"Meet the New Game, (Almost) the Same as the Old Game"
When it was released in early 2007, the original Crackdown was a major surprise to me and just about every other gamer, I’m sure. And please, don’t even try to tell me that you didn’t order/buy the first Crackdown just for the Halo 3 beta…
One could argue the point that that's what made the first game so memorable: no one expected anything from it – it was simply the box that the Halo 3 beta came in. But, like most children discover on Christmas morning, the boxes are more fun to play with than the toys themselves more often than not.
So, that is my mindset as I’m booting up Ruffian Games’ 2010 sequel to the Realtime Worlds' 2007 classic. I have lofty expectations, sure. Hot damn, I want to love this game. I want it to thrill and surprise me the way the first one did… you can see I’m setting myself up here to be let down, can’t you?
- That's what happens when you don't move! -
My headline kind of gives it away but, yes, Crackdown 2 is, unfortunately, a big disappointment because it's the same damn game as the first Crackdown. There are some minor tweaks and enhancements, sure, but at its core, it is virtually indistinguishable from the original title.
In Crackdown 2, ten years have passed since the events in the first game. The three, distinct gangs (The Volk, Shi-Gen, and Los Muertos) that ran Pacific City are gone, replaced by a rather generic terrorist organization, The Cell. The city is now in ruins, teeming with a literal swarm of zombie-like mutants, called (in a master stroke of originality) Freaks...who only come out at night. For those of you who don’t know, “The Freaks Come Out at Night” was an early rap/hip-hop classic by Whodini and, yes, that’s the sound of me NOT laughing at the reference. The “Agent” program has been revived (using some sort of cloning technology/technique that is never fully explained), and it’s your job as the super-powered Agent to reclaim the scarred streets of Pacific City once again.
To be frank, Ruffian should have just renamed Pacific City “Sameysame Town” because while things are run down a bit, you’ll easily recognize all the familiar locales from the original. You’ll even find some of the maddeningly collectable Agility Orbs in the exact same places they were in the first title. Also, the musical score and even the “Create an Agent” are both relatively unchanged, as well. So, essentially, what we have here is the first game with the addition of zombies, excuse me, freaks to the mix.
No, I am not joking. I wish that I was but I’m not.
I’ve spent a good portion of this review expounding on what is the same in Crackdown 2 so now let me switch over to what is different: there are a couple, cool light (UV) based weapons to combat the freak horde and you can play with up to four comrades in multiplayer, which is a still a hoot to play. To fully experience the handful of worthwhile tweaks to Crackdown 2’s combat, you have to nearly max out your abilities. As an example, when you reach level five in your agility skill, you are able to glide over short distances. And when you reach level five in the explosives skill, you’ll access a weapon that lets you magnetize two large objects together, allowing you to send vehicles crashing into large groups of enemies. Regrettably, you can effortlessly beat the game before maxing out many of your stats, so you’ll spend most of the experience without these new talents, making them hollow improvements to say the least.
- Magnetic powers let you grab vehicles and toss them -
All in all, Crackdown 2 isn’t a terrible game and is still fun to play for a few hours before the sameness of it all saps the enjoyment right out of it. What is offered here should have been a meaty DLC pack for the first Crackdown, not a full-fledged retail title. There is a ton of wasted potential here and that is the biggest crime of all because Crackdown 2 should have been so much more. Methinks that the development of the decidedly mediocre “APB” and the ultimate split of the original Realtime Worlds team (who did the majority of the work on the first title) into Ruffian Games really crippled what Crackdown 2 could have been. Hopefully, the Realtime Worlds and Ruffian guys will wise up, get the band back together and make Crackdown 3 a true, AAA tile and not some slapdash reworking of the splendid original.
GameDynamo's Score for Crackdown 2 (X360)
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