In Defence of Crackdown 2

Crackdown 2 was released two weeks ago and it seems everybody exerted a collective sigh upon playing it, followed by the worlds “I’ve already played this game”. Crackdown 2 is once again set in Pacific City and for people who really liked the original Crackdown, this game would automatically feel similar to the other one. It seems though most of the hate was from non 360 players. They complained that it looked like a last generation game, that it was the exact same ect. The Crackdown games are about one thing and that’s fun and if you really dive into Crackdown 2 you will surely have a lot of it.

Crackdown 2 was released more than 3 years after the original and many people believe the game was in development from then. The truth of the matter they had less than half that time to completely make the game. That includes: concept, design, writing, voice acting, and finally coding. You may still think that may be enough time to make it better than the original game. The original Crackdown though was originally slated as an original Xbox title before the decision was made to make it an Xbox 360 game. Big titles usually have 2-3 years of design but concept may already be in progress long before the project itself is underway. On top of that Ruffian Games was a brand new studio and while a lot of the team left Realtime Worlds (developers of the original Crackdown) to come to Ruffian, they still had to set up a whole new company. Finding the office space, getting the right development equipment and hire new employees to work on their next game.

Another huge complaint about Crackdown 2 were the graphics. First off Crackdown 1 wasn’t a jaw dropping beautiful game and it didn’t need to be. The people who mostly beat this game down for its looks were PlayStation 3 fan boys. Without trying to start a flame war I’m going to make just one comment about this. PS3 devotees will laugh at Xbox 360 owners for the graphical power of Crackdown 2 but Crackdown 2 isn’t supposed to be one of Microsoft’s big hitters in the next year. One of Sony’s big hitters on the other hand in the new Twisted Metal game. When I first looked at that I thought that the graphics were quite underwhelming, especially considering this was Sony’s big E3 surprise. If I was to actually make this comment directed at a PlayStation fan boy, chances are I’d get one of two responses. Either “That was alpha build. The final product will look so much better”, or, “Twisted metal was never about graphics, it was always about gameplay”. Yes, chances are the game may look better when it is completed but it will never look that good. A game has never made a huge leap from Alpha to finished from a graphical standpoint. Also, if Twisted Metal is all about gameplay, why can’t Crackdown 2?

Was it really too much like the first? I mean we played Modern Warfare and most people thought it was one of the best games this generation. Fast forward 2 years, they add an extremely short campaign and add a few new perks to a few new maps. The look and feel were pretty identical but there was one thing that was actually worse: The Multiplayer. The real selling point of Modern Warfare 2 suffered because of bugs and glitches. Through fire and flames though Modern Warfare 2 was by large the best selling game on Xbox 360 and PS3 last year. I think one of the problems with Crackdown is its unique premise. Sure open world games have been cloned more times than your Crackdown agent but it was those attributes that could be upgraded that made it stand out. Those addictive agility orbs that resonated a sound you could really only associate with Crackdown. You take that away and it’s not a Crackdown game anymore. They had to keep many of the things that made Crackdown original.

I played a lot of Crackdown 2 over the last two weeks and I do feel like they kept Pacific City as the setting for a reason. It was familiar but they meant it in a good way. They wanted to show this colourful vibrant city in a completely different light. Ruffian Games wanted to create a deeper, stronger story that you could get stuck into right away. They chose a consequence for a mission you completed in the first game meaning it had a direct connection to you, the player. Unfortunately it didn’t go down as well as they had hoped and people began thinking it was lazy designing. It could be anything but that. Ruffian wanted to really make a game about they player.

People who wrote the reviews didn’t help the backlash at all. Some of the biggest websites were ill informed and told the reader wrong information, mostly about the development time. One writer from a huge website wrote, “I’m used to games feeling similar year after year, but with three and a half years in between titles, Crackdown 2 should’ve packed an incredible amount of bang for your buck”. The game was simply not in development for this long. Other writers had other pathetic things to complain about the game. Another writer complained about knocking down civilians when you drive on the sidewalk which leads to the Agency turning on them. Now correct me if I’m wrong but any open world game with civilians, if you knock them down there are repercussions for always doing this. Why is Crackdown 2 seen so differently. Others complained about the narrator breaking the fourth wall to acknowledge an achievement. This is nothing that deserves to be marked down over. If you didn’t like it well it’s your choice but you have to be unbiased when reviewing a game.

Everybody said Crackdown 2 was just like Crackdown 1 but in all honestly what could they have done so differently? There are some refinements that still need to be done, a new city to explore, more varying missions and a better story. Would that be enough? When you play Grand Theft Auto you  expect to drive around for someone, get revenge for a friend that was wrong done and overthrow a rival gang in the area. Grand Theft Auto hasn’t had a world of differences in all of their iterations but it still seems to be the benchmark of open world games.

In many ways Crackdown 2 was to try remind people why we got lost in such an unusual game. It’s a playground filled with everything for you to put together and have fun with. If you’re not having fun in it, would that not be your fault then for having a lack of imagination. You can do whatever you want in Pacific City, take on many different things in many different ways. It may not feel perfect or be the best looking game in the world but the game is fun and that’s all that should matter. It’s that reason why we start playing games for in the first place

Owner of Game-Smack, Jason plays everything that's possible. Goal of Game-Smack: Overhearing a stranger "Game-Smack? I've heard of that. It sucks!"

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