Game developers try to fit as much as they can into their products, which usually makes the consumer the winner.
Sometimes, though, a less-is-more approach works for a game.
“Crackdown” didn’t have the depth of other games, but the 2007 Xbox 360 release was one of the most memorable early games for the system.
The plot was simple. You chased down gangs in the fictional Pacific City and worked through the group’s heirarchy until you took down the boss. The co-op mode was ahead of its time, and its cel-shaded animation is now used more frequently. The game’s success can also be attributed to the inclusion of a beta for the then highly-anticipated “Halo 3.” Some bought “Crackdown” specifically for the beta and then latched on to the addictive gameplay.
Well “Crackdown 2” doesn’t have the luxury of attaching itself to the “Halo” franchise, but the original likely built up enough of a following to make the sequel, which came out Tuesday, a strong seller.
“Crackdown 2” aims to recreate what worked in the first game and add a few tweaks to make the game feel fresh. Instead of fighting gangs, the player battles two factions: an insurgency known as the Cell and a group of nocturnal mutants. The player attempts to control various parts of Pacific City by eliminating the threats, sort of reminiscent of the old “Grand Theft Auto” games that had various gang territories to take over.
The game, however, doesn’t feel fresh. It feels like a recycled game with different enemies. There is no real story.
I’m all for the ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it doctrine, but that works more as a baseline approach for a series, like when the “Grand Theft Auto” developers decide that they’ll take a protagonist and throw him into a huge sandbox city and have various mission chains to tell his story. I’m certainly not trying to compare “Crackdown 2” to any “Grand Theft Auto” game, but rather show how a series can stick to its formula and still find a different and fresh way to further the franchise.
“Crackdown 2” is a solid game, but it’s not different enough from its predecessor to warrant too much praise. The less-is-more approach can work for one game in a series, but the sequels need to bring something new. Otherwise, gamers might as well just stick to the original.