Found this while digging around in the corners of my external hard drive - a short review from last year, of a game that was already old when I got my hands on it. Shared here as a curiosity/to keep the blog ticking over/because you really should play Crackdown 2, y'know. It's well fun.
Really, all open-world games are just playgrounds. They give you a safe space and just enough equipment for you to make your own fun. Individual games specialise, improving the playground itself – Red Faction’s destructible buildings – or the toys you’re given – Just Cause’s trademark grappling hook.
Crackdown 2, however, gives you what every child swinging from the monkey bars really wants: super powers. You are a genetically-modified government agent in the mutant-infested Pacific City. Faster than a speeding bullet and all the rest, packing gadgets that would make Tony Stark jealous - including an SUV which can drive along walls.
To get your hands on one of those beauties you’ve got to prove yourself, by gaining experience points in five areas – strength, agility, driving, guns, and explosives – by performing relevant actions. Punch someone off a roof to boost your strength, squash them beneath your tyres to access better cars. Chasing after Agility Orbs or jumping a car through stunt rings provide less violent alternatives. It’s a just-clever-enough system, encouraging a constantly varied play-style. Explosive skill lagging behind? Stop running everyone over and break out the grenades.
As a sequel it’s not much of a step forward and the game only provides the barest bones of missions, but all that really matters is how genuinely powerful you feel, especially at the higher levels, as you leap between rooftops and fling cars at enemies. You are Superman. Or rather, you're the kid jumping off the swings and shouting "up, up and away".