PAX East ’10: Crackdown 2
It’s a concept so simple yet so successful: eight people with rocket launchers and of those being an unfortunate soul being hunted down by all the others until they’re dead. Crackdown 2 was playable at PAX, and while single player wasn’t available, eight-player Rocket Tag was on the menu (after a lengthy line). It was delicious.
Crackdown 2 casts each player as a super-powered badass that can leap buildings in a single bound, although they aren’t quite as fast as a speeding bullet. That wouldn’t be fair since the mode is essentially an explosive game of tag. One way to score points in this mode is to hold on to the orb, which randomly appears at the start of the stage. The only other way to climb the scoreboard is to kill the person with the orb. The two objectives mesh together nicely, especially when that euphoric feeling kicks in after grabbing the orb upon killing the person with it. That mood was quickly replaced with the wide-eyed fear of being a target when I first picked it up.
One thing that has made the transition from the prequel is the great sense of control. Jumping multiple stories while dodging/firing rockets in a massive stage full of ledges, tall buildings and boost pads that send whoever steps on it hundreds of feat is never too much to handle. Critical reactions from the previous game vary, but I think most people can agree that it feels pretty natural to control someone with unnatural abilities. Vehicles, which weren’t nearly as fun when Crackdown came out in 2007, weren’t available in this mode.
The controls were set to inverted and I was too stubborn to ask how to change it, but a handy lock-on feature helped. The rockets don’t follow targets, but locking on to a foe, which takes less than a second, is a great aid. Like I said, the level was huge, so it’s a rare sight to see someone in a confined, rocket-friendly space. This means firing rockets as fast as possible is a somewhat sound strategy.
The match lasted about ten minutes, and while I was in last place for most of the duration, I was enjoying it all thoroughly. At one point, the orb respawned on top of a large water tower that required a precision jump or two. Performing said jump as rockets launched by several people perched on surrounding buildings is no easy feat. Trying to make the jump as a couple people are trying to do the same thing, all while dodging those rockets, made for a humorous minute until someone finally grabbed it.
Due to the inverted controls (or my suckitude), I hardly touched the orb. Holding it for 15 seconds, which sounds easy enough, scores the most points. Once, I picked up the orb and attempted to jump to safety. Just as I did, I was blown up. It was a little frustrating to be so woefully inept, but such ill feelings did not last.
With under a minute left, I happened upon the orb. About 50 feet in front of me was one of those booster pads. Surrounding me were a bunch of rocket-toting supermen. I ran in a straight line, which in hindsight was probably not the best move. Someone watching me – I didn’t look off the screen to see who – started shouting “Go! Go! Go!” as I neared the pad. Rockets flew past me. My heart was pounding. Video games aren’t supposed to make me so nervous, I thought. When I jumped on the pad and flew hundreds of feet away from my foes and my score rose, I thought video games shouldn’t make me feel so good. In the end, I was content with fourth place, but if this multiplayer demo was any indication, I’m looking forward to honing my skills when Crackdown 2 comes out in July.