Crackdown 2 Hands On Preview - The First Few Hours
Written Wednesday, May 26, 2010 By Dan WebbView author's profile
Sleeper hit. Unsung Hero. Dark horse. Those are a few descriptive analogies that could be used to describe the original Crackdown title and all aren’t far off the mark. A unique hand-crafted experience that definitely came as a shock to most people. Myself included. With the development changing from Realtime Worlds to Ruffian Games, it’s a move that definitely only exists in studio names, as a large proportion of the development team has switched homes so that they could continue work on the cel-shaded franchise. Unfortunately, if our hands on time with Crackdown 2 is anything to go by, not enough has changed over the years and the improved mission structure is nothing but a carefully woven PR line.
That’s not to say Crackdown 2 is a terrible game. No, that couldn’t be farther from the truth, in fact, it is a definite improvement over its predecessor, but it feels largely similar and I’d probably go as far as to say that the mission structure is more repetitive now than it was in the first. If you’re looking to play Crackdown 2 this coming July, you most definitely won’t want to pick it up for its mission structure... well, that’s if the first two or three hours are indicative of the rest of the game.
The mission structure seems to have evolved from one that had a lack of purpose and drive, to one that is incredibly repetitive and acts as more of a distraction than anything else. “Project Sunburst” is what Ruffian are calling it, but if the first few hours are anything to go by, “fun-burst” is probably more appropriate, as you’re tasked with turning on 3 absorption units, to then activate a beacon, only to rinse and repeat until the end of time. Obviously, I can’t speak for the whole of the game just yet, but first impressions aren’t good.
It doesn’t help that it’s set in the same city either. Everything feels unbelievably similar, from going out to the refinery at the south-east of the map to do a “mission,” to attempting to cross into the north island of the map via the huge sewage pipes and falling off, leaving yourself with a mammoth task to get to where you were previously heading. It all feels a little too familiar, and not in a good way.
Those looking for another boost of Crackdown are sure going to love it though, if only for the 4 player co-op and the newly added “mutant” fodder that descend upon the streets at night. Those are real changes in the sequel and whilst there is also the addition of some competitive multiplayer, it honestly doesn’t have the same pull as the full-on co-op experience.
While cruising the streets of Pacific City and knee deep in mutant remains – the game copes surprisingly well with amount of on-screen enemies at once – we did get the chance to sample the new “Renegade Orbs” as well; mostly in the form of the agility and the racing orbs. Interestingly enough, the agility renegade orbs actually force you to follow them on a route that takes you in the region of the standard agility orbs, so they are perfect to chase if you need an agility orb or two to level up your character’s agility. And chances are, sometimes you’ll come across a few that you just won’t have the skills to catch up with, so it’s also a method that gets you well on the right road to success. There are even “Online Orbs” this time around as well, that require you to be playing online with a partner and some carefully hidden audio logs. It’s most definitely a collector’s paradise.
Standing head and shoulders above all the other newly added features – or tweaks as I call them – is definitely the four player co-op. Taking advantage of the host’s game world, you can now invite 3 other friends into your game and take advantage of some outrageous open-world fun. There is something mildly amusing, and admittedly quite sadistic, about using the UV Shotgun to fling your co-op teammate into the nearest stretch of water. Or in flinging their car off a cliff while you stare at the wreckage that you’ve just created, and because there is no punishment for death, you don’t feel one bit guilty in doing it.
Other than the 4 player co-op and the street-fodder to have fun with, it’s clear that Ruffian have put added emphasis on the gadgets of the world – the toys so to speak. Before our hands on we managed to catch a glimpse of the Flocket Launcher which shoots a flock of rockets, the Mag Grenades which allow you to string to items together with a giant elastic bungee, and the aforementioned UV Shotgun which can knock opponents flying or dissolve the mutants of Pacific City in an instant. Unfortunately, along with the helicopter and the tank – which has an avatar award tied to it for something we weren’t quick enough to catch – they require a lot of experience and such to unlock.
Our first hands on with Crackdown 2 was definitely an experience that triggered emotions from differing ends of the scale. Yes, the title is undoubtedly Crackdown, but with more substance in terms of toys to play with, but the mission structure was a disappointing step backwards. If you and 3 friends are just looking for a playground with no limits this coming July, then this is surely the title. If you’re looking to collect the heck out of a huge world with an impressive draw-distance, then again, this is may be the title for you. However, if you’re looking for an engaging story and some interesting missions to pile through, prepare to be frustrated with oodles of mundane repetition. Personally, I wanted all three, but two out of three isn’t bad, right?
Crackdown 2 is out July 6th and July 9th in North America and Europe respectively.