Crackdown was possibly one of my favourite 360-exclusives. It has a sense of fun and manic, chaotic joy that nothing else matches. It wasn’t the prettiest girl at the party but it had a great personality and looks only last so long. Personality is what long-term relationships are built on. So I was keen to see the new and improved version in the flesh. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find time to sit through the full demonstration given by the guys at Ruffian so my impressions are based on three or four periods of watching the demo between other shows.
The first thing to note is that the art style is slightly changed. The simplified, almost cell-shaded look of the original has been replaced with a kind of graphic novel look. Still cartoon-like and simple but a little bit darker and grittier. The agents had body-suits that shine with a metallic glint.
Happily, the madness is still very much present. The city is recognisable but also degenerated with the hordes of mutants and the civilian “Cell” who are revolting against the authority of The Agency having pulled the city apart. Your task is to quell the uprising, remove the mutants (created by an Agency experiment) and retrieve the weapon-parts stolen by The Cell to ultimately build a weapon capable of cleaning up the streets – wholesale.
The same orbs and levelling mechanics seem to be present with a new suit capable of allowing gliding and basic flight control during freefall. With that suit and the pleasure it brings Ruffian have been thoughtful enough to add some more – and taller – skyscrapers for you to leap off. That’s not all though, reach level five agility and you will be able to fly an Agency helicopter which can then be used as a base for skydiving.
With apparently seamless drop-in co-op up to four players there will be plenty of opportunities to team up with other agents on your missions. There were a couple of instances of slow-down during the more hectic scenarios but the build was pulled straight out of development with not demo-preparation so that is completely forgivable and I completely expect that to be smoothed out in time for retail.
Overall impressions of Crackdown 2 are that it will be even more fun than the first. The small touches to the weaponry and mechanics in the game seem like they will add a lot of enjoyment to what was already one of the most enjoyable game-play experiences available. Hopefully the storyline will be more evenly paced and rounded than the original because that really is the only small criticism I could make. Simply put, there is nothing out there that plays like Crackdown and if the sequel builds on that then it will be genuinely unmissable.