The first Crackdown was a breath of fresh air on the Xbox 360, never taking itself too seriously and throwing open-world sandbox conventions out of the window; its bright, breezy attitude and superhero style leveling was innovative for the genre and was a blast to play through even though I still maintain it was at least partly responsible for the breakdown of my first console. Still, whilst a sequel was always on the cards, when I got the final disk through over the weekend I realised I’d had almost a complete blackout on information, and going into a AAA title blank is something I very rarely get to do.
However, despite my ignorance, once I’d installed the game to the hard drive I slotted right in – this is, in every sense of the phrase, a direct sequel to the first game. It controls the same (I really dislike the acceleration based aiming) and looks similar enough, albeit with the cel-shading amped up a notch or two. Furthermore, it feels the same, and from the few hours spent with it so far it’s structured the same too, with the familiar area capture missions playing out in roughly the same manner – after the first game and the likes of inFamous the formula’s a little tired, but it’s precisely what you’d expect. Crackdown 2, then, is looking like being exactly that.
So what’s new? Well, there’s a dramatic (and rather cool) boost to the online co-op mode that made Crackdown so much fun – you can now team up with three other players in a 4 player squad over Xbox Live. Indeed, the game actively encourages this, because in addition to 500 more agility orbs the game also has Xbox Live Orbs that can only be picked up in multiplayer. In addition, there’s now competitive play for 16 players, bringing huge amounts of additional value for those that like to battle their mates as well as team up with them, although we (obviously) couldn’t accurately test this feature for this First Level article.
Story wise, well, there’s an additional twist in that you’re now up against two sets of enemies, a splinter faction from The Agency known (amusingly) as Cell, but there’s also the virus-riddled Freaks to contend with too adding a cute little diversion to the game. I won’t spoil the story here (not least because it was only just getting going) but it appears there’s going to be some nice twists down the line for those that want to get wrapped up in the plot. The strengths of the game aren’t in exposition, though, Crackdown has always been about powering up your character and the five different sets of stats (agility, firearms, driving, explosives and strength) will provide plenty of life.
We’ll have the review up before the game’s launch on Friday.