Crackdown 2: Return of The Lazy Sequel

The Crackdown 2 demo was giving me some serious déjà vu as I jumped from ledges to rooftops collecting agility orbs. I played the first game when it launched back in 2007 so it’s been a while ... but man did those buildings look familiar. Turns out there’s a reason for that – it’s the same city. It’s not even a radical a new take on Pacific City. It’s the same place we explored to death three years ago with some architectural wrinkles.

Gametrailers does a good job highlighting this in their latest comparison between the first game and the upcoming sequel. You should watch it. Go on, I’ll wait.

I’ve often said I don’t mind sequels because they give developers a chance to do amazing things with the tools they spent years developing. Uncharted 2 and Assassin’s Creed 2 made great strides with a couple years and a mature platform to work from. Infamous 2 looks to do the same while moving the game to a whole new city. Crackdown 2 is different. When asked in a recent interview on Gamasutra how long the game has been in development, Ruffian mission designer Martin Livingston was forthright. “We've been working hard solidly, fully ramped up for a little over a year. It's a short space of time. It's been a very fast-process game.”

Realtime Worlds, the developers of the original Crackdown, were too busy working on APB to do a proper sequel. It fell to the newly formed Ruffian Games to crank out a new game on a short time table. It’s tricky enough to do it when you’re established -- doubly so when you’re forming a new studio at the same time. “It's been one very fast push with not too many problems. It's gone pretty smoothly,” Livingston tells Chris Remo. “It was hard work, but that was offset by the fact that everyone loves what they're doing.” That's a bit like a chef saying he loves reheating and serving dishes he made three days ago.

The end result appears to be the original Crackdown with support for up to four players coop, the added benefit of everyone going off to do their own missions and a few other light features and tweaks. This would sound pretty good to me if it were a big DLC expansion for the original game. At a $60 retail release it’s the kind of cash grab EA would have pulled in the late 90's.

A new game franchise can be a fragile thing. Most publishers have figured this out and often spend more resources on sequels than they did on the original games. After a mere 15 months in development, Crackdown 2 has passed certification and should hit shelves on July 6th. It remains to be seen if the game that surprised everyone back in 2007 can still delight gamers who just paid full price for nearly the same experience they had three years ago. I was pumped when they announced a sequel to a game I loved. Now I'm just waiting for the other shoe to drop.


Don't worry guys, it will drop to $29-39 within a month. For me, that's a great price point to explore the city again

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who tried the demo and thought something was off graphics-wise. Does the lighting have something to do with it among other things? The first Crackdown had some very gorgeous settings - the best still being the view from the top of the Agency tower as you pan around, with the warm sunlight cresting over the horizon.

Kotaku seems to have the first review I've seen for Crackdown 2. Verdict: as good as but not exceeding the original. All the bits that have stayed the same (the city, the combat, the acrobatics) are still as good, whereas the bits that have changed (enemies, mission structure) are merely adequate replacements.

One thing this thread has got me thinking about is re-experiencing 'old' games and keeping it fresh, instead of just playing it through exactly the same way you did last time.

My example would be my current playthrough of Deus Ex, where I'm not using rifles, which would usually be my 'meat and potatoes' weaponry in a playthrough useful against most enemies, and using pistols and heavy weapons more. This means I'm almost forced to play it differently and need to think the game through in a similar way to when I first experienced a given level because I have different constraints, even if I know what's going to happen or the layout of a map.

Between that and Mass Effect, it has me thinking of whether I do have a preset way of experiencing games, and that adding new game content is only one way to get more out of a game.

Nice article. I played the demo and was also overwhelmed by a feeling of over familiarity.

One of the main pleasures to be derived from an open world game is the sense of progress you get from exploring the environment. You are initially lost in a vast and complex city then, through exploration, you gradually learning the ins and outs of different areas and become more and more familiar with the territory as a whole. Basing the game on the same city that existed in the original is, at the very least, going to take the edge of that aspect of the game for me.

Also, when playing open world games, I tend to have a big, involuntary switch in my head that flicks from enthusiastic to disinterested the moment I've visited the last undiscovered part of the map. It usually results in me stopping playing shortly there after. If I was to pick up this game (which I might when it's really, really cheap) I sense there would be a danger of the switch flicking over close to the start of the game rather than at the end.

Scratched wrote:

One thing this thread has got me thinking about is re-experiencing 'old' games and keeping it fresh, instead of just playing it through exactly the same way you did last time.

I'm always amazed how fresh games can feel when you play them through again. Switching up tactics and weapon use does help. Invariably, when I've play through a game again, I'll be really glad I did it. There are quite a few games now that I'm feeling I might enjoy re-experiencing.

The surprising thing is the amount of self-discipline you need. If you know all the best methods to plough through the game, to deliberately play with one hand behind your back is difficult. You have to remind yourself that completion is not the objective as you've done it already, but to travel a different route to the destination.

The reviews are pouring in. Looks like the other shoe dropped.