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Review: Crackdown 2

Agent! We have a new threat to Pacific City: Mutated humans, or "Freaks" as we at the Agency like to call them, have taken over. Our efforts to contain the Freaks are being thwarted by Cell, a terrorist group bent on destroying the city. So Agent, it is your job to rid the city of trash and bring peace to the citizens once again. Are you up to the job at hand?

Crackdown 2 is just what you would expect to get in a sequel. Everything you liked about the first Crackdown is essentially back for seconds. Between the big explosions, orb chasing, and crazy antics that you can pull off, it's like you never left Pacific City. The premise this time around is that there are now two threats instead of one. Not that the premise in Crackdown was all that deep but even with the additional threat the sequel seems a little too empty. Activating beacons just seems less satisfying than taking out strongholds and the Gang Bosses from the previous game. Instead of strongholds, Crackdown 2 has Tactical locations that when you take them over, you can request new weapons and vehicles from the Agency. With these minor cosmetic changes, it still feels the same to me and that can be either good or bad depending on how you liked the first game.

For a game that took 3 years to arrive, it still looks like an Xbox 360 launch title. Besides the face lift on the city and a day/night cycle, everything looks a bit outdated. There is no detail in anything to make it look like some work actually went into the art design. Things should not look like a 4 year old did finger painting for the graphics. Crackdown 2 also carries over the issues gamers had from the first game when it comes to climbing. It is still inconsistent on what you can and cannot grab a hold of in order to climb up a building. I even had times where I could grab the ledge, jump up, miss the ledge above me and as I come down to the ledge I was just on, totally fall right past it like it wasn't there. These things should have been corrected before Crackdown 2 went gold. That's what these companies pay testers for, isn't it?

And while combat is still fun, some of the things that I wish Ruffian Games would have changed is the lock-on mechanics. It makes for frustrating times when you are surrounded by enemies and you try to lock-on to an attacker only to engage a deadly explosive barrel (because we all know that an inanimate object is a more immediate threat than a rocket launcher touting maniac). It would be simple to add a cycling mechanic so you can switch targets using the lock-on system and it baffles me why Ruffian Games did not include that in the finished game. That being said, I do enjoy the weapon selection in Crackdown 2. Aside from the normal death dealing weaponry, the Agency provides some advance equipment to deal with the Freaks. Since UV light is dangerous to the mutated Freaks, UV shotguns and UV grenades are so satisfying to use against massive oncoming waves.

The leveling up system is still in place from the original Crackdown. Guns, Explosives, Driving, Agility and Strength are all there for you to pump up to the next level. Crackdown 2 does make it to where you have to get your Agility level to at least 4 in order to progress further in the game. This kind of feels like a way to extend the game longer since getting your skills to the higher levels takes a lot of time and patience to get there.

Additionally, If the firepower that the Agency so graciously lets you use is not enough to take on the venom that is poisoning the city, Crackdown 2 has added 4 player co-op as opposed to just the 2 player co-op from the first game. Friendly fire aside, playing co-op is the best thing in Crackdown 2 for me. Four super enhanced agents jumping around on rooftops decimating everything that stands up to you and your friends... what's not to love about that?

The announcer character is also back and seems more vocal this time around. Besides the usual verbal abuse he spews forth, he now has some funny quips when you unlock some achievements. I don't think I could ever get tired of the announcer talking about some of the latest achievements I acquired. There is some repeat dialogue that you will notice from time to time which makes me wish there were more lines given but he's still a welcome return to the franchise.

One thing that I am sure that Crackdown 2 did not need in any way is Multiplayer. Playing the same tired Team Deathmatch, Free-For-All style matches don't add to the enjoyment of this series. Rocket tag is a nice variation in game modes these days but that still doesn't change the fact that Multiplayer is only engaging enough for a quick romp through the city streets before one gets bored.

Loved the first Crackdown? Then this game will satisfy that need to play in that world again. Did you buy the first Crackdown just for the Halo 3 beta? Then this might not be the game to purchase this time around since there is no Halo beta bundled with the game. Ultimately for everyone else, go out and buy the first Crackdown for cheap. It is a better experience to be had than shelling out $60 for nothing more than a cut and paste job with a few tweaks.