It’s time to crackdown on the lowlife scum of Pacific City. And by that I mean watch the prequel web comic produced by Microsoft for Crackdown 2. If you’re unfamiliar with the original, it was a functional, if noticeably jerky, open world action game. It had a pretty laughable co-op mode which was just ripe for goofing off, but it’s mostly footnoted as being the carrier for the Halo 3 beta – a mass market success that saw Crackdown shot up the charts.
Crackdown 2 (from Ruffian Games, some of the guys who brought you the original) is out in Europe today. So what better way to celebrate this year’s most likely candidate for the ‘sequel that never should have been’ by reviewing its animated backstory?
Seems themed gangs aren’t outlandish enough these days. Introducing Pacific City as once again becoming a haven for crime and civil unrest, the Crackdown 2 web comic aims to make its implausible plot something to buy into. There are mutants in Crackdown 2. Yes, angry, drooling, deformed mutants. It’s total B-movie cheese. The five episodes (written by Ed Campbell) don’t follow a linear narrative, but rather summarise a brief history of events, treating you as a law abiding citizen and vigilant eye of the Agency. Catalina Thorne and the Sunburst project are introduced as two objectives that will be central to the game, but true character is thin on the ground.
I did find the art style (by Alex Ronald) to be quite striking for what they’re going for – although it’s more vivid than the game’s cartoony art direction. The slight shaky cam effect also helps set the tone for the rough, urban wasteland that is presented.
If these episodes appeared as a series of public announcements they could easily be watched out of sequence and still be understood. That’s a testament to the fact that the Crackdown 2 web comic makes some positive use of its medium. However, its lack of character means motion comics like Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel and Uncharted: Eye of Indra have the edge in terms of engagement. Like the game it’s based on, repeat viewings of this web comic will unearth little you haven’t already seen in one sitting.