Crackdown 2 Review

Written by Joe Martin

July 5, 2010 | 13:57

Tags: #crackdown #third-person-shooter

Companies: #microsoft #realtime-worlds

Crackdown 2 Conclusion

Crackdown 2 is clearly a game that’s supposed to be about player-set obstacles and achievement whoring. The script even makes direct mention to game achievements on occasion and much of the game design is about encouraging players to explore the world in pursuit of coloured orbs that upgrade your core abilities.

Unfortunately though, the idea of exploring Pacific City just isn’t a very appealing one. The world is dull and boxy, and it’s also overcrowded with collectibles. The green orbs which upgrade your Agility skill, enabling you to jump higher and move faster, are so numerous that it’s nauseating to consider they were all placed by hand. There are too many to even contemplate getting them all, especially since they yield such minimal reward.

Even worse are the ‘renegade orbs’, which move away when you come close and need to be chased. While these yield a much greater boost to your skills there’s often a prerequisite to capturing them – you’ll need to be of a certain level or have a specific car to stand a chance. It’s been nearly 50 years since the first computer game was created – aren’t we supposed to have moved past collecting shiny dots in a certain order?

Crackdown 2 Review Crackdown 2 Conclusion
One down, 499 to go!

With exploration ruled out, the focus falls to the story and side missions. Unfortunately, these too become a repetitive grind. Go here and stand on a box to turn a power station on, repeat that twice more and then defend this UV generator from attack – that’s what you spend most of Crackdown 2 being told to do. There are races, both vehicular and on foot, as side missions but the greyness of the city means the courses are never very exciting.

Even clearing out enemy bases is fairly uninspiring work and, while do things get better once you unlock bigger vehicles and weapons, it’s mostly not worth persevering to that level. If we wanted to grind for five hours to get a gun that’s fun for five minutes, we’d play an MMO instead.

There are a few highlights, but frankly Ruffian hasn’t mustered anything unique or truly fun. Crackdown 2 has a full day/night cycle and when the moon rises mutants fill the streets en masse. Ploughing through the hundreds-strong horde with a heavy car is enjoyable despite the occasional dip in framerate and concussive weapons like the UV shotgun spice things up, but it’s too little and far too shallow. The actual mechanics of the combat are oversimplified too, so fighting runs flat faster than a Pepsi in an earthquake.

Crackdown 2 Review Crackdown 2 Conclusion
Game over, little guy

Ruffian’s supposed ace in the hole is supposed to be four player campaign co-op, which lets four agents play in the same city at once. Each player is a free agent, able to wander off on their own or stay with the group for a common goal. It’s nice to have that level of freedom, but it does mean that you’re definitely best off playing with people you actually know. Strangers will inevitably ruin your plans, or disappear into the distance.

Crackdown 2 Review Crackdown 2 ConclusionEven with friends in tow though, Crackdown 2’s co-op isn’t anything to get truly excited over because, if nothing else, the underlying game is still shamefully lacking in innovation. Crackdown 2 is immediately enhanced by the fact that you can run around shooting things with your friends, but it’s like putting butter on week-old toast. Sure, toast is better with butter on it… but the bread is still green and furry.

Through our weariness and disdain though, we do have to admit that Crackdown 2 works in a purely functional sense. It isn’t broken. It’s as repetitive as a Groundhog Day marathon and it’s as boring as dry prorridge…but it works and it’s playable. Those with low expectations might even like it, provided they can pick it up cheaply, but most gamers should find something else to play instead.

Disappointing, we know, but we did tell you to just skip to the score anyway, remember?

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