Crackdown, famously, snuck up on people. Saddled by a Halo 3 multiplayer beta, everyone assumed it was a bit cack, only for it to be anything but. We loved it.
Crackdown 2 is in danger of pulling the same trick. While original developer Realtime Worlds runs around making APB, upstart Ruffian Games, staffed by various members of the original team, is calmly advancing the openworld toybox idea with new gadgets, refined geometry and an ambitious new mission structure.
We got to see a bit more of that this week courtesy of a new trailer (watch it below in HD), which introduced new Agent abilities, vehicles and the wicked-looking wingsuit.
So, when publisher Microsoft offered us the opportunity to quiz producer James Cope and development director Gareth Noyce about its contents, we jumped at the chance, then sat back down and dug out that adapter thing we use to record phone calls.
Microsoft also said it was cool for us to talk about other stuff, so we did that too, but thanks to the vagaries of embargoes you'll have to make do with trailer stuff today and other topics in part two soon. Don't worry though, we took the piss with the restrictions. Let's crack on.
Eurogamer: What was the goal of the trailer, and what should people be watching out for in terms of new features and reveals when they're watching it?
James Cope: I think the general intention of the trailer was to reinforce the mindless fun aspect of Crackdown [laughs]. It's a core message for us in terms of the way we approach the game. It's just that kind of distracting fun you get - two players, three players, four players, all getting together and diverting themselves to make big explosions and have fun.
In terms of what players can look out for in the trailer, individually there's lots of bits and pieces in there which Crackdown fans will pull out pretty quickly. New Agency vehicles, some new Agent abilities - things like the sprint barge move and the wingsuit. There's lots of stuff there in terms of gadgets, weapons and really it's just introducing a bit of a new gameplay direction for Crackdown in terms of the night-time combat with Freaks.
So there's a lot there really, and that's one of the things about Crackdown. It's a bit of everything. It's very difficult to get that message across in effectively a short trailer [laughs].
Eurogamer: You mentioned the wingsuit. Can you talk a little about that side of the game and how it affects general gameplay?
Gareth Noyce: Yeah, it's one of the new Agent abilities. We toyed around with the idea before on the first game - there was a few things we looked at, even jetpacks, and we wanted to get the wingsuit in. It's falling with style. It allows you to glide so you can do pretty big distances with it, but it's obviously skill-locked, so it's one of the things you'll get later on in the game.
Eurogamer: It reminded me somewhat of a similar thing in Prototype. It seems that there are a lot more of these blow-things-up openworld games than there were in the days of Crackdown 1. Do you feel that your competition's a bit stronger?
Gareth Noyce: Yeah, definitely, but that's a good thing. Crackdown probably picked a niche in the openworld, because obviously [at the start of 2007] it was just GTA and Saints Row, and they both went for the most realistic story-based thing. GTA's cornered the satire side of that market very well. Crackdown was always more than the sum of its parts - it was always about the things you set up, and blowing s*** up was a major part of the first game.
So yeah, Prototype, inFamous, all of those games - they look great, they all bring extra things into the city-based game. I've only played them briefly, but I'm not sure that we're all aligned in that way. I don't think we're all chasing the same thing. Crackdown 2 strikes me as possibly a little more over the top than Prototype. But all of those games are good - the more the merrier really.
Eurogamer: One of the things that set the first game apart for me was the way the city played such a large part in defining its character...
Gareth Noyce: Yeah, it was a character in the game, definitely.