One-on-one, your options are even greater. Escape upward, downward, horizontally, or anywhere in between. Brave a hail of gunfire into sprint in and deliver an (admittedly over-powered) ultimate melee of insta-kill justice. Get your opponent to follow your trajectory into the air, and throw an inescapable proximity mine down at your shared landing spot. Initiate a foot chase and use your immense freedom of movement to get lost in the cityscape, reappearing behind your pursuer from any one of tens of directions he didn’t expect.
Above: It's like a big playground. A playground of DEATH
The key to online success in Crackdown 2 isn’t just in your use of weapons, but in how your conduct yourself when using them. With vast urban maps equalling the variety and complexity of the main game’s city, the options to personalise your play style are many and various.
Go all-out run-and-gun if you like, or be a Predator, sneaking around the rooftops and striking the unwary below. Take the blaze of glory approach, running for the vehicles to rack up as many easy kills as you can before everyone else inevitably gangs up on you. Or you can camp those very vehicles for the whole match, using them as bait. A cockpit makes a great grenade target.
The inevitable problems
But Crackdown 2’s multiplayer certainly isn’t perfect. For all of its options, it’s still at heart a very basic, old-school deathmatch. DM, Team DM and Rocket Tag, that’s all you get, though that line-up might be expanded with DLC. Right now though, the omissions are indefensible given the sort of content already in the main game. Where are the zombie (sorry, 'freak') modes? Where's the combat racing? Where are the competetive orb-collecting challenges? And while creative play can save your life or turn a situation right around, certain weapon combinations only ever go one way.
Above: This guy = about to notch up big points. Then explode
As mentioned earlier, melee is utterly devastating, and up close you’ll simply be swatting flies as you charge in through your opponent's bullets to reconfigure their bone structure.
And while ‘Get to zeh chohpaaah’ isn’t the patented win button it is in Modern Warfare, piloting the helicopter will definitely allow you to rack up your lead or close the gap without much trouble at all. You’ll get taken down eventually, but given the dizzying heights you can reach while maintaining (fairly) accurate cannon fire, that could take some while. Fun, Crackdown 2 PvP certainly is. Immaculately balanced it certainly is not.
Above: Car vs. man, who will prevail? Clue: Car
Nor is it a game that particularly rewards twitch reflexes or pixel-perfect aiming skills, so if you’re all about precision multiplayer, you’ll hate it like wasps. If however, you just want a raucous, silly, but surprisingly creative approach to online blasty-killy, you will find it here.
Whether by accident or design (both are arguable), Crackdown 2’s gameplay does work online, and brings about a flavour of deathmatch you just won’t get anywhere else. It’s a bit shaky, yes. Like the rest of Crackdown 2 it has the whiff of rushed development about it, and it’s certainly too throwaway to session until the sun comes up. But as a half-hour slice of light-hearted spectacle and action movie nonsense, it’s definitely worth a dip. Not worth buying Crackdown 2 for alone in its current state, but definitely an enjoyable bonus if you were going to buy it anyway. Ruffian, we will be watching out for those updates.
What do you reckon? Have these multiplayer findings changed your mind in any way about Crackdown 2? And would you like to see us rate other games' multiplayer experiences in more of these online-focused articles? Let me know in the comments, or treat our Facebook and Twitter portals as your own personal opinion buckets.