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.