Crackdown 2 (XBOX 360)

After a couple of years of waiting and a change of developer the sequel to Crackdown is finally here.

I reviewed it for SquareGo Magazine here.

Full text below the cut:

Crackdown 2

Ruffian Games
Crackdown 2

It’s been two years since players took up the reins and cleaned the streets of crime in Crackdown and our return to the sweeping highways and towering edifices of Pacific City couldn’t be better timed. The pristine and beautiful city of the future left at the close of the first game; blissfully gang-member free and under the control of ‘The Agency’, has lapsed into turmoil in the decade that has passed.

The place has truly gone to hell in a handbasket as each evening hordes of mutant freaks burrow out of underground cave systems to attack the citizen body. If that weren’t bad enough, the Agency has to contend with a growing insurgency from a terrorist group known simply as Cell. It’s up to the player’s agent to rescue the city from both of these threats which seem to be inexplicably interconnected.

As if the Crackdown didn’t make it plain enough, the Agency is not entirely to be trusted and you often feel slightly uncomfortable with the over-zealous voice-over telling you that the evil insurgents must be put down with extreme force. Needless to say there is a lot more going on behind the scenes and various audio logs and messages sent to the player gradually inform you of the deeper issues at hand.

Anyone who put the hours into the original will be at home within minutes here as the running, shooting and driving feels almost identical to the old controls and if anything smoother. Not that it’s niggle free, bizarrely there are two jump buttons but no button to centre the view; leading to lots of panning around in a firefight. And actually, aside from the occasionally annoying suicidal citizen who throws themselves under your car, that might just be the only problem.

Unlike Crackdown there isn’t the same focus of wiping out gangs and building up to boss battles. Instead each sector of the city has three Cell control points to hold as well as three absorption units to activate in order to help wipe out Freak lairs. Since these can be done in any order there isn’t such a linear progression to be worked through. Leading to lots more exploration and freeform entertainment and freeing up time to seek out the all important hidden orbs and audio logs dotted around the sandbox of a city.

And what a city it is, Pacific City is a vast and detailed place, building and expanding upon the original game map but with new buildings and fresh areas to explore. Better still it has nice little touches, such as the wandering citizens and even the occasional busker, who in one case was shot dead by police officers with a satisfying guitar twang.

The game plays brilliantly, with every gun giving a satisfying roar and each explosion ripping along the streets with genuinely jaw-dropping effect. What makes it even better is the jump-in system where fellow gamers can drop into your game and help out. It runs like a dream and can be set for friends-only (to avoid idiots messing your game up) allowing players to jump in and give a hand with the gunplay, as well as letting you play achievement giving games; like playing keepie-uppy with cars and having street and rooftop races.

Crackdown 2 plays like a dream and builds on the original game in every way to great effect. At any time this would be a must-have buy and in a game dry summer it’s a landmark release which no right-minded gamer should pass up. The series may be in new hands but Ruffian Games have put themselves on the map with a solid gold title.



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