It's something of a miracle that Crackdown 2 even exists. After being pushed onto the market as a vessel for the Halo 3 online beta, Crackdown was never one of Microsoft's top priorities. Despite its modest scope and so-so sales, the first game managed to attract a large cult following that demanded a sequel. After three long years of waiting, Microsoft has finally decided to give this series one more chance. With all the support behind it and the full backing of Microsoft, what could possibly go wrong?
In the three years since the release of the first game, the Xbox 360 has seen a number of other big name open-world action games. The first Crackdown as released at a time before the likes of Prototype, inFamous, Saints Row 2 and even Grand Theft Auto IV. The game was unabashedly simple, with a limited storyline and only the barest of gameplay modes. Yet it worked because people had so much fun messing around in this giant sandbox.
Crackdown 2 takes this same approach. Ruffian Games (a new development house culled from the ashes of the original Crackdown team) isn't interested in changing the formula. They have set out to recreate the type of game people fell in love with back in 2007. Unfortunately, in doing this they have failed to cash in on all of the potential of the original. Temper your excitement about this long-awaited sequel appropriately, because Ruffian's first game is a massive disappointment.
Crackdown 2 is nothing more than a retelling of the original game. Perhaps it's because they didn't want to stray too far from the formula or didn't know where else to take this series, but this is a game that never manages to create its own voice. Instead we get a bunch of rehashes from the first go-around, like orb hunting, constant level grinding and missions that you are able to play in any order you want. Unfortunately none of these elements are advanced in a way that would make them feel fresh this time around, which is why Crackdown 2 is such a frustrating experience.
The story takes place ten years after the events of the first game. Pacific City has been torn apart by mutated "freaks" and an organization called Cell. You play a super soldier in the same vein as the original's protagonist. But don't let the torn down buildings, constant wreckage and mutant zombie invasion throw you off, this is still the same old city you came to know and love from the first Crackdown.
Although the city is in disrepair, your goals are still largely the same. The goal this time around is to capture a bunch of strategically placed satellite dishes and re-establish a link for your bosses. Once you have reconnected the communications, you are then asked to put your life on the line and install a large beacon in a central location that will effectively destroy any sign of the mutant outbreak.
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