PAX East 2010: Crackdown 2 Impressions
I clearly remember a couple of years back when the first Crackdown was introduced to the Xbox 360. I was awed with the cell-shaded appearance that penetrated through the display and, most importantly, the style of gameplay that was introduced to fans of the sandbox genre. There’s no game out there that lets you freely punt, not kick, the crap out of pedestrians and villains, toss all sorts of objects, and leap buildings in the most superhero-like fashion.
The game was amazing and entertaining in every sense of those two words; the only issue I had with it was the fact that the ending pretty much left me hanging, which had me pulling out my hair. I, personally, just clenched my jaw in anger and sighed heavily at the cliffhanger ending. No worries, though. We knew that eventually Microsoft Game Studios and Realtime Worlds would produce a sequel to the first and give us the rightfully deserved continuation we were entitled to. But they didn’t. Instead, taking the helm of development is Ruffian Games (which was formed by former Realtime Worlds video game developers Gaz Liddon and Billy Thompson). And at PAX East 2010, DualShockers got some hands-on time with some Crackdown 2 – a game that so far is living up to its hype.
Off the bat, many things will seem familiar to those who have played the previous Crackdown game. For starters, the graphics haven’t really received too much of a technical upgrade. This isn’t a bad thing, however. One of the prized assets of the first Crackdown was that, graphically, the cell-shaded visuals were refreshing. Although Crackdown 2 hasn’t received a gargantuan graphical overhaul as many might have wanted, the game’s visuals are still easy on the eyes; not easy to the point where the game looks mediocre, but easy to the point where everything on screen looks admirable in contrast to its predecessor. Fluid animations and beautiful popping colors are still some of the migrated ingredients from the first Crackdown. Some of the finer refinements that are quite noticeable when graphically comparing Crackdown 2 to the first are the environment and character model textures, which, from what I saw, were taken up a notch or two.
Aside from minor graphical updates, the one thing that anyone should know about Crackdown 2 is that the game makes some enthralling use of day and night cycles. Throughout the day you’ll be doing your duties of exterminating the threat of a terrorist organization known as “The Cell,” while, like the good super cop you are, still trying to soothe Pacific City from the malicious plebeians that roam streets torn apart from the first Crackdown. For those of you who aren’t aware of what went down in the first Crackdown, what basically happened was that because of your actions of being a ridiculous off-the-wall cop, you destroyed a research facility which unleashed a virus that turned the poor folks of the city into a rampant breed of enemy known as “Freaks.” Well, that’s subtle. In Crackdown 2, your objective is to complete something known as Project Sunburst, which is supposed to abolish the world of this infection. From what I understand, Freaks only come out at night. Once the sun goes down, everything changes. What was once a vacant deserted city becomes a heavily populated world which resembles one of those George A. Romero zombie movies that’s been regurgitated beyond belief.
Now as far as gameplay goes, there hasn’t been too much change in controls which makes the transition from the first game to the second a walk in the park. Of course, I didn’t have too much hands-on time with the story mode to justify whether or not this is indeed the case thoroughly, but playing the multiplayer mode “Rocket Tag” seemed to prove my thoughts true. And yes, Ruffian Games have included some multiplayer game types.
Because Ruffian Games are a bunch of cool bastards, they took a bunch of requests that the Crackdown community had in the first game, and tried their very best to fit it into a bag of multiplayer amazement. Anyone who played the first Crackdown as immensely as I did knows the things we used to do with rocket launchers in multiplayer (blow the hell out of each other). Apparently this game type was one of the many modes that folks were into, and Ruffian Games decided to implement it into the second game.
The multiplayer mode starts off with four players. The purpose is for one player to track down and obtain an orb and hold it until a timer runs out. Seems simple right? Well, the issue with holding this cute little golden orb is that you have to run for your dear life because your fellow Crackdowners are chasing you whilst shooting a barrage of rockets in order to obtain the orb themselves and flee towards victory. At first glance, the thing looks easy. I sat down with Al Zamora, our Senior Editor, put on the Tritton headsets that were there to shield our ears from the disruptive noise of the crowd walking the show floor, and the game started. Long story short, it was fun and I got my ass kicked immensely. For whatever reason – and this is my luck – people were using me as target practice. So throughout the majority of my gaming session, I was getting blown up, my screen filling with spammed fiery explosions, and sounds of muffled laughter as the developers, who sat next to us, witnessed the defilement of my lifeless character getting thrown around like a wet ragdoll. One of the most disappointing things about this game type, though, is the fact that – from what the developer informed me – you’ll be limited to just rocket launchers. Are there any plans to change this in the future? That all depends on what the community wants.
In the process of getting plundered, I managed to get some questions in with the developers and asked how many multiplayer game types would be available for launch. Like the secretive folk that they are, he managed to just tell me that because the game is still in development, the number of game types might change by launch time. Fair enough. One of the most appealing things I heard was the fact that Ruffian Games is taking community support very serious [applause]; they have already shown this by taking community requests from the first game and implementing them in the second. On a consistent basis, the developers will be adding maps, expansions, game types, weapons, etc. through uniform updates/patches as long as the community is there. They’re in no way saying that you’ll get everything you want; but if there are enough Crackdown 2 players requesting something, they might just take it into consideration.
The game, from what I got to play, brought a feeling of nostalgia which had me smiling to myself a couple of times as I remembered what it was that made Crackdown so great – it was pure fun. I got a couple of minutes of play with the game; but from what I played, it is definitely a title that will live up to, and maybe even surpass, the original. A demo will be released shortly before the game’s initial release date for all to try.
Crackdown 2 is scheduled to launch this July 6, 2010 in North America, and July 9, 2010 in Europe.