A web of explosions

July 9, 2010 by Tim

Earlier in the week I caught a few relatively disappointing reviews for Crackdown 2. When the game showed up at my doorstep, I was prepared for a bit of a letdown. That didn’t happen.

The reviews are correct, though. It’s a sequel that doesn’t really go above and beyond the original. It makes some overall minor changes here and there, but the end product is by and large more of the same. I don’t necessarily agree that the “If it’s not broke…” mentality is a bad thing when the original product was a lot of fun. However it’s natural to expect that a sequel is going to be bigger and better.

The missions are just as repetitive as the first one. Actually, perhaps even moreso. There’s a small subset of missions, and you’re going to do them a dozen times over the course of the game. The only thing that changes is the location.

The story is… tenuous at best. It’s there to provide things for you to shoot at. Which is fine. Story in a game like Crackdown would just get in the way of the fun the game is built for. The way I see it, Crackdown has a recipe and it works well.

One part open sandbox city, one to four helpings of friends, super powers, guns, fast cars and grenades, and a pinch of team damage. Mix well, serve fresh, let the fun happen.

Like APB, I don’t feel that Crackdown (the original or a sequel) is a game that so much entertains, as it is a game that provides all of the tools and environments for entertainment to happen. Meaning that the most fun I have in these games are the crazy things that happen between players, or with physics, or while just goofing off with friends. The moments about these games I’ll remember are not the missions or the enemies themselves, but instead that time my buddy batted my body around the city for ten minutes with a street sign while I yelled at him to revive me, or the time I tethered a magnetic grenade to the car he was in and chucked the car off a bridge.

It’s the time spent off the beaten path, just playing with the game that will provide the most enjoyment.

I don’t think I’d like Crackdown solo. Super-powered cops or no, I think I’d play it for a little bit, and never touch it again. However the fun multiplies exponentially for each friend you add to the equation, and thankfully Crackdown 2 allows for up to four agents in a game.

All of the powered up abilities are there from the first game. Strength, Agility, Driving, Explosives, etc. You’re still going to spend 90% of your game time collecting agility orbs so that you can leap small buildings and outrun cars. Now they’ve added Renegade Orbs (or Asshole Orbs as we call them) that try to run away from you, for an added challenge.

Your character still mutates and changes the more you rank up, and the armor is pretty badass and presented with much cleaner graphics (I liked the cell-shading from the first game, but it does make things look a little messy). Unfortunately your vehicles no longer transform relative to your driving skill, and I was ready to bitch about this, but I forgive them in light of some of the other new toys they added to the game.

My favorite of which is the magnetic grenade. This is a grenade which you can stick to vehicles and objects. Then, when you stick a second one, the two grenades form a link between each other that acts like a magnet and pulls the two together. You can also detonate these at will. You can stick one to a car driving by, and then throw onto a building three stories up, and watch as the car is yanked off the ground. You can chain multiple cars to a low-flying helicopter. We even used grenades to create a giant slingshot out of a car tethered to two buildings.

And these are the kinds of things that are fun to play with on your own, but absolutely golden with friends. Crackdown 2 is a co-op game, through and through. That’s where your fun will come from. The missions are just there to give you a reason to move forward from time to time, and move you to new areas. If you liked the first one, if you’re looking for a co-op game, you’ll probably like Crackdown. But a story or incredibly memory boss fights are not part of this game’s repertoire.

You won’t find better super-powered cops anywhere though.

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