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Crackdown 2's wonderfully distracting world offers a rich place to play and hunt. Although, in the absence of split-screen multiplayer, we were restricted to turn-taking the playground spirit kept us going long into the night.
The original Crackdown was initially memorable because of the beta access it gave to Halo 3. However, it went on to be very well received with its most absorbing part being the collection of the 500 agility orbs scattered around Pacific City. Obsessive gamers spent hours and hours searching for and then trying to reach the little green globes, with many tucked away hidden from sight.
Crackdown 2 has the same setting - Pacific City. But now, it's considerably worse for wear, with two factions doing their best to turn it into rubble. Cell, a bunch of so-called terrorists have stolen the Agency's absorption units. These units are the key to getting rid of the city's night-time Freaks - human mutants. Why Cell have taken these units I'm not really sure, but it's fun rather than story that is most important here.
Game play revolves around three elements - clean out strongholds, recover absorption units, and then use them to clean out lairs. Sealing the last of the lairs is the key to completing the game. While you pursuit these quests you'll be picking up Agility orbs as you go. In turn these gradually increase your agility and give you access to higher buildings, and consequently more orbs. There are also Renegade orbs, which shoot away from you as you approach, as well as various audio logs to collect.
This collection mechanic is where Crackdown 2 pulled me and my boys back into its world. It's an acquired taste, but if you have even a slightly addictive personality you will love the sense of order that comes from acquiring each orb and the access they grant to the furthest reaches of the city.
This collection is where Crackdown 2 pulled me and my boys back into its world.
As well as this there are a hundred other distractions. Although I didn't play the first game a lot, I can tell that the sequel has cottoned onto the fact that the world itself in Crackdown was half the attraction.
Last night for instance, I was still playing long after I should have gone to bed, and what was I doing? I was standing on a wall trying to shoot the tyres out of civilian cars as they went by. I just got distracted by the passing vehicles and sort of made my own game up.
Detracting from the game play was the ever present voice of your commander. It's well done and matches the game's frenetic craziness, but being told the same thing over and over soon started to grate. I ended up voicing my own replies - much to the amusement of my two sons. "Yes, I know I'm supposed to be taking control of this area, but if I don't hide round this corner for a bit I'm going to die." "I know I can't catch those purple orbs on foot, I was just walking past it." My son was actually driven to mute it, I countered with "well maybe he'll say something useful", we looked at other - "maybe not".
Crackdown 2 is certainly not shy on the gore front, it's more or less impossible to go far without splattering a pedestrian; and at night your screen turns green with exploding Freaks bouncing off the bonnet. But it's all pretty comical and nothing the average teen hasn't seen and done in games for years. And with the troubles that Pacific City citizens have to deal with you can maybe excuse the occasional profanity you hear in the distance, as someone objects to the fact that they've been shot in the leg again.
I just got distracted by the passing vehicles and sort of made my own game up.
I planned to play Crackdown 2 split-screen with my son, but this is another game where co-op is online only, and although this has been enhanced so that up to four agents can cruise the city looking for fun, we were disappointed. This is a shame as played with other people really adds the missing spark of life - with a bunch of friends juggling cars, gluing things together with magnetic mines and generally blowing the hell out of everything in sight.
Crackdown 2 surprised me with a world that simply asked to be played in. I often had as much fun taking turns messing around in the space with my sons as I did completing the missions. Above any of that though, the race in our house to get all those orbs is what has dominated the morning afters' breakfast conversation.
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