GAME CONSOLE’S DARREN PRICE CHATS TO JAMES COPE OF RUFFIAN GAMES ABOUT THE UPCOMING XBOX 360 EXCLUSIVE, CRACKDOWN 2.
DP Crackdown 2 takes place in Pacifi c City, the same setting as the fi rst game. What has been done to keep the exploration fresh, considering a lot of players will already be very familiar with the city?
JC Pacific City has undergone a lot of change. We specifi cally wanted players to come into Pacifi c City thinking that they know it, and then be surprised by what they fi nd and then immediately engage with a thought of “What has happened here?” The world has undergone a lot of regeneration following the end of the gang wars seen in the original Crackdown, but from that point, and the outbreak of the Freak virus, things have gone rapidly wrong. Buildings built and destroyed, movements of population and how people live day to day mean the city will be a familiar but different place. So the exploration stays fresh with that and because we’ve fi lled the world with lots of activity, not least because there are so many Cell and Freak enemies covering every aspect of the world.
DP Racing events were introduced via DLC for the fi rst Crackdown game. Will racing be available straight out of the box in the sequel?
JC Point-to-point road races return in Crackdown 2, and because the game is now completely open to four-player co-op it’s a much easier way of handling the street racing. Four players can fi nd a road race, grab a vehicle and race against each other however they feel. Or even better, they can just decide to race or fi ght against each other anywhere in the world they feel they want to. That’s really the experience we want players to have; they’re making their own sort of racing with the Crackdown 2 toy set. The Street Racing of Crackdown was like a world without activity, and we wanted to focus on getting the Campaign game full of things for four players to do rather than split things off into separate game modes.
DP What new vehicles will we see in Crackdown 2? Are there any aerial vehicles this time?
JC All of the Agency vehicles have undergone renewal, very much from a perspective of the Agency needing useful tools to do a job of elimination. So the Supercar, Buggy, SUV and Tank all come equipped with abilities that are geared around speed, agility or destruction. Cell vehicles are very much roughshod weapons with crude armour and big weapons, like a truck that has three rocket turrets mounted on the back. So you and three buddies can co-op up with a driver and some mobile artillery. The Agency Helicopter is useful for air-dropping in all your vehicles at tactical locations you capture around the world, so you can request weapon and vehicle resupply anywhere in the city. And ultimately you get to fl y the helicopter as one of the highest rewards for progressing your Agent’s agility skill.
DP Who are the Agents up against this time, having cleared out the gangs in the first game?
JC The primary objective for Agents in Crackdown 2 is Project Sunburst. This is the construction of a giant energy weapon across the entirety of Pacifi c City which, when detonated, will eradicate the Freak Virus in one hit. In order to do that, the system has to be constructed and each Beacon placed into Freak Lairs – underground spaces – and then detonated to create the energy network and gradually destroy Freak territories. The Cell is a terrorist group fi ghting against the Agency and acting to prevent the construction of Project Sunburst, so Agents will need to fi ght back against the Cell in order to activate all the Sunburst components. Cell only controls Pacifi c City during the daytime because the Freaks run rampant and dominate it at night. So the players are simply coming into the middle of a city that’s in a complete mess, and as a new breed of Agent they’re tasked with restoring control and order to the world.
DP What multiplayer modes will be on offer this time around?
JC Four-player co-op is a big aspect of multiplayer for us, as when you play co-op in an open world environment it always descends into kicking people off buildings, ad hoc races or just generally messing about destructively against each other. The other side of multiplayer is directly Agent-on-Agent in the 16-player multiplayer modes, and these are focused on fast and highpaced games. Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Rocket Tag are the three gametypes in the launch game. Each has its own unique Crackdown feel. Using the vertical play space is key to staying alive, and the Deathmatch games have different strategies to staying alive from big weapons all the way through to using Helicopters armed with rocket launchers. Rocket Tag is different in that it’s a skirmish game based around scoring points; there’s an Orb to catch to score points, and everybody is equipped with high-powered Agents and rocket launchers. It’s really simple and frenetic fun with everyone crazily focused on catching that Orb, even if it is just for a second.
DP Realtime Worlds developed the fi rst game. Has that company assisted you at all with this one?
JC No they’ve stayed focused on their own productions and we’ve focused entirely on Crackdown 2 with Microsoft. About half of the Ruffi an team worked on Crackdown originally and they were pretty much able to pick it up where they left off the fi rst time. It’s all amicable, though. Dundee [Scotland] is a fairly small place with a lot of games talent in the same places, so everyone is close in one way or another.
DP Are you re-using assets from the fi rst game or have you started from scratch?
JC We had planned to re-use some iconic environment assets from the fi rst game, like the Agency Tower as the continuation of Pacifi c City on a 10-year timeline gave us that starting point. But as it turned out we had to rebuild almost every part of the world, so everything is essentially new or rebuilt under a new asset pipeline (which incidentally we also had to build). It’s been a remarkable job by some people that are incredibly talented, and with their clever tools and a bit of effort our internal and outsourced art teams were able to construct amazing things in a really short space of time.
DP Crackdown was full of very satisfying explosions. Can we expect bigger and better explosions this time?
JC Definitely. One of our primary motivations for Crackdown 2 was to blow a lot of stuff up. We all enjoyed that aspect of Crackdown and, personally, I’ve always enjoyed my rocket launchers in video games. Actually, as I’ve said above, the primary objective in Crackdown 2 is to blow up Pacifi c City with an energy bomb, so yes, you can certainly expect bigger explosions.
DP What is the most awesome new feature in Crackdown 2?
JC I won’t say a single feature, as the beauty is the combination of multiple features. I really love attaching vehicles to the Helicopter with Mag Grenades and swinging them around as giant wrecking balls. It’s even funnier if the vehicle is the Agency Tank and you’ve got a co-op buddy driving the tank, with you as the Helicopter pilot fl ying them around as a wrecking ball while they’re fi ring loose with the Tank’s cannon. The combination of features like these is where the real awesome fun is in Crackdown 2.
DP Is there any DLC planned for Crackdown 2? Can you tell us about it?
JC Yes we have a pretty good set of things planned for DLC but we won’t announce the full feature list until the game is out. People can expect to see Keys to the City 2 and usual things like new weapons and vehicles. We’ll also bring out some new ways to play with Crackdown 2, but that’s as much as we want to say ahead of people playing the game in their Xbox 360s.
DP Will we have to wait another three years for Crackdown 3?
JC What we do next is barely even a solid idea yet. It’s more like a set of options, fragments and possibilities that might make something amazing. There are some fantastic options in there and we have a direction we’re heading in. So I’d certainly hope that people will know what we’re doing a long time before another three years pass.