Crackdown 2 preview
At first glance, Crackdown 2 was more of the same: the same mechanics, same weapons, same missions ... But then the sun began to set and strange creatures started filling the streets. Set in the same city as its predecessor, the streets are home to freaks – or as I call them, putrid looking, acid-for-blood zombies. These freaks flock to the characters like hot girls to Axe Body Spray. Fighting them off is always a losing battle, but hopping into a car and running through them at full speed is exhilarating.
Yet again, we will probably spend more time hunting orbs (stat boosts) than we will on the actual game, but that’s OK because every orb is like an achievement in itself. This time, Crackdown 2 takes the aspect a tad further and now orbs may actually run from the player. It’s quite a pain in the ass, actually -- I like my orbs submissive and rather stationary, but when an orb starts becoming self-aware and takes off at the sight of the player, it's hard not to give pursuit. There were only two types of moving orbs in the game from what I saw so far: agility orbs and racing orbs, which a car is needed to obtain.
Things aren’t all sugary and sweet though; extreme disappointment set in with the character selections. Only given four choices of generic-looking male models, it was an immediate turnoff by the lack of playable females. That’s not even the end of it – there was no attention spent on the detail of their faces. With no personality, this harkens back to the day of the original Xbox.
Repetition set in after several of the story missions. “Go here, shoot those guys, take over the base. Good! Now do it again but over there.” I am glad that the developer, Ruffian Games, recognized what we loved about the first Crackdown, but it didn’t feel like they tried that hard to improve upon it. Granted, only two hours of the campaign mode were completed during the session, but hopefully there’ll be new and exciting missions that are dynamically different than the original.
Even though up to three friends would pop in and out of the game, co-op didn’t present itself as what gamers have come to expect from their cooperative modes. There was nothing provided that tried to keep players functioning as a unit or encouraged the newcomers to participate in the missions. Most of the time, everyone ran around on opposite ends of the map, completely doing their own thing. The freedom of the co-op and not feeling tethered to the other players was pleasing. Even though the co-op system in Crackdown 2 is basically identical to the original, it would be best if developers to took it to the next level of player-to-player interaction by adding missions or challenges that we could only complete as a team.
As for the multiplayer modes, those gathered were only able to play two modes: a deathmatch mode and Rocket Tag (think Oddball from Halo, where everyone's trying to hold on to the one objective the longest). The deathmatch mode was standard free-for-all, but the map was way too big for eight players. Most of the time was spent looking for other players to kill or being killed repeatedly by the one jackass who found a helicopter, which pretty much made him untouchable. Rocket Tag was a favorite, not because I came in second (the guy who came in first was one of the Crackdown 2 developers, by the way) but because I loved being handed a rocket launcher just to jump around like an idiot while I try to blow up the one guy with the coveted orb.
It has to be said though; in some departments, it felt like no improvement was made (gameplay, co-op design) or as if the game took a step back rather than forward ( character design). That being said, I have no interest in playing the game’s single-player, and even though there wasn’t much keeping co-op players together, I still look forward to blowing things up with my friends over Xbox Live. I think Crackdown fans will be entertained, but they may not be receiving the sequel that they are probably hoping for.