Jeffrey Markiewicz On July 5, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Crackdown’s fame is similar to the movie Meet Joe Black. If you saw the movie in the theaters, you were treated to the first theatrical trailer for Star Wars: Episode 1. If you bought Crackdown, you got an invite to the Halo 3 beta. So initially most people didn’t care about what they were buying, they cared about what they got with it. But then they played it and lightning struck. It was a phenomenal experience that still stands up today. It was a game that just by looking at it should be mediocre at best but once you started playing, was insanely addictive. Now three years later, with off-shoot developer Ruffian Games and in a much more congested environment, Crackdown 2 is finally landing. Can Crackdown 2 fly to the top like its predecessor or will it succumb to the pressure?

Pacific City is in complete anarchy. The agent program that breeds super-human police officers has been derailed by terrorists and the Agency had to restart from scratch. During the day, a terrorist group known as Cell dominates the streets and at night, they’re infested by freaks. Freaks are people that have been mutated into monstrosities by a virus that’s ravaging the world. The virus was created by one Catalina Thorne, who is now in hiding. You play as the first new agent to hit the streets to help clean up this mess. The Agency has unveiled Project Sunburst which has promised to eradicate the freak problem once and for all but all the absorption units have shut down by Cell. It’s up to you to turn them all on again and dive underground and set off bombs to stem the tide and win the day. Throughout the world, there are audio recordings that shine light on the truth from various players in the world which makes the true version of the story a little murkier but is quite predictable. The biggest issue to this is actually finding all of the recordings to here the real story which can be a pain. Overall though, it’s a simple barebones story that gives you enough reason to be there but not enough to care about anything.

Crackdown 2 is an open-world 3rd person shooter with some role-playing and platforming elements. You’re a super agent whose powers keep growing as you collect orbs and cause pandemonium. These powers are broken into five categories: agility, strength, firearms, explosives, and driving. Collecting agility orbs and completing races improves agility. Punching people and throwing objects at them improves strength. Shooting people with weapons for firearms and blowing them up for explosives. Finally driving is improved by doing stunts and running people over. Unfortunately, just like the first game, they are not very well balanced. Agility is by far the best as it lets you jump higher. Explosives (as long as you’re not playing cooperatively) are like having a stockpile of nuclear bombs and obliterate the enemies. Locking on to them automatically sends the explosives right to their feet which makes it all that much easier. The others are just not needed as much. Driving is never even required unless you want access to unlockable vehicles to do stunts. It would’ve been

Locking on is done a little weird this time and takes a little getting used to because it so drastically flings you to looking at what you’re shooting. With time it becomes okay but the worst part is that Ruffian decided to add the ability to shoot specific body parts. You’re told several times that if you want someone to stop shooting you, shoot them in the hand. Now Crackdown is a full-on chaotic game where the life of one enemy is meaningless as they die within seconds of you putting your eyes on them. Even trying to use this system is futile as it rarely works unless you’re standing still and trying to force it.

Leaping tall buildings in a single bound is back. Collecting agility orbs and scaling humungous buildings was one of the greatest parts of Crackdown 1. They were like little puzzles that needed to be solved to achieve. A lot of that magic has returned but you get fatigued a bit quicker than before. The amount of insanely tall buildings that are a challenge to scale has dropped significantly but they’ve ramped up the difficulty on a couple of them which is nice but you nevertheless miss the variety. The problem of missing grabs is back again and may be even worse than before. There are times where the game will just fail to grab a ledge and screw you. You have to pretty much babysit the game at times to ensure you latch on. Renegade agility orbs make their appearance and they can be quite a bit of fun to chase down but due to the camera, you’re looked more at your mini-map than the actual game to see where they’ve gone. The platforming just feels less grand than before. There are a lot less daring jumps over giant crevasses trying to scale buildings and get orbs and more just ordinary basic jumps. Once you hit the fifth level of agility, you gain access to the wing suit. This basically gives you the ability to fly if you jump off a sufficiently high building which is really cool but is really situational because it requires a high jumping off point. The agility races are back and are decent and there are now wing suit stunts which are a blast.

Just like the first game, the way to build your arsenal is either to level up or store them. Storing new weapons is as easy and walking over an agency supply point. Storing vehicles on the other hand can be tricky. You have to be perfectly over the point and then maybe, just maybe the game will let you store it. Sometimes the option to store appears and other times it does not. If the peacekeepers are mad at you (and they frequently are) you won’t be able to. The Peacekeepers and civilians will literally jump in front of your vehicles all the time and if you run them over too much, they’ll be on your case until you die. Then the worst part is sometimes the option appears but it frankly tells you it did not store the vehicle. There is nothing told as to why or if there is some other conditions that need to be met. There is a really awesome battle bus that’s perfect for coop. It’s basically a large truck with 3 turrets on the back and room for a driver but when I go to claim it so I can call on it at anytime during coop, I can’t, cannot store, no reason. You can also no store the helicopter. It’s just a little disappointing as there seems to be no rules governing what can be stored, what can’t, and why it can’t.

Explosives are just ridiculous in this game. They are like mini-nukes every time you throw a grenade or shoot a rocket. It’s really the most unbalanced and cheap skill of them all. As long as you’re not playing coop, it’s pretty much an instant win button to the enemies. Locking on to enemies sends them a care package straight to their feet. In multiplayer you finally get to feel what it’s like to be on the receiving end of this cheap tactic and it’s not that fun. But when you’re doing it to others is bliss and quite cinematic at times.

Vehicles come in a bit more variety this time around and the unlockable agency rides each have unique abilities that’ll come in handy. A couple are armed with weapons, one can jump and ride on other surfaces for a short period, and the supercar can scoop up cars in front of you which is hilarious. Unfortunately, there is still no reason to drive. There are races but other games does it better. The weapons on the vehicles are nice but they are vertically challenged so unless they are on the same plane as you forget about hitting them. Renegade orbs are decent but can be a pain to catch. Then there hasn’t been much done to make them with coop in mind which is really disappointing.

There is a bit more variety in the objectives this time around. Instead of knocking off crime bosses one at a time until you can take out the top dog, you have about four things you can do. First is to activate absorption units which have you standing on a platform until it activates. Second, once an absorption network is complete, you are tasked with going underground to set off a light bomb. Then there are taking out strongholds, which give you access to supply drops. The biggest issue here is that you take them over by killing a certain amount of enemies but sometimes you’re too good and you literally have to wait for more to respawn. Then if you go looking in the wrong direction, sometimes you’ll go “too far” and it’ll reset. It can be frustrating at times. On top of that sometimes there is a network of strongholds that if you don’t immediately take them all out, they will repopulate and you’ll have to repeat them, which can be annoying if you aren’t paying attention. Then you have freak breaches where they break out from underground and require you to hold them off until a helicopter arrives to close the hole.

Crackdown 1, while having repetitive objectives, had a good structure. While it wasn’t mandatory, you completed one island at a time and the last mission always had an awesome assault on an interesting location. It really broke up the game into visually different areas and while you were doing pretty much the same thing, you had to approach things differently. Now in Crackdown 2 you have a bit more variety in type of missions but they are usually all the same. No interesting assaults on an ocean-side villa and taking out a boss like the first. Since it’s the same city again, you’ll see many of these interesting places just sitting there, not used too interestingly. There are also no boss units whatsoever. New types of freaks do appear as time goes on but none ever cross the threshold of anything more than standard units. So despite giving you a bit more to do, what you do is not as interesting as before. The orbs are still addicting but you get fatigued easier. Plus with the new ping orb feature, it makes it a lot less of a challenge to find them. The campaign is still highly repetitive and just relies on the charm of Crackdown to pull it through to the end of the day but its waning fast, especially considering not much has been changed.

Cooperative play has been bumped up to four players now and the best part is that you can now earn achievements when you’re in someone else’s game. Now my achievement list won’t look so barren now. With each player added the mayhem grows on an exponential rate. It’s a blast. When you accidently kill your friend, you can now revive them. Unfortunately this appears to be the only real addition cooperatively. A major part of the game is collecting agility orbs, hidden orbs, and Live orbs but when you’re playing cooperatively with someone out of sync with your character, it’s hard to help each other out. For example if you’ve previously collected a Live orb, it doesn’t appear for you anymore. It’s gone forever. So if you have a friend playing with you, it’s completely up to them to call you over for to claim it and that’ll require you to use your microphone. There is just no other way to communicate it. Then there are parts where your cooperative buddy just cannot reach. The point at the end of this road is that despite some new weapons and vehicles, the cooperative experience is nearly identical to the first. It’s great if you have two or more people on the same level but quickly dissipates the larger the gap since there is no new ways to work together other than the ability to revive. It’d be great if you could give people a piggy back ride or drop a jump pad so your friends can always be in the experience. It’d be nice if they added more vehicles that supported driving with your friends but all they have is the crazy battle bus, which while cool should be complimented by other turreted vehicles. Basically the more people that get added the more addictive the game gets but practically nothing has been changed for the better other than revive. There are a lot of opportunities to make a better cooperative experience but they’ve just been passed up.

Competitive multiplayer exists in three separate modes: Rocket Tag, Deathmatch, and Team Deathmatch. They can be played across 9 maps which are just cordoned off areas of Pacific City. They’ve been tweaked slightly with the addition of jump pads to let you get around quick and fast. There are now special orbs that give invisibility and invincibility. There is a skill rating called PVP levels which you climb as you get more points but your character from the onset starts fully upgraded skills wise. In Rocket Tag, everyone starts with a rocket launcher and the goal is to hold onto a special orb as long as possible while the entire server attempts to take it away by giving you a gruesome death. It is by far the best mode and does a lot to capture the Crackdown spirit of mayhem and platforming. Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch are traditional Quake-esque deathmatch style in the Crackdown world. You pick up weapons off the ground and whoever gets the explosives first or gets into a helicopter wins. It’s fun for a little bit but you eventually want something deeper. Rocket Tag is fun, especially with a full server but even that is fairly basic and won’t last too long.

If you have played Crackdown 1, you know what to expect from the sequel. There have been minor upgrades all around but it’s still Crackdown. As you level up, you agent’s look will change and become beefier and cooler looking. At the beginning you have a selection of only four agents which have got to be the worst looking main characters this generation. Thankfully within the first agility level up, you get a helmet to cover it up but every time you start the game, you have to select a face. Then you have your choice of a couple different shades of blue for their armor. Crackdown 1 had a larger selection of characters to play which is disappointing and since shades other than blue exist in multiplayer, why not let us choose them in single player? The animations on the agent are still fairly basic so you’ll occasionally see some weird jumps as they grab onto a ledge that wasn’t expected. The developers did a decent job of making the world feel like it’s in ruins and that there has been a zombie outbreak but it’s still pretty much the Pacific City that we’ve seen from Crackdown 1. Sure some changes have taken place and minor upgrades have taken place, it’s still the game. Despite the somewhat lackluster graphics, the explosions often present some very cinematic moments as you’re desperately jumping away. The freaks give a nice Dead Rising feeling and literally number in the 100s. In the time between Crackdown 1 and 2 we’ve seen the fairly substantial graphical update from Halo 3 to Halo Reach but here there is just not much to talk about. The textures have all been improved and the game displays tons of enemies at once but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Little touches like slamming into the water doesn’t even make a large splash. Inside buildings and undergrounds look worse than last generation in their complexity. In the end it’s decent and gets better the higher you go but it’s still the same world and they didn’t do anything dramatic to update the game to today’s standards.

The sound design is a little over the place. The announcer is back and still sounds great but meets the definition of too much of a good thing. He’s incredibly repetitive and talks more than my old next door neighbor. The audio recordings you find are decently done but don’t stack up to what you’d find in a game like Bioshock. Some guns feel like peashooters and lack a cool oomph but the explosives always deliver. The orbs sound as addicting as ever and get stuck in your brain long after the console has been shut down. The ambient game music is largely forgettable but can have its moments while platforming on a dark night. Civilian vehicles will have in-car music which typically comes out of the blue since they exist nowhere else and more jarring to the atmosphere than cool. Overall it’s pretty average, nothing sticks out like a sore thumb over than the in-car music but it does what it needs to do.

It has been over three years since the original Crackdown launched in 2007. The idea of open world titles on the new generation was still much in its infancy at the time and Crackdown set the bar. But the genre has progressed and while Crackdown is still relevant, deeper more rounded games have hit the scene. Unfortunately Crackdown 2 doesn’t do much to stem the tide. It’s basically Crackdown 1 with a new paint job and a couple new tricks. Rockstar has done more in their expansions for Grand Theft Auto 4 than what Ruffian has done here. It’s still a lot of fun and addictive but at the end of the day; it’s essentially the same game with some tweaks. It has retained most of the magic that made the first one so special. The graphics have been improved slightly but nonetheless feels like a nice skin job of the city with ruins and barriers. The sound design is okay but they went way overboard with the announcer. Crackdown 1 was a game that won over our hearts with its simplicity and charm but now with Crackdown 2, not much has evolved. Its quirks are less tolerated and the fun wanes much quicker than before. You’ll easily sink many hours into the title before you know it because it’s Crackdown, but it’s hard to shake that this feels much more like a pricey expansion to a dated game than a full-fledged sequel.


Barebones story. Nearly identical gameplay from the first with a couple new tricks. Other than Rocket Tag, the multiplayer is forgettable. It still has the magic still but its charm is quickly waning.


The explosions cause many cinematic moments. Animations pretty basic and undergrounds look like they are from last generation. The amount of enemies on screen great. The graphics get better the higher you go but it’s still the same world and they didn’t do anything dramatic to update the game to today’s standards.


The announcer is back and still sounds great but meets the definition of too much of a good thing. He’s incredibly repetitive and talks more than my old next door neighbor. Audio recordings are decent. Some guns sound decent and others sound like pea shooters but explosions always sound great.


It’s Crackdown 1 with a new paint job and a couple new tricks. It’s still a lot of fun and incredibly addictive but it’s essentially the same game with some tweaks. Multiplayer is pretty simplistic and suffers from explosion fever and hence cheapness. It still has the magic, but its charm is waning and feels much more like a pricey expansion to a dated game than a full-fledged sequel.

Buy Crackdown 2 for the Xbox 360 from at a great price!

3 Responses

  1. POST says:

    I’m starting to wonder what kind of games do people want? How much different was crackdown 2 suppose 2 be? what were they suppose do so differently? Should they have changed the jump button from A to right trigger, or maybe got rid of the orbs or made them red, crimson and tan colors? there are advancements in the game like melee more flammable items the agents jump even higher than the first game, there are more weapons and vehicles the agents can glide the city is broader and bigger you can fly helicopters. Have any of you played the actual game or just the demo cause to me there are notable differences and improvements between the 2. Bottom line I feel like die hard crackdown fans will appreciate the small changes, but people that never cared that much for the first game or games like it just won’t and those are the people bashing it. The changes weren’t big enough for you fine don’t play the game….I’m having fun either way

  2. Grewg says:


  3. cod black ops says:

    I’m not too fond of the new changes. Especially the Repetitive objectives, Lacks momentum or narrative direction, and the Announcer gets very annoying.