A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
"You are the judge, jury and executioner" says the game's marketing materials and as with the first Crackdown, this is indeed the case -- with a strong emphasis on execution. You're a "good guy" trying to take down the "bad guys," so you might think the message is a good one, but the amount of violence in which players engage can't be easily justified. What's more, your Agent's assumed "good guy" status is called into question as the story progresses.
Positive Role Models
The game puts players in the boots of an Agent, a cop out to stop two warring factions -- the Freaks and the Cell -- from destroying Pacific City and risking the lives of innocents. But you go about this task by taking on deadly missions to blow up, shoot, and eliminate these human (and humanoid) characters. Plus, narrative hints suggest that the organization for which our Agent works might not be not be as benevolent as it claims. Therefore, the lead protagonist is not a good role model.
Ease of Play
The game is fairly easy to pick up and control, plus it gradually introduces players to new moves and abilities over time. Players will learn to navigate the city, including many vertical levels, as well as many vehicles, collect orbs and try out new and creative ways to snuff enemies.
Violence & Scariness
In Crackdown 2 players take on the role of an Agent who has free reign to crush mutant freaks and gangsters in Pacific City. This includes using guns and other weapons, setting off explosions, and other over-the-top carnage. Blood sprays and limbs and gobs of flesh go flying off enemies. Innocent civilians are killed by both baddies and the player's character. For example, you can drive into pedestrians and you'll see a huge spray of blood from the crowd.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Characters can be heard saying "f--k," "s--t," "asshole," "bitch," "hell," and "damn." It's not too excessive but it doesn't take long to hear this strong profanity.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Crackdown 2 is violent, gory, and bloody. If the picture on the cover of the box -- which depicts one Agent firing down from a building rooftop and another leaping with a concrete block, as if to pounce on someone's head -- doesn't give it away then take heed of the ESRB's "Mature" warning in the corner. As an Agent, players must sweep the streets of crime. It sounds noble enough, but instead of apprehending the criminals you are blasting them away -- and seeing bloody bits fly and spatter the environment. Clearly, this game is not for kids. Sometimes you're killing human-like baddies (The Cell) or mutant creatures (The Freaks) that don't look human, but parents should know both exist in this game.
Is It Any Good?
Yes, it's a solid "B"-grade game, but fans of the original Crackdown should be aware that developer Ruffian Games didn't add too much to this sequel. Except for some new multiplayer options and other minor tweaks, it really is just more of the same. Those expecting a new direction for the series might be disappointed. Also, the missions become repetitive after a short while.
That being said, the game's over-the-top gameplay, emphasis on verticality, tight control, and colorful art style all help make this action game a good pick – especially for those who prefer taking to the streets alongside (or against) friends online. Crackdown 2 won't be one of the best games of 2010, but it delivers a lot of gratifying gameplay for mature Xbox 360 owners.
Online interaction: The game supports a number of multiplayer game modes -- including four-player co-op and 16-player competitive play. Gamers with a headset microphone can chat during gameplay if desired, which means it's possible to hear profanity spoken by others as well as communicate with strangers in online matches.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.