Set a decade after the original Crackdown, this sequel sees your special agent back on the streets of Pacific City, which is being over-run every night by gangs of mutated Freaks, along with the mysterious vigilante organisation known simply as Cell. No ordinary agent, you’re clothed in a specially designed carbon-fibre suit which allows for increased protection and superhuman agility, allowing you to leap great distances (very handy when you’re on your own against hordes of bad guys); even better news is that your abilities (agility, strength, driving, firearms and explosives) improve as you complete tasks, collect various orbs dotted around the massive playing area and complete foot or driving races. So far, so good.
The idea behind Crackdown 2 is reasonably solid (albeit low on plot), the cell-shaded graphics are pretty impressive and the voice acting is above average. Unfortunately, it’s the gameplay that lets it down. The free-roaming, open-ended world that works so well in titles like GTA IV and Elder Scrolls: Oblivion seems jaded here, with no real impetus on the player to actually complete tasks. The combat can be very exasperating, particularly when you’re set upon by a group of Freaks (it seems button-mashing is your only recourse) and the climbing elements, of which there are many, will have even seasoned gamers tearing their hair out – the building design means that it’s generally a case of trial and error to figure out how to get to most of your destinations. While some of the driving elements provide decent arcade-style fun (especially squashing the Freaks), the glitches with the majority of the gameplay mean that Crackdown 2 is, for the most part, more frustrating than fun.