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Review: Crackdown 2

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The original Crackdown will always be known as “that game that gave you access to the Halo 3 beta” back in 2007 – which is perhaps a little unfair. Crackdown was a fun take on sandbox games, giving gamers control over testosterone fueled super cops referred to as ‘Agents’ to rescue a city that was rife with crime.

The big appeal of Crackdown was simply goofing off and making your own fun. There’s a city that needs to be saved you say? Screw that, I’m going to stack some cars in to a massive pile and blow it all up, or perhaps I could club an old lady around the head with a lamppost and then throw her body at some Mexican drug dealers. Crackdown 2 retains this feel – except this time you can use some magnets to fling a car at a horde of zombie-esque mutants called Freaks that plague the city at night.

Ten years have passed since the original game and the first batch of Agents that were used in the first game have all been wiped out by a virus that turns people in to mutants that terrorise the city at night – The Agency has finally produced more Agents and now it’s time to wipe out the Freak virus and take down a terrorist organisation known as Cell – headed by Catalina Thorne – the person who’s responsible for the Freak outbreak in the first place.

And, well – that’s about it, actually. Crackdown 2 makes no pretenses on what it is – you’re here to blow stuff up and you’re going to like it. Annoyingly most of the plot is told through audiologs – but this makes much of the story that’s here inaccessible to players who don’t collect them. Crackdown 2 has a story to tell, but it just doesn’t tell it particularly well – a shame because Crackdown 2 has potential for a fun plot in an 80’s action movie kind of way.

But to play Crackdown 2 for its epic story and deep, complex characters is to totally miss the point of the game. Crackdown 2 is an absolute playground for gamers, providing them with the tools that they need to just, well, mess about. Go and complete the games missions if you want, or you could try climbing a tall building and jumping off of it – maybe you just want to go on a killing spree in a bigass Tank.

It’s a shame that the game recycles the same city that it did in the first game – the general layout and structure of Pacific City is much the same as it was in the original game – except that some buildings appear to be more destroyed and there’s generally a grittier look to everything. It leaves Crackdown 2 feeling a bit too familiar to its predecessor, but it’s ultimately still a fun game.

Crackdown 2 is a game that’s meant to be played cooperatively. You can go it solo if you want, but the enjoyment that you’ll get out of it definitely increases with the more people that you have playing. It’s fun to assign roles to players to perform different tasks – you could have one guy running around as infantry while another drives a tank, with a third player flying a Helicopter and a forth player Sniping. The freedom that Crackdown 2 gives you is unrivaled by most other games.

A major complaint that I’ll give though is the fact that vehicles don’t really seem to serve a purpose, driving around Pacific City can be a bit of a chore with all of the blocks and barricades that are in the way and it’s often better to just get somewhere by foot. Helicopters can be flown but they’re grossly underused – if I hadn’t seen trailers and developer diaries for the game I wouldn’t have even known that you could fly them. The Helicopters appear to be tucked out of the way from the rest of the game.

It seems daft because the Helicopters are easily one of the most fun parts of the game – and yet it doesn’t use them at all. It would have been cool to have a mission where you can provide air support for Peacekeepers or something but unfortunately Crackdown 2 lacks this. Most of the missions involve you either taking a gang stronghold or activating a beacon to destroy the Freak infestion.

So yes – Crackdown 2 still gets repetitive much like its predecessor did, which is a shame given Crackdown 2’s increased arsenal of weapons and vehicles. Unfortunately the Keys to the City cheat mode doesn’t ship with the game, though it can be downloaded for free on the Xbox Live Marketplace.

So Crackdown 2 is far from a perfect game, it’s still somewhat repetitive and doesn’t ship with as many bells and whistles as I would have liked, but I’d be lying if I said that this wasn’t a fun game. Crackdown 2 easily be found for less than £15 these days which softens the blow of having to pay for some DLC to get the most out of it, though savvy consumers might want to wait for a Game Of The Year edition of some sort to be released at this point.

What the game looks like

Crackdown 2 in action

The verdict

Good: Pretty much the best game around for messing about in, plenty of weapons, gadgets and vehicles to keep your thirst for violence satisfied.

Bad: Lacking any meaningful plot, recycled city, repetitive missions, some vehicles feel underused.

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Written by Pokeh

November 29, 2010 at 9:55 pm

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