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CVG
14 Reviews

Crackdown 2

A hard Cell?

Have you played the original Crackdown recently? Whether or not you agree with the bright green score at the top of this page could well depend on your answer to that question.

If you'd like to see more on Crackdown 2 including exclusive movies, info and a chance to win a copy check out our special countdown calendar here

That's because Crackdown 2, for all intents and purposes, is actually Crackdown 1.5.

Pick up the sequel and you'll feel more than a sense of familiarity as you slip back into your compelling super-cop routine, hopping to the top of skyscrapers, lobbing cars at city crooks and watching the progress bar on your super stats top up with every punch, handbrake turn and gigantic explosion.

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Crackdown 2 is absolutely evolution over revolution; the mission structure is wholly the same, the city layout is virtually identical, and thanks to original developer Realtime Worlds spoiling us rotten with post-release add-ons, every move, enemy and tinkered cityscape that IS new wouldn't have felt unrealistic as DLC for the original game.

All this would matter of course, if the original Crackdown wasn't one of the best pure sandbox games we'd ever played - which it is.

With the exception of maybe InFamous and Red Faction Guerrilla, no open-world game has managed to nail the sense of whimsical destruction - or touched the online co-op - as Microsoft's crime stopper. Which is why - with expectations measured - we welcome even an evolutionary update with wide-open, genetically enhanced limbs.

Hello orbs, my old friend
Crackdown 2 is set a decade after the original game and after a short lived period of peace free from crime and gang warfare, Pacific City has descended into anarchy. Familiar streets and landmarks from the original game are now battered and broken as the agency battles a pair of enemy factions; the Cell and the mutated Freaks.

By day, Cell - a collection of radicalised ex-citizens who believe the Agency is hiding the cure for the Freak virus - dominate the Pacific City streets. But as soon as the Sun goes down the zombie-like hordes stumble from their underground homes to fill the streets in their thousands.

Cell has seized control of the generators needed to power Project Sunburst, a sort of UV super weapon built to kill off every Freak in Pacific City. These generators are your main objective, and when you're not messing around chasing pesky Renegade Agility Orbs or hitting henchman with lampposts, you'll run towards waypoints trying to activate them.

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Just like the original Crackdown, from the very beginning of the game none of Pacific City's three districts are locked off, which leaves the potential for mischief and general arsing-about wide open - and you'll inevitably rack up plenty of game hours without going anywhere near your core mission objectives.

It's easy to lose yourself in the relentless firefight to win back Pacific City's streets, the competition of city races and race car stunts, and the pursuit of the ever-so-satisfying 'ping' of a rooftop agility orb.

An hour's session turns into a weekend binge, and then when fellow Xbox Live agents hop into your game for a stint of dual destruction, you'll have the other half moaning for you to switch the Xbox off and go to bloody bed.

At its heart, Crackdown is a simple, impeccably easy game to play, with clear measure for success, constant reward and no story or cut-scenes to distract you from lobbing enemy trucks into the sea (though the plot is a bit more interesting this time around).

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