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Crackdown 2: A Brave (not so) New World

CoverAn addictive sandbox game with a sci-fi twist, Crackdown 2 picks up where the 2007 original left off. The player controls a genetically modified clone soldier of the shady but powerful Agency, an arm of the government scrambling to maintain its Big Brother-like control of Pacific City. Referred to as "Agent," the player customizes the character by choosing one of several men's faces (sorry ladies) and an armor color, and begins the journey after a brief training session.

The Agent's progression is tracked through five basic attributes: Agility, Driving, Strength, Firearms and Explosives which are leveled by a combination of finding a variety of orbs and destroying enemies by various means. For example, to raise the Strength attribute enemies must be killed with melee attacks, improvised weapons like thrown cars or light poles, or by discovering carefully placed Mystery Orbs that give an incremental across the board ability boost (Agility Orbs scatter rooftops, unique renegade orbs that improve Agility and Driving must be chased and grabbed). Raised attributes are demonstrable in not only the Agent’s physical strength and speed but also access to superior weapons and vehicles. At the beginning players will drive everywhere, only to eschew cars almost entirely when Agility is high enough to run and jump across the rooftops to travel as the crow flies.

Agent uses every tool at his disposal to reclaim hostile strongholds and activate light beacons as the primary missions, with two main enemy groups in opposition: the Cell, "freedoms fighters" led by activist (and former Agency researcher) Catalina Thorne, and a zombie-like horde of nocturnal enemies referred to as the Freaks, whose origin is revealed via discoverable audio logs scattered
throughout the city. The stronghold and beacon missions drive the story, complemented by welcome distractions common to sandbox-style games such as road races and vehicle stunts.

Mandatory cinematics and the voiceover of Agent’s handler provide an outline of the story, but the details are filled in by the previously mentioned collectible Audio Logs. Crackdown 2’s addictive nature comes from the use of collectibles (numbering over one thousand) to enhance the player and open more of the world as well as new abilities. The graphics are great but not excellent and may serve as a source of frustration to original Crackdown gamers as there is little improvement (the map layout is identical as well), while the game’s sound could benefit from more music and louder gunfire. The controls are responsive, but small lapses in the consistency of climbable surfaces occur. Overall, gamers will find Crackdown 2 an engrossing and addictive sandbox experience.

GRAPHICS:      4/5
SOUND:      3.5/5
CONTROLS:  4.5/5
OVERALL:      4/5

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