Don't expect anything revolutionary in Crackdown 2, the process that made this game great is almost identical. Apart from minor improvements this is still the same game, same graphics and sandbox fun. What does this mean for players of the original? If you were sick of the orb collecting gameplay or found it a bit bland, you will also find this game bland. On the upside, fans of the original should absolutely crave another trip back to Pacific City.
For those who have never played Crackdown, this is a sandbox game that is all about exploration with minimal story thrown in to keep you ticking along. There are objectives to complete in the game, but levelling up your super agent by fighting, driving and orb collecting your way through this huge city is the main attraction. While Rockstar is going for a real experience in the Grand Theft Auto experience, Real Time World is sprinting in the opposite direction with your main character. From the word go your agent has the ability to jump high into the air, throw cars at people and much more available as you upgrade your stats. This super hero-action is a tonne of fun and really lets Crackdown 2 stand out from the competition.
Crackdown 2 is not a game you are going to show off for it's stunning looks. The graphics are average at best, but somehow they work well with this game. The city is huge and as a result many of the buildings around the world are lacking those personal features that would take this game to the next level. Many buildings are trademarks around the city and stand out particularly for those who played the original. Pacific City is basically the same city from Crackdown, but the freaks and terrorists have taken their toll on the overall upkeep. This game is dirtier than before with many buildings falling apart and often over run with freaks.
Explosions are a big part of the Crackdown environment. The large array of weapons at your disposal and the common placement of items that are just waiting to blow up make this a large minefield. The explosions look decent, but because of the cities limitations we don't have a destructible environment. It would be nice to see, but realistically it is for our own good. I can imagine people getting extremely frustrated if they blew out the side of a building and were then unable to collect an orb on top.
Some of the sames issues from the predecessor have cropped up again in this game. Locking your aim with the gun has improved for me as I found it easier to lock onto the bad guy I wanted to. The melee animations are still borderline awful and do not look good at all. It looks like your agent is having a fit while killing a freak or terrorist at the same time. One thing that has certainly improved however is all the menus and text that appears on the screen. The game now looks more professional and I prefer the enhanced layout.
Crackdown is one of my favourite games to play with the sound on. Unlike most experiences where the sound effects blow me away, it is the sergeant giving you instructions and tips who defines this game. The voice over man is someone any girl would die for with the voice of an absolute hero. Whenever you get an achievement or do well he will pipe up and give you encouragement. This light-hearted approach to the game works extremely well and I love the voice overs. Voice over aside, the explosions and gun shots in Crackdown do sound nice, but aren't overly spectacular.
Let's get this straight, Crackdown 2 is a fun game if you can accept that this won't give you the intense story of Grand Theft Auto or related games. In the beginning of the game the cool voice over man explains the situation for your knowledge, before setting you out on a tutorial to the game. Pacific City has had a devastating plague which has affected many people who conveniently turned into big freaks. This has thrown the city into turmoil and a terrorist group called The Cell has attempted to take over what's left of the mess. Surprise surprise, it is up to you to save the day with your superhuman abilities.
You main objective is to activate beacons all around the city to stop The Cell. As you progress through the game though you will need to find orbs to upgrade your skills to keep one jump ahead of your enemies. Exploration is the real key to Crackdown 2 and is the only thing that keeps the whole game from being a real drag to play. If you don't explore every nook and cranny of this huge city you will really miss out on all the small joys to be found.
Along the way you will come across various side missions such as road or rooftop races that reward you with much needed stats. These aren't the greatest or most original side quests I have ever faced but are nice for mixing up the orb collecting for a while. A lot of different vehicles are found in Pacific City including some hard to reach helicopters that have some devastating rockets attached. There is a lot to be found outside of the main story that will entertain you and is the second best area of this game.
The largest improvement in this sequel is the ability to play through the game with friends. The game is twice as good now that we can play in our own game with up to 3 other players over Live. We also have the ability to join someone elses world and help them collect Co-Op only Orbs and just have all-round killing fun. I thought I would miss out on a big part of the game if no one I knew bought Crackdown 2, but anyone can join your world and help out as long as you allow it. This game be a great way to meet people who have are experts at the game and can help you out, but some annoying players may try and hinder you which can get frustrating.
Crackdown 2 is an interesting game. Not everyone will be able to enjoy the lack of a fulfilling story, but those who do will be able to appreciate Pacific City. It is nice to be the good guy saving the day, instead of the bad guy creating havoc. Real Time World has done well to continue on with the differences that make the original so popular, but I feel like it doesn't throw in enough new features.
If you loved the original, Crackdown 2 will bring a sense of nostalgia as you revisit the once bright Pacific City. First time buyers should really consider this title if money isn't a problem because it just offers more than the original. Multiplayer was a bright point for me and sharing the experience with friends or strangers is rewarding and lengthens the experience. Crackdown 2 isn't the shock game we received last time, so people were probably expecting more this time. I don't believe that we have gotten everything we could have hoped for, but it is still a nice title.
Graphics - 5.5/10
Sound - 9/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Overall - 7/10