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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Microsoft Game Studios

 

Developer

Ruffian Games

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

July 6, 2010

 

 

‑ Sweaty palms and vertigo-inducing huge vertical climbs and descents return for fanatics of the original Crackdown

‑ Long after completing the story, addictive orb collecting will haunt your dreams until you find every last one of the glowing blue and green balls of achievement

‑ Not much of a real story to complete, but more than enough tasks to fill a couple dozen hours of gameplay

 

 

‑ With essentially the exact same Pacific City to explore as the first game (aged and decrepitly desecrated with 10 years of anarchy-fueled – not to mention freak-initiated ‑ destruction), this qualifies more as Crackdown 1.5 than a full-blown sequel

‑ Online addition definitely welcome, as some achievements and the online orbs require co-op collaboration, but with agents leaping ridiculous heights throughout the PvP arenas, deathmatches are not as much fun as they should be (although Rocket Tag is explosively entertaining)

 

 

Review: Crackdown (360)

Review: Just Cause 2 (360)

Review: Red Dead Redemption (360)

 

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Crackdown 2

Score: 8.5 / 10

 

crackdown 2         crackdown 2

 

Orbs. Glowing green and blue orbs. Hundreds of them, literally, spread up to the highest reaches and down to the lowest depths all around Pacific City, the setting for Crackdown, which was a surprising 2007 hit game from Microsoft on the Xbox 360. Collecting those orbs for Xbox 360 achievements became an obsession for many gamers. While there wasn’t much of a “story,” the blow-everything-to-hell

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explosive gameplay and addicting orb collecting became a guilty pleasure that covered up many of Crackdown’s blemishes.


Gamers took on the role of a super-agent for the mysterious Agency – apparently controlled by the all-seeing (but never seen) “Big Brother-esque” Agency director, whose voice with many a nefariously smart-ass and expletive-laden caustic remark about the agent’s progress (or

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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 reality.


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.

 

crackdown 2          crackdown 2


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 Pacific City.


- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(July 30, 2010)

 

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