GameSpot Reviews - Crackdown 2 Video Review

Uploaded by gamespot on 06.07.2010

In 2007, Crackdown delighted Xbox 360 players by casting them as a futuristic supercop who,
through vigorous jumping, driving, and shooting, could actively enhance his abilities and extend
his influence over a large urban landscape. Now it's 2010 and Crackdown 2 is hoping to
delight Xbox 360 players with... pretty much the same thing. You are once again cast as
a powerful law enforcement agent charged with cleaning up Pacific City. Your powers increase
as you use them, and striving to jump higher and punch harder can be addictively satisfying.
You can cause a lot of mayhem across the city, and there are no shortage of new objectives
to keep you busy. Yet despite the abundance of things to do, Crackdown 2 often feels like
a shallow experience. There is no proper story to spur you onward, and you spend the majority
of the campaign with the same handful of mission types. Bringing a friend or three into the
action livens things up, but all of the different kinds of fun you can have in the game are
tainted by one issue or another, and the more you play, the more these problems become evident.
Nevertheless, even though Crackdown 2 is flawed and doesn't do much in the way of innovation,
there is still plenty of entertaining action here for those interested in leaping tall
buildings in a single bound.
Crackdown 2 takes place in Pacific City. Geographically speaking, it's the same Pacific City that
players explored in the first Crackdown, though time has not been kind to it. Buildings are
crumbling, roadways are disrupted, and it generally feels like a more conflict-torn
enviroment. The visuals are improved, and once again the cel-shaded outlines mix well
with more realistic textures, creating a distinctive look. Yet Crackdown 2 isn't exactly pretty.
Environmental details don't stand up well to close inspection, and explosions, of which
there are many, don't look very good at all. Still, it is fun to explore the city and it
is fun to blow stuff up, and the absence of loading times make doing both much easier.
In fact, exploring the city is one of the most entertaining parts of Crackdown 2, thanks
largely to the liberal placements of attribute-boosting orbs throughout the city. Green agility orbs
perch on rooftops, encouraging you to climb to new heights, while white hidden orbs reward
curious and thorough explorers. Most orbs are stationary, but two types of renegade
orbs will flee from you, baiting you to give chase on foot or in a car. Every orb glows
brightly and once you've spotted one, it's very difficult to resist grabbing it. Collecting
orbs is oh-so-satisfying, and with hundreds of them scattered around the city, it's easy
to get caught up in an addictive orb-snatching binge.
The downside of this binging is that while leaping high into the air can be exhilarating,
climbing structures can be aggravating. It can be tough to tell what parts of a building
you will be able to grab on to and what parts you won't. After a while you develop a good
eye for the environment, but there is still the looming problem of ledge detection. Crackdown
2 is inconsistent in this respect, so you may jump at the side of a building to grab
what you know to be a ledge, only to fall impotently to the ground many stories below.
Sometimes your leaping skills allow you to regain your position easily, but the higher
you climb, the more time and effort you stand to lose as a result of this flaw. This makes
climbing tall buildings nerve-wracking; not just because it's tricky, but because at any
moment you could fall victim to Crackdown 2's inconsistency and plummet to the earth.
Fortunately, though it is aggravating, this problem isn't bad enough to ruin the fun of
exploration and orb collection. The other collectibles to be found in Pacific City are
audio logs. They come in a number of varieties, and shed light on your enemy's agenda and
other threats to public safety. These voiced snippets are the only substantial form of
plot development in Crackdown 2, but they are few and far between. You get the feeling
that there is some mildly interesting stuff going on, but unless you scour the city, the
opening cutscene is all the plot you're gonna get for the majority of the game. There is
a disembodied narrator who accompanies you wherever you go, and he is initially helpful
and somewhat amusing. But after a while his shtick gets old, he starts repeating himself,
and you'll want to turn him off. The Options screen allows this, but in doing so you also
shut out the Audio Log voiceovers, which you actually do want to hear. It's not a great
Fortunately, there are plenty of bad guys to help you vent your frustration. The enemies
arrayed against you come in two varieties, human and not-so-human. Your human enemies
are The Cell, a group dedicated to fighting you and your Agency. You other enemies are
the freaks, zombie-like creatures that overrun the city at night, killing anyone they can
get their claws on. At the outset of the game you are told about both factions, assigned
a few different combat-based objective types, and set loose in the city.
Fighting men and monsters can be fun, and increasing your arsenal and melee strength
is rewarding. The deadly accuracy of the harpoon gun and the Jedi-like power of the UV shotgun
are highlights, and the weapons you find in the environment can be just as fun. Bashing
enemies with lampposts, bus stations, and cars is an enjoyable way to flex your power,
but combat in Crackdown 2 is pretty simplistic. In the early going you can shoot and punch
your way through enemies fairly easily, and when things get tough, the tough jump around
with a rocket launcher and duck behind buildings to regenerate health. Laying waste to lots
of enemies is inherently satisfying, as long as you don't get caught by knockdown attacks
or explosions. Both with cause you to ragdoll and roll around limply for an annoying amount
of time, leaving you powerless to defend yourself against repeated attacks. It has its moments,
but eventually combat loses its luster because your enemy encounters don't vary greatly and
become repetitive.
You can mix things up by driving around the city in any car you choose to get into or
by summoning an Agency car at a drop point. The Agency cars handle the best and have special
abilities, making them the most fun, though other cars have radios installed so you can
hear actual music while you drive. The cracked pavement can give you some trouble, but races,
stunt rings, and renegade orbs provide good incentive to get behind the wheel. Just be
ready for some trouble if you drive during the day. Pacific City's civilians think nothing
of gathering en masse and wandering into the street in an effort to become roadkill, and
god help you if you ever hop a corner. It's very difficult not to massacre civilians while
driving, and violent police retaliation against you is the annoying result.
The Crackdown 2 campaign can be played cooperatively over Xbox Live, with up to four players romping
around one city at a time. Each player keeps their attribute and orb-grabbing progress,
and there are some orbs that can only be collected with at least two players present. More company
makes things more enjoyable, and though only the host gets to keep combat-related progress,
there's more than enough opportunity for cooperative (or not so cooperative) fun to make teaming
up worthwhile. The competitive multiplayer is not so worthwhile, offering a paltry three
modes that cover the basics but don't offer a particularly enjoyable or deep experience.
Yet Crackdown 2 is an enjoyable game. Exploring the vast city, grabbing orbs, pulling off
stunts and flexing your abilities can keep you entertained for hours, and its even more
fun with a friend in tow. The lack of a narrative makes the campaign feel directionless and
repetitive, and the different flavors of action are all tainted in one way or another. Those
with high hopes for a stellar sequel will be disappointed, but Crackdown 2's core action
and appeal remains strong, making it a fun stop on your summer videogame tour.