Crackdown 2, the sequel to the award-winning sleeper hit of 2007, plays much like its predecessor, almost too much at some points.
Like Crackdown, the sequel places the player in the shoes of a cybernetic super cop, capable of amazing feats of agility, firepower and explosives. If you played the first one, you will be instantly at home here because it is the same city map. The graphics are the same, still stellar, and the cell-shaded action is surprisingly well done.
The story is different this time, but it again centers on the main "agency" for which the player's character works. This time, though, the developers at Ruffian Games decided to remove the various gangs as enemies from the first game and replace them with dull rinse-and-repeat missions.
After a few hours of play, it becomes painfully obvious that this is Crackdown 1.5 or maybe not even that. It could even be considered an expansion pack to the first game. It is unbelievable that this game took a studio of developers three years to complete. I can only imagine that if Ruffian works at this pace, the developers must have started developing the original Crackdown in 1998.
The game is still addictive and fun for a few hours, and will no doubt grip players as they hunt the never-ending supply of agility-boosting orbs scattered throughout the city. It's fun to set up amazing explosions and watch as the environment is torn to shreds. It's fun to level up your character and leap tall buildings with a single bound, which is probably the most fun part, and it's fun to invade enemy compounds.
Unfortunately, all those elements were in the first game and are reproduced here verbatim. On top of this, the developers removed other aspects of the first game that made it better, such as major objectives. In the first game, players were tasked with taking down rival gang factions, each with their own styles, weapons, vehicles, environments and more. That kept the game going at a good pace and provided new elements. In Crackdown 2, this is non-existent.
The major story-based missions fall into two categories: Detonate underground bombs surrounded by endless zombies or take over enemy strongholds. Rinse and repeat, the end. There are secondary missions, but they're not even worth mentioning.
To add to this, Ruffian has left the city-traversing gameplay the same. The first game was new and amazing because it offered the outstanding ability to navigate a city by jumping and climbing. Since then, many games, including inFAMOUS, have eclipsed that, and it easily shows in Crackdown 2. Traversing the city feels clunky at times, and I don't know why the developers didn't attempt to tweak this core gameplay element.
If you were a die-hard fan of the first, you will find some fun here, but I would recommend a rental because the fun won't last long enough to warrant a purchase. If you never played the original, skip this game and go play the first one.