“XBOX NEEDS EXCLUSIVES!”. Sound familiar? It’s something that has been ringing in my ears since becoming an Xbox gamer nearly 20 years ago. It’s possibly the longest standing and harshest criticism levelled against Microsoft’s console family, and I can’t say I wholly disagree.
However, there are some out there which can slip through the net every now and then. But bucking the trend was the original Crackdown, which was not one of them. It shifted a very healthy amount of units as well as drawing in universal praise from critics. A sequel then, would be a no-brainer.
Three years and a few months later, Crackdown 2 was released. Dropping into the barren summer release window, it provided something for Xbox gamers to look forward to. The game is set ten years after the events of the first outing, and once again you return to Pacific City, this time to do battle with “the cell” which is led by an agency member gone rogue. This is renegade scientist, Catalina, who released the “freak” virus which unleashed all sorts of problems onto the city, as it’s residents were turned into nightmarish, rabid, zombie-like creatures. However, it turns out things may not be quite as straightforward as they seem.
For those that are unfamiliar, Crackdown 2 is an open world adventure game which saw you playing as a member of the agency, simply called the “agent”. Generic name maybe, but there is nothing else normal about you, as your range of abilities demonstrate. These included pretty broad areas such as “strength”, which when upgraded led to all sorts of weird and wonderful skills. Ultimately they made it easier to navigate the environments and take out your enemies. You could also hop into a wide range of vehicles and mow down your enemies, as well as use them to compete in checkpoint races.
In terms of combat, you have melee and ranged options, the latter being the most entertaining. You can use all sorts of weapons, from machine guns to grenade launchers, as well as a special UV gun for taking down the pesky “freaks”. In terms of melee, once you develop your abilities all sorts of moves will unlock, such as the “ground slam”.
I remember the open world online co-op play being a real feature for the first Crackdown, and it returned in the sequel. When the original game released in 2007, there wasn’t an experience on console quite like it, online co-op at that time being more typical of PC games. Still, Crackdown 2 featured online co-op for up to four players, as well as competitive modes such as “Deathmatch”, and “Capture the Orb”. It was good fun, but not as impressive the second time round as other games had caught up.
It’s this that brings me to the main issue critics had with Crackdown 2, which was the lack of progress from the first game. It was a case of “more of the same”, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but after the excellent first outing people were left slightly underwhelmed. Myself included.
Unfortunately, it then went from bad to worse. In 2019, after a nine year wait and some serious hype (thanks somewhat to Terry Crews), Crackdown 3 arrived. In what seemed to be the death knell for the series, the game struggled to come up with any new ideas, instead relying on the original formula far too heavily. Games have come an awfully long way in the last decade, and it seemed the Crackdown series had been left far behind.
Crackdown 2 is by no means a bad game, it’s actually a lot of fun. If you liked the original you’ll no doubt enjoy it, even if it does only offer a very similar experience. However, if you haven’t played the first one, this is just as good a place to start. So I guess what I’m saying is, forget the critics and go and play it for yourself because chances are you’ll have a blast. You can grab a download from the Xbox Store if you so wish.