In the original Crackdown, you were a king. Pacific City may have been full of criminals, but you crushed them easily beneath your orb-enhanced boot. You threw them for blocks with your steroid-pumped arms. You annihilated dozens with a single pass of your superhero SUV. You could not be stopped.
Crackdown 2? Maybe not so much. We recently spoke with Lead Designer Steve Iannetta about the new powers, weapons, vehicles and motivations of your vigilante Agent. He also warned us about your new enemies, the renegade Cell and virus-infected Freaks. We’ve got exclusive art, profiles and interviews for all the character types in Crackdown 2.
“Escalation”? Yeah, that’s definitely in effect in Pacific City…
By taking out the gangs, the Agency thought they had gained control and restored order to the city. However, a new and more powerful threat, the Freaks, has been relentless in its attacks against the seemingly unstoppable Agency. The Freaks, along with the Cell’s interference, have slowly reduced the Agency’s dominion to its last and best stronghold: The Agency Tower. Now, the reborn Agency seeks to make the Cell pay for their actions and take down the Freaks once and for all.
As Crackdown 2 begins, the Agency has successfully brought the Agent program back online in 10 years, and is ready to stamp its authority over the city by any means possible. With higher levels of threat, a larger city to cover, more intelligent enemies and no safe zones, the Agency will need to take extreme measures to bring Pacific City under control. A new breed of Agents is needed.
GamesRadar: Wasn’t The Agency revealed as an evil, world-conquering conspiracy in the ending to the first game? Is that still the case? If not, what’s changed?
Steve Iannetta, Lead Designer: The Agency’s prime motivation is to retain as much control over Pacific City and its citizens as possible. They have a firm belief that the methods they use are valid, even if that means a conspiracy or two, and that every action they take is for the long-term, greater good of the city. So I wouldn’t say they are evil – just that their moral compass is set a little differently to most.
GR: How have the agents’ abilities evolved for the sequel? Are they capable of any new skills or tricks?
SI: They are! We really wanted to create an even more powerful character. There are a number of new skills on offer and improvements to old. Hand-to-hand combat now boasts an array of new moves, offering different moves and ranges of attack. Prop-based combat now offers even more opportunities; so much more of the environment can be used as a weapon. We have also added in a new agility reward: the wing suit, which is a means for the Agent to glide around the city. This and the new levels of verticality in the city have opened up further what arguably could be described as the most open game environment to date.
GR: What about new weapons and vehicles?
SI: In both areas we have aimed to increase the Agent’s arsenal. One of the failings of the first game was the weapons. Unlike all other Agency equipment, they never 'grew' with the Agent. Now, as your skills progress, so does the ordinance at your disposal. To name a few, you’ll have heavy caliber assault rifles, two handed mini guns and an array of multi use high tech U.V. weapons. We have also tried to offer a new experience with the vehicles. With the addition of turreted weapons, we now have a very co-op focused toy-set. But I think the helicopter will prove to be the biggest hit.
GR: The best part about the original Crackdown was the anything-goes playground mentality. What fun things are you giving the agents to play with this time?
SI: Anything-goes is key to Crackdown. As mentioned, we will have a massive array of weaponry and vehicles, also the well documented Mag Grenades, but these are just some of the toys you can get your hands on. We have also expanded on what can be destroyed, how it is destroyed and the consequences of its destruction. The gas canisters are a great example of that. Not only are they deadly, but also very entertaining.
GR: Does collecting orbs still transform the player visually?
SI: Indeed, they do, but we have tried to get the transformation to mirror the growth in the Agent's powers and abilities. We didn't want the Agent to get beefier, larger, more 'butch' like the first game. Rather, we really wanted to see the Agent progress into more of a machine, a weapons system. Less human, more tank, and you will see this in the agent’s progression; his 'humanity' disappears the more he progresses.
GR: Will the different agents have distinct looks and perhaps even distinct personalities? Are you hoping to make them less generic than previously, or do you prefer them as blank shoes for the player to fill?
SI: I believe giving the Agent any form of personality does fly in the face of the original Crackdown; I don't think expressing the Agent’s hopes, desires, history and future is something you can do. He is a genetic experiment whose primary aim is to do someone else's bidding. The real personality in the game is the voice of the Agency. We really have raised the bar with the VOA. You can expect much more contextual feedback, reactions, comments and abuse in that unmistakable way.
GR: Describe the four-player co-op. How’s the dynamic change with twice the players running around Pacific City?
SI: First and foremost, there are much less limitations than the first in what you can do at any one time, so the possibilities have massively increased. We have designed the missions so there is a reward but also a choice in co-operative play. Players can work together on a mission, split off to do sub missions separately, or taking on different missions at a time. But I think the real difference will be when it comes to larking around. From the vehicles to the equipment on offer, we are really hopeful that the gamers who filled up YouTube with some classic gaming moments will find new and even more imaginative ways to entertain.