‘Crackdown 2′ Demo Impressions

Published 4 years ago by

crackdown 2 demo

With just over a week to go before the Crackdown 2 launch, I decided to jump on XBox Live and sample the 30 minute demo for myself. Being the ridiculously devout Crackdown apologist that I am, I figured if anyone was equipped with the mindset to cast a critical eye over Crackdown 2 and compare it with its predecessor, it was me.

The demo drops you right into the action, amidst an in-progress raid on a hideout of a gang named ‘The Cell’ at the ship yards.  The area is a maze of shipping crates, boats and cranes, and houses both Cell members and a huge helping of Agility Orbs – yes, the ‘Crack’ of Crackdown is back.

Immediately getting into the swing of things, I began dropping perps with guns and grenades, as well as exploding barrels that littered the entrance to the docks. Moving through the fray as I cleaned shop, I ignored several drivable vehicles in favor of my own locomotion. Driving was never the draw for me in Crackdown, and spring-loaded feet were always my preferred method of travel.

Combat felt nice, but a little crude and unrefined.  It was familiar enough, taking about three minutes to get my finger-memory back, hammering the left bumper to reload and the right one to hurl a grenade.  Before long I had totally recaptured my staple Crackdown combat mechanics – flourishes of airborne gunfire, interspersed with ground-based melee attacks – and I implemented them with flair.

Giant Mutant Stand-off

Once this initial area was somewhat free of bad guys, the overly-chatty Voice of the Agency instructed me to stand in the nearby Tactical Insertion Point (indicated by a red graphic painted on the ground) and call reinforcements.  Standing in this area and pressing the Back button calls in an Agency helicopter. The inbound helicopter, causes more bad guys spawns spawns that must be managed in order to secure the area for the chopper to arrive.

Once the entrance was secured I moved further into the labyrinth of shipping crates and gunfire to find my next objective – reclaiming an experimental Agency beacon that has been commandeered by Cell members.  At this point I pretty much abandoned the main quest to instead feed my filthy, disgusting Agility Orb habit for the remainder of the demo time.

Crackdown 2 Orbs

The controls remain largely unchanged, at least in terms of button geography.  The stick sensitivity could not be customized in the menus – which, frankly, was disappointing.  I found turning to be an awkward affair and much less tight than in the first game.

In another surprise move, the mechanics of the snap-targeting lock-on have been messed with, to the game’s detriment.  Let me explain:  I’m an inverted Y-axis guy.  Yes, I’m one of those.  This isn’t a problem in most games, nor was it a problem in the original Crackdown.  The snap-targeting works like this:  You squeeze the left trigger while your target reticule is reasonably close to a bad guy and it will snap to him, locking you on.  At the same time, a HUD pop-up appears next to your target.  It is essentially a rude 2D icon version of your target, broken up into key sections, like limbs, head, body, etc.

Once you are locked in with the left trigger squeezed, you can then use your right stick to target one of these body sections in the pop-up and fire at that appendage.  This mechanic is still in the game, which I’m thankful for since it was my favorite part of the combat loop in Crackdown, but where in the original game I would push the right stick up to highlight the guy’s head, it now aims for his legs.  If I nudge the stick down, it will highlight his head.  In other words, the inverted Y controls now extend to the target lock-on, too.  I know I speak for all my fellow Y-axis guys when I say that this is a terrible design choice.  Choosing the Y-axis is a camera-relative preference.  It does not mean we all think up is down and down is up.  Good grief.

Brooding Agent

The graphics haven’t received any perceivable improvements in quality, which is something of a disappointment.  In fact, I would go as far as to say the graphics in Crackdown 2 are worse.  Granted, the visual stylings of the first game informed those of the sequel, but although I feel Ruffian were on the right track in this regard, the game could have benefited from a face-lift – this being 2010 and all.  Improved texture quality and better post-rendering effects really would have improved the game’s appeal to both Crackdown die-hards like me and newcomers alike.

The original Crackdown, for all its comic book aesthetics, was a pleasant visual experience.  The fact that most objects in the world were outlined in a thick black line didn’t detract from the overall lightheartedness of the visuals, and that had an awful lot to do with the color palette and the lighting.  No area of the city was ever too depressing or looked ugly.  This go around, however, there seems to be a more drastic tone to the overall aesthetic, and I think it hurts the game.  For some reason there is a heavy reliance on primary colors, giving the game a less impressive sheen than in the first game.  This, mixed with the severe (and unchangeable) contrast and brightness levels make Crackdown 2 a very unpleasant game to look at.  It’s hard to believe the game made its way through alpha and beta to a release candidate looking like this.

Crackdown 2 graphics

Ultimately, the vertical slice of gameplay provided in the demo hits the right notes in every discipline except aesthetics.  Very little has been changed since the original Crackdown, and that fact alone could be a sticking point for some potential buyers. The addition of mutant hordes appearing in vast quantities during the night time cycle is a great new inclusion.  It splits the core gameplay element into two extreme play styles, offering you a different way to play between day and night missions, and switching up your short-term game loops while doing it.  That said, I found the character’s promised savagery a little underwhelming when I discovered that the key to survival was to stab the B button repeatedly, delivering a never-ending flurry of round-house kicks, until daybreak.

The weapons featured were few and unvaried, and the vehicles were completely uninteresting.  Of course, many of these complaints are unjust simply because the universal leveling-up of your skills throughout the full game gives all of your in-game activities and tools more impact, and are therefore more fun to use.

Crackdown 2 Demo Impressions

Whether or not Crackdown 2 launches to critical acclaim and great reviews will be dependent on how the second half of the game plays out.  Once your Agent’s abilities reach that 50% marker, your skills and much of the game world will no doubt open up and herald a richer experience than the first half.  With your Agent’s powers nearing max, will the draw to master Crackdown 2′s world be greater than its predecessor’s?  Time will tell.

For me, I will be buying Crackdown 2 on launch day regardless.  The initial slights I mentioned are insignificant compared with the powerful allure of more Agility Orbs.

But enough about me.  What did you think of the demo?  Was it all you hoped it would be, or were you a little deflated by the experience?

In either case, be sure to check back here at Game Rant for more news, as well as our review (once the game ships) exclusively for the Xbox 360 on July 6th.

TAGS: Crackdown 2, Microsoft, Microsoft Game Studios, Ruffian Games

8 Comments

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  1. hated the original, it looked really bad, not to mention the physics etc where terrible (your character could jump at least 10 meters in the air whilst swimming wtf ?)

    not only that but everything else seemed gta like, only futuristic but non the less it was just as repetitive and annoying.

    at times like this i wonder how games like this even leave the brainstorming table ;)

  2. Crackdown’s appeal wasthat it was the very definition of ‘sandbox’. It laid the whole world out for you to explore from the get go, and deposited gang fortresses in various places as a means to guide your wandering, if you so wished. The draw was in how you chose to play the game. If you were looking for a game that would lead you by the hand from objective to objective, I’m not surprised you didn’t like it. That’s not a dig at you, the game was very polarizing. People pretty much hated it or loved it unconditionally. Don’t slam it because you didn’t appreciate what was going on, though. Just acknowledge that what it did was not what you wanted and move on. There are plenty of more-narrative experiences out there if that’s the kind of experience you prefer.

  3. I have really low expectations for Crackdown 2, but coop sounds incredible. Just being able to throw cars, race across building tops, all that stuff, too much fun to pass up.

  4. Inverted Y-axis is for flying games, and that’s it.

    • No it isn’t.

  5. I thought the first game was terrific in fact i still play it when i get the chance. I liked the idea of picking up a car useing lock on and slamin a car into the head of an unsuspecting enemy surrounded by explosives. and now that i don’t like that idea anymore they’ve brought in glideing and helicopters and renegade orbs that run from u. and for all the crackdown haters out there. thats not the only thing that runs away from u! (thats what she said!!!) {ZING!}
    anyway now u can use lightposts as baseball bats i love that in the demo.
    PLUS KEYS TO THE CITY EVERYONE COME ONE IT WILL BE AWESOME!!!
    i think ruffian should throw into keys to the city infinate flight for wing suit( without having to dolphin dive{thing you do in water when your underneath it[spellings horrible]}

    ALL IN ALL? @#$#@$ AWESOME!

  6. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed crackdown. The xbox 360 was relatively new system at the time Crackdown was released, if you consider how long the lifespan is already. I remember being in class in high school(I’m 22 now), waiting to return to pacific city and find that last four bubble agility orb I missed. Not to mention the hours spent leaping across rooftops only to jump 30 feet up and across an otherwise impossible gap to cross. The game was simply down right fun to play. I do not believe this was my young age, as I recently picked up crackdown for 12.99 used as one last hooray before It’s next iteration. I enjoy it as much as when I first jumped out of the agency hideout in my agency supercar. I understand everyones gripes with the graphics, but I can attest the game hasn’t lost it’s classic crackdown feel from a little dulling in the color department. I think it looks better and the day night cycle is a welcome addition. Remember now folks we are talking about an entirely new engine here aside from the color palettes. It can handle an insane amount of chaos and is stated to run silky smooth with thousands of freaks crowding the screen, not to mention with 3 of your buddies. I myself had a blast with the co-op demo and felt like a kid in a candy store only to have my jawbreaker stolen from under my nose seeing the 30 minute time limit. After playing through it multiple times with 3 friends, my excitement was through the roof as I thought of the fun to be had tomorrow(July 6) when I grab my pre-order. Crackdown was a fine helping of fun playing solo, and the 4 player co-op and competitive online modes seem to add an almost infinite amount of ways to enjoy your time with Crackdown 2. Refreshing the series with much welcome improvements, including 4 player co-op and an entirely new game engine, I predict the game to settle somewhere between an 8 and a 9.3. My gamertag is – throwback8 – see you on the field agents.

  7. Hmm.. I’m pretty ticked off from the moving of the teleporter that used to be in booty bay. I’ve been attempting to get in to finish the classic dungeons, but now if I need to enter Gnomeregan I must mad dash through Loch modan and dun morough.

    Anyway, I suppose I should return to my quest. Man, I’m so hooked.

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