 2, thankfully all of the volatile fun that made the original
game such fun for the orb-collecting Xbox 360 denizens makes the return trip to
- Lee Cieniawa
(July 30, 2010)