The same thing happens every day. The sun, rising unseen, illuminates Pacific City with a vague, generic glow. In this unwashed daylight, Pacific City's buildings, which glower with foreboding imperialism in the darkness, are revealed to be charmless monoliths - a warren of cardboard box offices and oatmeal can towers. An occasional flock of paper scraps churn through the air in the otherwise featureless corners and alleyways. As the light emerges, so do the city's sanest residents. I say "sanest," though I would be hard-pressed to defend the mental health of citizens who insist on loitering in the streets like herd animals - a meandering obstacle course that the game admonishes me for mowing down.
THE GOOD: At first I was frustrated with my limited abilities to rampage through Crackdown 2's cityscape. I could barely leap up a single story, my available guns were feeble little firearms, and every vehicle I drove swerved like it was rolling on ice. But as I achieved each rooftop, blasted each enemy and careered through the street-level "races," I obtained points in the corresponding skills. My avatar, in the tradition of Oblivion and Fable 2, was being shaped by my actions.
THE BAD: Crackdown 2 calls to mind the inconsistent 3D modeling and animation of early PlayStation games. My avatar snaps from one action to another with no fluidity between. I'm able to edge around corners while hanging on the outside of buildings, but unable to move along horizontal pipes and poles in the same position. And using the game's targeting system is a fussy, frustrating cycle of locking-on, unlocking, re-aiming and re-locking as the game seems to insist on deciding who or what I want to attack.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Crackdown 2 is a mindless summer rampage that deadens its potential blockbuster energy with low-budget production values.