Pacific City, once a bright shining star amongst a galaxy of drab concrete game worlds, is not as we remember. Since we were last here, this grand metropolis has been reduced to rubble, and the streets are now crowded with desperate refugees, armed militia and hideous mutant Freaks - and that's even without Boris Johnson as Mayor.
In fact, it's all the fault of the Agency, the police force that declared itself totalitarian ruler at the end of the first game. The Agency Chief might be the daddy when it comes to snappy one-liners, but he's really let things get out of hand. Cue the arrival of four super-powered clones and some action-packed co-operative crimefighting.
While the original Crackdown felt a bit empty with just two players, this time it's more like an all-out war. If you aren't teaming up to battle the overwhelming numbers of Freaks, you're turning the rocket launchers on each other for an impromptu sandbox deathmatch.
The co-op is definitely better this time around - especially when you're just messing about - but it's a shame the campaign doesn't facilitate it better.
The three criminal corporations from the original Crackdown have been deposed, and instead of eliminating charismatic gang leaders one by one, you're tasked with seizing militia bases and activating laser nodes around the city. The nodes form part of Project Sunburst, a super weapon designed to eliminate the Freaks overrunning the city.
We really miss the clever mechanic where defeating a certain type of gang boss would weaken the others when it comes to weaponry, vehicles or recruitment. Activating nodes just doesn't seem as interesting, and the only impact on the world is that it stops more Freaks appearing. Capturing militia bases also lacks the strategy of the first game, the only innovation being that they will eventually re-take ground if you don't totally suppress them.
At least the Freaks make for fairly fearsome opponents, particularly because there are thousands of them on screen at any given time, and they evolve roughly three times faster than Wayne Rooney.
By the end of the game, even the ever-improving Agents aren't able to jump as high or punch as hard as these slimy green dump trucks. And as the game goes on, the swarms start to feel almost as unrelenting as Activision's ultra-frantic Prototype.
This time, Pacific City has toned down its bright cel-shaded style and gone for a darker, grittier tone. The layout is totally unchanged from the original Crackdown, which makes it feel like you're just playing the very same game again. It even goes so far as to once again use the original gangs' bases as the staging posts for the sunburst nodes and Freak hives.
To be fair, the cosmetic changes are significant and the city now looks like something out of Escape from New York. Buildings like the once great Shai-Gen tower lie derelict, the people skulk around in fear, and there's less civilian traffic on the roads. The draw distance is also much more impressive, making the view from the Agency tower, or the Hope Skyscraper something to behold. Ruffian has certainly made Pacific City feel like a different place, even if the business of collecting agility orbs hasn't changed all that much.
Leaping between rooftops and listening out for that oh-so-addictive sound of orbs is still Crackdown 2's star attraction. It's incredibly compulsive, and the new renegade orbs which run away from you are completely irresistible - even if you have to try about a hundred times to catch one. We also like the new Xbox Live orbs that can only be collected when there's another player close by. It's a cool way of making players stick together at least some of the time.