Taking place ten years after the original, Crackdown 2 puts players back in the boots of an Agency clone with super-powers tasked with cleaning up the war-torn streets of Pacific City. Agents will have to contend with The Cell, a guerrilla faction in the city, and a new mutated adversary with an aversion to light, lovingly dubbed "Freaks." Though development duties moved over to Ruffian Games this time around, their effort shares many of the highs and most of the lows of the original developed by Realtime Worlds.
Story takes second billing in Crackdown 2, as the game focuses on collecting orbs that power-up your agent and putting those powers to use ranging around the city. In this sense, Crackdown 2 succeeds where a game like Just Cause 2 failed. Players are free to complete the storyline at any time without having to unlock future missions. It's all here for you to consider from the beginning but it's clear that Ruffian feels the "story" is an added bonus. One without much value, though; it's largely forgettable.
Co-operative play works well but can lead to bad situations as the game only tracks mission progression for the host. Competitive play also exists but won't tear you away from your current favorite whether it's Modern Warfare 2, Halo 3, or something else.
The original Crackdown came as something of an innovation for open-world games. Its combination of super-human powers and modern crime fighting wrote a new, grittier superhero story. The opposite holds true today. While it might seem odd to lambaste Crackdown 2 for doing little to change the formula it helped establish, the presence of titles like Infamous and Prototype in recent years only serve to remind us how little Ruffian has toyed with the core of the game.
The only real refinements in Crackdown 2 are tied to the "love it or hate it" orb collection, of which there are 925 in total. This includes the new "Renegade" orbs that run away from Agents, but are easy enough to track thanks to an Infamous-inspired sonar locator in the game's mini-map. Progression still exists much like it did in the original title, although vehicles now unlock as levels are gained rather than agents being able to transform any vehicle to their will. I barely noticed this change, though, as vehicles rarely amounted to much during my time with the game.
Target locking is still a mess, often focusing the crosshairs on objects rather than the enemy lunging or firing at you mere feet away. Personally, I found the issue subsided the further along I got in the game as I increasingly focused my attention on explosive weaponry.
Complaints aside, Crackdown 2 can be a lot of fun. Players with a proclivity toward item collection will adore the additions to the game; however, gamers looking for the franchise to re-establish itself as the premiere chaos-fueled sandbox title will be left wanting more.
Editor's note: This review is based on the Xbox 360 retail version of Crackdown 2 provided by Microsoft.
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