Hands On: Crackdown 2 Multiplayer

Crackdown was an enormous success. Not content with being “that game with the Halo 3 beta”, it turned out that putting a super-powered agent in the middle of a sprawling city tasked with killing off three large gangs was actually a ton of fun. So it was only fair that all of us get excited about the prospects of a sequel.

Unfortunately, at the time, RealTime Worlds said that it would not be making one and that the company had gone to work on other projects. Our collective gaming dismay was assuaged by the announcement at last year’s E3 that a sequel was in the works, under the guidance of Ruffian Games, a relatively new developer that boasts employees with experience working on Project Gotham Racing, Fable II, and the original Crackdown. At PAX East, late last month, the team showed up with a multi-player demo that allowed gamers to take part in two different scenarios. One, a traditional team death match, and the other a new take on the classic “kill the carrier” game type called “Rocket Tag”. Both modes are a blast to play and take full advantage of all the super powered agents fantastic abilities. Crackdown isn’t just about co-op anymore.

I started off with the team death match mode. While I wasn’t really given a choice (simply based on luck of the queue) I was relieved to have a crack at this one before Rocket Tag, simply because I wanted to focus on seeing how the controls and mechanics of the game (which remains incredibly faithful to the original) translate to a PvP mode. The transition is fluid and seamless. The simplicity of the point and shoot controls, coupled with the athletic jumps and strength abilities all marry together wonderfully. The pace isn’t wholly frantic, but with players jumping all over the map and moving with considerable speed there is a twitch factor to the game that isn’t present in the more plodding and deliberate shooters like MW2 and even Halo.

Vehicles made an appearance in the only map available to play. It took place down in the dock area that would look familiar to players from the first game. Plenty of scaffolding and sea containers to jump around and over. Vehicles like a small dune buggy with a machine gun and a helicopter became pretty popular landmarks, but sadly they were usually blown up before I got a chance at driving one. Something that turned out to impress and surprise even the developers was that more often they were used as projectiles, hurled toward enemy players rather than operated in their normal fashion. Multi-player looks like it will have a tiered system of experience similar to other games but since all the demos jumped right into the game play there was no time for tooling about the sub menus and checking out how the stats work exactly. We can only speculate at this point. It is fair to say that the most vanilla mode of the game, the death match, is highly addictive and fun which bodes well for the more specialized modes that will be available at game launch.

Speaking of which…

Rocket Tag made and appearance as well as Crackdown 2‘s version of “kill the carrier”. The premise being that one player is “It” having grabbed a glowing ball that spawns somewhere on the map. When you have the ball your job is to RUN LIKE HELL and avoid all the other players. There’s good reason to because everyone else in the game is equipped with a rocket launcher. Your own ability to retaliate is limited so trying to stand toe to toe with people when you are “It” is the worst possible idea. Luckily you have all the abilities of an Agent to try and out-run your competitors. On the map we were shown there were what looked like man cannons from Halo 3 which propel you high into the air when you run over one. This creates a much more frantic atmosphere with rockets exploding all around as the players vie for control of the ball. Even though everyone is focused on the carrier, it is still an everyman for himself situation so don’t expect any level of teamwork. This was just as much fun as the team death match and could become a multi-player favorite when the game launches later this year.

Look for more Terminal Gamer coverage of Crackdown 2 as we approach its release date.