In the beginning the Agency crafted the perfect Agent and sent him out to dispose of the major gangs of Pacific City: Los Muertos, the Volk and the Shai-Gen Corporation. There was a brief moment of peace in the city, but the mutants from the research facility present in the first game have increased in number and run the city each night. This is due to an ex-Agency scientist, Catalina Thorne, who is responsible for leaking the virus into the city turning a large percentage of the population into Freaks. Of course this was done after she destroyed the research labs in the Agency. This erased the Agent program thus leaving the Agency powerless. Thorne used this time to gather followers and create the group known as Cell which devotes its time to bringing down the Agency and obtaining an antidote. As the Agency rebuilt itself it concocted a plan labeled Project Sunburst. Ten years after their last Agent program they are ready to create and release a new Agent into Pacific City once again to clean up the mess and execute their plan.
Realtime Worlds is not behind this sequel. Instead Ruffian Games has taken over. No need to worry though since Billy Thomson is the creative director overlooking Crackdown 2. He worked on the original Crackdown and then switched from Realtime Worlds to Ruffian Games. The series continues its over-the-top sandbox gameplay that it pulled off so well the first time around. Does the sequel maintain the same top notch experience as the first? Do the new tweaks and additions help or hinder the game? Let’s find out.
Skills For Kills Agent
Those familiar with the first Crackdown will not have any trouble picking up the controls and completing the assigned tasks. Pacific City is back and looking a little worn out. Nevertheless the city remains a wonderful playground of destruction with numerous buildings to scale and tunnel systems to explore. Gameplay feels a lot more balanced this time around. A level one Agent in the first game could roundhouse kick his way through waves of enemies given its ability to knock people down. At the start of Crackdown 2 you will immediately notice that this can not be accomplished early on. Melee attacks chip away at enemies’ health through constant attacks, but they will not hit the ground due to basic kicks and punches. On the subject of melee it has been greatly improved. There is no longer just one attack option. Combos can be strung together. These vary between sliding kicks to uppercuts and that is just the beginning. As you train your Agent in physical strength new options will become available. After a while you will be able to execute deadly ground strikes, detach mounted turrets and even grab large pieces of debris and use them as an oversized baseball bat. That is one of the major improvements here. Leveling up in different areas unlocks new equipment and/or abilities. It keeps the experience fresh over the course of the campaign.
Weapons are much more diverse and satisfying during this second visit to Pacific City. You will start out with the basic Agency issued weapons, but will quickly discover new weapons through looting dead enemies or leveling up their Agent’s weapon skill. Sure, the assault rifle will get the job done eventually, but if the Freaks come sprinting in it could be a hard fight. That is where the new special UV weapons come in. Most will become familiar with the UV shotgun as it repels Freaks into the air where the disintegrate. While it is entertaining it is far from being able to compete with later guns such as the harpoon gun. This piece of equipment will launch people across great distances until the pin up against a solid surface. The harpoon gun can also be used to deck out your ride with the bodies of your victims. The explosive skill works in a similar fashion. Each time you level up your arsenal grows larger. You can work toward proximity mines and shrapnel grenades, but the best of the best can not be achieved by normal leveling up alone. Some may remember being able to pick up a small rubber duck in the first Crackdown. It was not of much use and did not really have much of an effect when thrown. If you partake in a Facebook game called Chuck’s Ducks 2 you can unlock the game’s greatest explosive item. The rubber duck has fully decked out stats (damage and blast radius). Access to this item is located somewhere in the city as well. Try looking around the old amusement park. This is just a taste of the wackiness you can expect.
Agility starts out at the basic run and jump heights, but after excessive orb hunting or roof top races it will quickly evolve past the peak of the last game’s. Agility also unlocks new abilities as well as increasing jump height and running speed. The greatest of all of these goes active once the final level of agility is achieved. The wingsuit adds the gliding skill. Players can leap from tall structures and press Y while falling. This activates the dive and blue streams flow from the Agent. Once the steams turn red that informs the player that enough momentum has been gained to pull up and lift off like a plane. The scenarios that sprout out of this are never the same and always enjoyable.
Driving has been given a boost since the Agency vehicles have expanded their selection – although the vehicles no longer transform with each driving level increase – and have allowed the Agent to select from other factions’ vehicles once unlocked. The supercar maintains its breakneck speeds and the SUV has retained its wall climbing maneuver. A buggy fixed with a turret and a tank have been added to the Agency’s mix. The buggy has responsive handling and has obvious attack capabilities. The tank is what you would expect. It is bulky, solid and powerful. This adds to the already insane amount of mayhem possible within the game.
As I explained the different skills it worth noting that most players will find themselves easily maxing out their stats by the end of the game. This is because Crackdown 2 does a lot better job of making the player use different tactics in each combat scenario. In the first game I rarely found myself using anything but the melee attack. Even though the melee attack becomes a force to be reckoned with at level three I mainly focused it on the Freaks. When it came to Cell they usually overwhelmed me with various gun fire and they were spread too far apart to deliver swift kicks of justice to individually. I really began to love how the game subtly forced you to use every aspect of your character throughout the game.
Catch it! Don’t Let It Get Away
Fans of the series will either remember orb hunting as a tedious task or an addicting distracting. For those in the latter category you will find yourself right at home. The game’s impressive draw distance makes spotting agility orbs quite easy. In order to max out your agility skill it is crucial that you take the time to collect a good portion of the five hundred available agility orbs scattered throughout Pacific City. Most of the time I found myself side tracked by the orbs. One second I was on my way to take over a series of enemy strongholds and then I would see an orb and climb up to reach it. This inevitably led to seeing more orbs atop the surrounding buildings and it would turn into a forty five minute collection spree as each orb obtained only put another one in sight. The fact is you will rarely scale an entire building, collect one orb and get on with the mission at hand. They have a tendency of overtaking your current objective and becoming a mission on their own. It is rewarding and addicting, but basic agility orbs are only half the fun.
Renegade orbs have been set loose in the city and add a large boost to their respective skill. They come in two types: agility and driving. Renegade agility orbs usually require a skill level of at least three to catch unless you can cut off the orb’s path perfectly. They are smart for the most part. You will not be able to just memorize an orb’s pattern then wait for it to come around full circle and run into you. It will wait until you get close enough to it so it can attempt to evade you. Also, if you try to jump in front of the orb it will reverse its direction. The further in the game you get the more complex the paths become. Renegade driving orbs are quick and can only be obtained if inside a vehicle. Some will recommend that you use a specific Agency vehicle such as the supercar if its fast or the SUV if it goes across uneven terrain. Just like the agility orbs some can be snagged using some tricky driving maneuvers.
You’ll Have To Buddy Up
Crackdown 2 doubles the possibilities of its predecessor by allowing four players to partake in full campaign co-op instead of two. Actually the game’s fun factor increases significantly since you will have some (hopefully) intelligent characters on the screen to help take down enemies and absorb gunshots. Those going solo will know what I mean the first time they get bombarded with a persistent stream of homing rockets rammed up into them as they try to scale the buildings to escape heavily fortified areas. Having three other players run around the city with you blowing up car Freaks and gunning down Cell is an experience that will never disappoint no matter how many times try it out. When the first Crackdown came out videos started to appear of which some included two players piling barrels and cars in an intersection to create the ultimate explosion. Now imagine what could be done using twice as many players and even more powerful explosives that can be found.
Maybe competitive play has always tickled your fancy more than the cooperative side of multiplayer. Crackdown 2 has you covered. Up to sixteen Agents can jump into a PvP arena. Modes like Rocket Tag are back that were created and made popular in the first game. The hectic and chaotic nature of sixteen genetically enhanced Agents running loose with an expansive arsenal at their fingertips is unforgettable and will easily hold your attention for hours on end.
The final aspect of mutliplayer comes in the form of Xbox Live Orbs. These orbs will show up slightly transparent to anyone running through the game as a lone wolf. To collect these special orbs players will need to team up with at least one other player. If for whatever reason you did not have enough of a reason to try out the online aspect of the game, then this is sure to draw in the completionists out there.
Get To That Absorption Unit Agent
You will hear this line quite a bit. “This is an enemy stronghold Agent.” comes up just as often. The game can be completed without touching the tactical locations or Freak breaches. The story revolves around the Agency’s plan, Project Sunburst. In order for this plan to be successful it is up to the Agent to reclaim and reactivate the absorption units that Cell has secured. Crackdown was not a game that provided players with a deep narrative complimented by numerous plot twists and intriguing character arcs, but this one simplifies itself even more than the original. The story primarily unfolds through the discovery of audio logs that can be found laying in various places in the city, but even those only really provide a background to the events currently at hand. Just like the last game the story really appears at the end of the game as if to explain everything you have been doing for the last several hours. Sure you are told that the Freaks and Cell must be eliminated during your missions, but just enough info is released to you to justify slaughtering almost anything on screen till you reach the end.
That Peacekeeper Had A Family
I enjoyed the voice that guided your Agent in the first game and he has returned for the sequel. Unfortunately, I found myself wishing he would shut up half the time. It is not necessary to state that I have earned an achievement when I can clearly see the notification that has popped up. The annoyance can hit immediately since the beginning of the game provides many achievements for various “firsts” such as collecting your first agility orb. These are all followed by the iconic voice informing you that you have unlocked an achievement. This is far from the worst thing about the narrator though. I could listen to him list my achievements all day since none of them repeat, but when it comes to objectives, vehicles or punishment he tends to repeat himself often. “Get to that absorption unit Agent!” “That Peacekeeper had a wife and child. Maybe you’d like to be the one to break the bad news.” “Now can we please get back to the objective at hand?” His repetition borders the insanity that players endured listening to Fiona in Mercenaries 2. Also, he will constantly have Peacekeepers come after you even though he just told you to catch that renegade driving orb that just happened to go down a narrow alley filled wall to wall with civilians. The quick fix here is a trip to the options menu and turning down the volume on the voice. Less nagging equals more fun.
Wow Just Look At That View
The graphics are on par with the first game except the characters. There are four presets to choose from when picking your Agent. The four faces lack detail and the first one’s face almost looks pink. Giving this choice is pointless, however, due to the fact that after leveling up the Agent once in the area of agility a helmet will be added. Personalization is minimal. Even the colors for the suit are lacking. There are only four options: dark blue, dark grey, mid grey and light grey. Unless you preordered the game these are the only colors you will have available to you. I understand that people wanted to customize their Agent themselves, but this barely feels like much to work with. I would have rather stayed with the different types of Agents that evolved into hulking beasts while their characteristics came out full force by the time five star levels were reached. The Russian went from a basic looking man to a towering monstrosity with an epic beard. It was about going from man to supercop. Now it feels like going from supercop to robocop. Either more customization needs to be added to the game via DLC or they need to revert back to their previous Agent formula.
Although Crackdown 2 does not improve in every area it is more addicting than ever. The gameplay and abilities have been given a boost making a great formula even greater. The ability to have four players access the full campaign sets the standard for sandbox games. The PvP mode is also commendable boasting sixteen superhuman Agents roaming the city. Even though the story, customization and annoyance of the narrator hinder gameplay it is trivial when compared to everything the game does right. Ruffian Games has taken the series to the next level and it is sure to please fans of the first game while bringing in even more followers once it hits store shelves.Crackdown 2 Review,