Crackdown 2 Multiplayer Impressions: The Orb Has Been Captured, Dropped and Captured Again

BOOM widget 96805 The goal of Rocket Tag, one of the two Crackdown 2 multiplayer modes available to play here at PAX East, is simple. Grab the shiny thing, and hold on to it as long as you can.

Everyone else? You've got a rocket launcher. Kill the guy with the shiny thing. He's hard to miss. He's the one with the shiny glowing thing.

The result, as you'd expect, is pure explosive chaos. Even with only eight players in the match--half of the game's maximum--there were rockets everywhere. Getting close to the shiny was nearly as dangerous as holding the shiny itself.

You have to understand. Everyone is going after this one dude. Everyone can see where he is. Everyone wants to kill him and take the shiny for themselves, and hold on to it for as long as they can--roughly twenty or thirty seconds, in my experience.

The short-lived nature of shiny ownership also means the announcer is constantly updating players as to its status--the orb has been dropped, someone's captured the orb--to the point where, after maybe ten minutes, I'd heard enough about that stupid shiny orb. There's a reason I'm not using "orb" all that much in this writeup. BOOM video 4516 /em>

The trick with holding the shiny, it seems, is to make your way up to the skyline and starting hopping from building to building. That's where a working knowledge of your surroundings comes into play, provided you survive long enough. Sadly, it didn't help me all that much--sure, I recognized the neighborhood thanks to my time with the original Crackdown, but I never survived long enough to put that knowledge to use.

The other mode on display, Team Deathmatch, played out as one might expect. Various weapons and vehicles were scattered throughout a multi-tiered shipping yard, with two teams of super-powered agents doing their best to eliminate each other.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to spend much time with the various weapons and vehicles, as, well, I kept dying. Instead, I spent most of my time exploring, learning where the weapons and vehicles were, and getting the hang of hunting opponents that could go from the ground floor to the tops of the sky-high girders in just a few leaps.

What I played of Crackdown 2 was undoubtedly fun, but I have to wonder how long the novelty will last before the multiplayer--at least the modes I saw today--start to wear thin.

Developer Ruffian and publisher Microsoft aren't saying much else about the rest of the game quite yet, but I'm not too concerned. By all accounts, Ruffian is building upon the framework of the first game, and so long as the basics remain intact (and it certainly appears they have) fans of the original shouldn't be disappointed.

But don't just take my word for it. You'll soon have a chance to check out Crackdown 2 yourself, as a downloadable demo of the Xbox 360 exclusive is due on Xbox Live before the game hits store shelves. Exactly what that demo will contain and exactly when it'll arrive have yet to be confirmed, but rest assured, it's coming before July 6.