June 24, 2010

Crackdown 2 impressions

Crackdown 2 suffers from something I like to call "next-gen disease." That is 1) it's darker and 2) it has zombies. Because everyone knows if your game isn't dark and zombie-ridden it isn't modern. The city, while the same, is almost unrecognizable at least in the area I played. Everything's decayed and run down, the color pallet is darker and even the Agency agents look like generic armored men. One of my favorite things about the first Crackdown was how your agent would physically evolve when your skills increased. While he certainly gets bigger now, the only other visual effect is more armor. You can choose a specific face for your agent, but you'll never see it, and the armor colors include blue, gray, light gray, and dark gray. Exciting. Even the HUD is transparent black rather than blue. Yes sir, this game certainly has next-gen disease. 

That being said, the game is still a ton of fun. In fact, if you enjoyed the first game like I did then there's a lot to like here. The core skills are the same and work in the same general way, but now the higher your skill level the more equipment and abilities you'll unlock. Max agility means you get a gliding suit, whereas max strength means you get a ground pound area attack. I think they upped the max level for skills as well, meaning that, for instance, you'll be able to jump higher overall than you could in the first game. Oddly, I didn't notice agency cars (which are now unlocked as your driving skill progresses) transform depending on your skill level. Maybe it's the perk when you max it out? On the bright side, your agent will do more than just kick now. There's a few HUD alterations that were odd to me as well. Supply points are no longer marked by glowing orange beams, for instance. Oh, and agility orbs are octagons for some reason. Sure I have my little gripes, but the overall experience is fine. Probably my biggest issue has to do with the pacing which leads me to....


The damn zombies. Why add zombies? Granted, it is impressive when you first see them flood the streets. There are literally hundreds and thousands everywhere. They're called "freaks" and they appropriately come out at night. It's a strange gameplay element that seems out of place to me. They're not even interesting zombies. They're the foot-shuffling kind you find in Dead Rising. They're easy to kill and are no match for a supercop. They only overwhelm in numbers and even then they're not match for a ground pound or even a car. They are, by the way, a great way to increase your driving ability. Now, instead of fighting those three factions of gang members, you take on the Cell and the freaks. By day, you'll fight the Cell and capture key extraction points and these weird laser beam projectors. Every three projectors you take back allows you to venture underground into the freak HQ to plant a giant light orb thing. Once those laser beacons are in place and the orb secure, it'll wipe out the freaks in that area. You'll have to defend the orb from an onslaught of freaks, though. Somehow I find this less interesting than the last game. For one, I'm not a fan of the zombies and I'm also not a fan of the lack of variety in human enemies- from three factions to one. The freaks are so much the focus of this game that there's even specific light-based weapons to combat them (you know, because they're apparently like vampires and fry in the sunlight). 

What I didn't try was playing online. There seems to be a big focus on this and there's even specific orbs you can only gather online. It certainly sounds fun, I must admit. I might write up impressions of that once I've tried it. 

Likes: new additions to the core abilities, gameplay more or less the same, more vehicles, more challenges and difficulty levels, it has some music now, that awesome disembodied voice is back

Dilikes: significantly more generic and less immaginative, some of the HUD stuff players took for granted is strangely absent, my car won't transform, darker, the way the corners of the screen darken when you get hit is really annoying

First impression: Right now, this game feels more like Prototype than Crackdown. Will I still buy it? Probably, but you can tell the change in developer probably hurt it.

But wait, there's more! The demo is online for download right now on Xbox Live and you can try it for yourself! It's 30 minutes, but you can cheat the system. It's Fuzunga tested and approved. This glitch works.

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