Set 10 years into the future after the ominous conclusion of Crackdown, the sequel sees you in the familiar role of an unnamed, genetically modified law enforcement “Agent” in the now ruined Pacific City.
Grab your guns and lock and load for non-stop heart pounding action as the streets of Pacific City are overrun by the mutated Freaks and the shadowy plot behind The Cell.
Following the resounding success that was your visit to Pacific City, you would be forgiven for thinking that on your return to the futuristic city, that all would be well and that Dystopia had given way to Utopia? In the intervening decade, the population has been ravaged by the virus that was released accidentally in the first game, which mutates the citizens into hideous “freaks”. The more morally questionable of the surviving populous have organised themselves into “The Cell” – an army of criminal terrorists that replaces the street gangs of the franchises first outing, and sees the numerous militia becoming the prime antagonists for your campaign.
So basically, the ‘Freaks’ and ‘The Cell’ make up the opposing factions in this sprawling metropolitan title. The Cell inhabitant the city’s streets and are housed in ‘strongholds’ throughout the daytime. The Freaks have a similar format only they have a decidedly more nocturnal approach to their lifestyle.
Both factions have their strengths and weaknesses. By that we mean that although unarmed, The Freaks will be a threat to you by the sheer volume of numbers that pound their fists and attempt to pummel you into a greasy stain on the pavement. Although there are ‘Super Freaks’ who have the ability to dispense projectiles of varying descriptions. Be it a laser style attack, as is demonstrated when you attempt to construct the ‘beacons’ in the heart of the Freak’s underground lair’s, or in the thrown weapons of these brutish opponents. These are foes to be reckoned with.
The Cell are armed to teeth with everything from highly accurate and fast shooting rocket launchers, to the standard issue semi automatic rifles and shotguns. They may be numerically weaker than the Freaks, however what they lack in numbers, they more than make up for in hardware and weaponry.
The Agency does supply you with a goodly array of tech and weapons with which you may rain death around the ears of your enemies. You can also upgrade your arsenal throughout the game, and as you progress there will be frequent additions to your armoury. There are also some twenty vehicles for you to take advantage of, and the one that we enjoyed the most was the Buggy with the minigun mounted as a forward cannon. Many happy moments were had as we sped around the highway’s and by-way’s of Pacific City spitting furious hot lead at all who dared cross our path. The games developers, Ruffian, have also included this time round, a collection of UV weapons which come in extremely handy for the night-time sorties against the Freaks.
So with the Narrator’s dulcet tones ringing in our ears we set out on our campaign to rid the streets of the filth that is The Cell and the detritus of the Freaks. After first learning the controls and getting to grips with the layout of the gameplay, You are introduced to the way that the game will punish or praise you dependant upon your actions. Injuring and killing the innocent civilians of Pacific City and their appointed Agency protectors will result in a stern warning from the Narrator. Prolonged antagonistic behaviour towards your allies and the general public will have dire consequences should you choose to ignore the warnings of the detached ‘voice in the sky?‘ It is then you will get a taste of what the other side has to fear from your Agency brethren, as their muzzles are turned and faced directly at you in retribution. Should you survive the timed penalty you will be informed that you should learn from this lesson.
Players who visited the Pacific City environ the first time around will instantly recognise their surroundings and, in a way, take heart from the fact that although there is little change from the first Crackdown. There is enough to keep the title fresh and more than enough to keep gamers happy. Familiarity, it is said, breeds contempt? Well, in defense of Crackdown 2 and the return of the much-loved gameplay and locations, this we found was not to be the case at all. Rather than turning us away from Pacific City we discovered that instead, we were enjoying that we did not have to spend 20 hours running around area’s and scrambling up and down buildings to get the ‘feel’ for the map. No driving around like a screaming banshee in our Agency buggy remembering short cut’s and fastest routes for us, as all was just how we left it 10 years prior. Instead this familiarity allows you to jump straight in to the thick of the action and tackle your objectives almost instantly.
Although vehicles were available in the first of the Crackdown titles, it is in the sequel where the cars and modified machines of The Cell come to the fore. Races are littered throughout the city, as are driving ‘ability orbs’ and challengs which increase your skills behind the wheel, as well as the contents of your Agency garage. As the game progresses and the standard of your vehicular skills becomes more apparent, you will be rewarded by faster and more powerful modes of transport, culminating in the Piece de Resistance, as you take delivery of the Agency helicopter. Murderous merriment and mayhem are included in the flight manual.
Progress in the campaign Crackdown 2 is largely similar to its predecessor, though instead of attacking the bases of a range of gangs, your aim now is to deploy ‘Project Sunburst’. To do this you must activate a number of the aforementioned ‘Absorption Units’, which are well defended by the tougher Freaks and their ability to shoot, you then enter a Freak lair and deploy a beacon. Once the beacon is dropped, you must defend it from Freak attack until it can be brought on-line and detonated.
As with every enemy Stronghold that you tackle you will notice that they all have several key points which you must also attack and conquer if your mission is to be a success? To accomplish this feet of combat mastery, you must approach the target and advance to the designated area, where you will call in Agency support by helicopter. You must then hold off the counter attacks from The Cell operatives in order for the Agency chopper to successfully deploy its quota of troops to then command the zone. To merely take one or two and not all, is to invite a counter insurgency by Cell forces and you will then have to secure that target zone all over again. Once the location has been successfully taken it will be available for the player to call in re-supply drops, and all the weapons acquired from the dead Cell troops in the attack are then placed at your disposal after inclusion to your personal Agency armoury.
By far the most notable difference between Crackdown 2 and its predecessor is the inclusion into the menu select of the Multiplayer mode. Crackdown 2 may not have the revolutionary multiplayer experience, but what it does have is pure gaming bliss. The online modes we are certain, will be a big hit with gamers from all around the globe as the gameplay is slick and compelling without being overcomplicated or long-winded. You also have the added bonus of being able to play a four-way Co-oP in Campaign mode, dropping in and out of one another’s games as you see fit. The more difficult missions in Crackdown 2 benefit enormously from the Co-oP Mode, as having another gamer at your side for support throughout the more challenging sections of the game can literally be the difference between success and failure. For Death Match and Player vs Player games up to 16 players can compete simultaneously. The resultant carnage and chaos that ensues is great fun for all gamers involved and we can readily suggest that you try this mode.
So to put it all together and come up with the conclusion to the review goes like this:
Crackdown 2 has returned after an extended absence to an admiring public who have high expectations for an exclusive Microsoft title that will be a flagship moment that confirms and validates their choice of console purchase. Does it accomplish what the loyal Xbox360 gamers wish for? Well, quite frankly ‘Yes‘ it does. On all counts.
Graphics: Revamped and remodelled. It’s a credit to Microsoft Game Studio’s and the developer’s Ruffian that they have taken such a hugely popular title and manged to achieve so much from the same venue whilst still managing to make it look fresh and vivid. 9
Gameplay: Fantastic, just top-notch gaming that satisfies even the most ardent of fans of most genres. Everything is here in Crackdown 2. Open world, shooter action,RPG style upgrades and character development as well as racing, flying, fighting, climbing and free roaming. The list goes on and so does the fun. 9
RePlay Value: The single play campaign is immense. Tack on the four way Co-oP and you have a guaranteed return. Then go one step further and consider the addictive multiplayer action that is to be had? All this and more awaits you at Pacific City. 9
Presentation: Crackdown was an underground success as the title seemed to come from nowhere to blow the socks off a generation of Xbox360 gamers. Its successor builds on the great gaming reputation of its predecessor and continues to blow the socks off a whole new generation of gamers, as well as us older guys too. Everything about this title spells ‘hit’ for Microsoft and rightly so! A fantastic gaming experience that keeps you coming back for more. 9