Crackdown is one of the first games I got for my 360, suggested by a friend that knew I like madcap third person action, GTA sandbox gameplay and platforming and after a while of finding it infuriating that I didn't seem to have any of the promoted superpowers, I jumped around finding orbs and finding orbs was mega addictive. The sound of finding an agility orb and collecting it as you got near to was so gratifying, as was levelling up your agility to make easy work of a gang kingpin and challenging yourself to reach that building in the great draw distance. I loved Crackdown and the near perfect, but simple game design so much that I have officially gone through the game 3 times whilst I waited for a sequel.
Then one day. A sequel I did get! It all sounded so perfect, a year after the excellent Crackdown'ish Prototype came Crackdown 2, a game that I genuinely thought would get the crown back from Infamous and Prototype as THE superpower sandbox game, just by being a sequel of the original. It was announced to be by a different studio, but made by the same design leads...what could go wrong?
What went wrong is the fact that Crackdown 2 is basically more Crackdown, it's nothing more. The same city, just rusted away, the same agent with the same abilities you have to level up to all over again.
'But who cares?' I thought and joyfully jumped around getting agility orbs once again and in about an hour, I already had about 60 orbs from the first point you get dropped into and adjusting my jump height, then I saw one of the renegade agility orbs you have to chase after, which by far, conceptually is the best (if not annoying) innovation and new feature in Crackdown 2 and the reason for that is, because very little is new and accessible early in the game.
Instead of gangs and kingpins in the original Crackdown, you now have 2 factions warring over the city. The Cell and Freaks. The Cell are ragtag survivors of the city from the zombie-like creatures the Freaks which have been unleashed into a city, via a virus. The Agency have created you, the latest version of the Agent to turn on a complex network of devices which intake UV light in order to destroy the freaks, like vampires, only come out at night and for some reason which isn't completely explained, The Cell faction are guarding these units.
The problem is, all these units are easy to get to. It's just a matter of shooting everyone in sight to capture the point and then standing on a button to activate it. Do this three times and then you'll be told to enter a Freak hive which are usually positioned quite far up and protect a UV bomb from a barrage of Freaks from being ruined before it detonates and disintegrates the freaks, a UV shotgun usually makes light work of this.
This may sound like fun. But the WHOLE GAME is like this. TWO MISSION types. Shoot everything in sight, protect, activate. That's it. Only halfway through the game these simple tasks get a bit more variety, say, like introducing a new freak, then once you're used to that, it'll put another one in the next hive. Rinse, repeat.
I'm not saying that Crackdown 2 is BAD. Nor a BAD sequel, Crackdown 2 is pretty much more of the same game, which is all a sequel really should be, just more of the game you liked before. But the main problem is Crackdown 2 takes away more than what was in the original Crackdown. The cars no longer transform, there is no climbing difficulty in the missions, the weapons are virtually the same add so neat guns like the UV gun, the controls are the same. The game treats an upgrade like you've never had it before, despite getting exactly the same upgrade and mastering it in the original game. There isn't even a grand finale that you HAVE to level up completely to get to and the end mission is just way too easy compared to the epic skyscraper scramble in the original game.
But Crackdown 2 is a lot of fun, a bit of fiddling with the Mag grenades and running over freaks to gain driving skills is admittedly great to do. It's just a shame that Crackdown 2 focused on becoming a playground instead of a sandbox, with missions which increased in difficulty. I hardly even drove the cars, because the first area I was dropped into was that generous with agility orbs I could reach everywhere just by leap frogging buildings. There isn't even any ramps to jump the cars off of. In fact, there are very little cars onscreen most the time. Add to this, before you know it, the wandering freaks are weak as soggy toilet paper, they aren't a threat for that long when walking in the streets and those helicopters? You can only get one of those from ONE place. That gliding suit? Well, to me, the thing was virtually unusable and just involves crashing down onto the ground. Gliding in Prototype is a lot better.
I'm glad I rented this game. So, with playing Crackdown 2, I expected a game which could best Prototype which was mimicking Crackdown. Crackdown 2 was fun whilst it lasted and some would get annoyed with it's repetitiveness, but it dropped the ball. I don't think I'll be completing this one 3 times and I'm glad I rented it.
So if you're a Crackdown fan, rent Crackdown 2 like I did. It's an insult for a sequel this many years later, hardly anything changed at all, if MS got on the phone earlier we probably could of had this game a year after the original, because that's how it feels. It's like L4D1 to L4D2, it's improved, but only refined a bit. But again, Crackdown 2 is fun while it lasts.
But it's no Crackdown, or for that matter, Prototype which after Crackdown 2, I consider as the real sequel of Crackdown. Here's hoping Ruffian make something better and expand the actual universe the next time around...if there is another one, because this is a great IP with potential in pure sight being wasted.
I'm saying rent this. Buying this at the RRP is pointless it's even worse than buying a COD 4 piece map pack, it's one to get when it's cheaper and believe me, it'll get to the price of a secondhand copy or the original Crackdown soon.
But, it is fun and there's a lot of stuff to do...if you can be bothered. From what I remember, Prototype was a lot better and it's shameful to say, but Crackdown 2 became a secondrate clone of the whole scenario of Prototype.