Crackdown 2 • Page 3

Double agent.

Then, to demonstrate the larger scale potential of the gas cylinders, Cope hops up to the top of a huge industrial chimney and chucks a load of them in the bottom. He throws a few cars on top, lobs in a couple of grenades and retreats to a safe distance. There's a huge bang and a spectacular explosion, followed by a giant cloud of black smoke billowing into the sky. "We loved the fact people used to create loads of daft scenarios and big explosions with Crackdown," Cope says. "With the kind of tools and toys we're giving players now, it's just going to get even more crazy."

Crackdown 2 isn't just about mucking around with new toys (unless you want it to be - this is Crackdown, after all). There's a long list of new missions to complete, and this time around there's not such an emphasis on assassinations. We're shown one of the new missions set in an oil refinery. Four valves have been sabotaged by the Cell, which is preventing the Agency from accessing fuel and chemical supplies. Your mission is to infiltrate the refinery and clean it out of all the supplies you can find. This might turn out to be easier if you have a friend by your side, or perhaps even three - Crackdown 2's co-op mode supports up to four players rather than the previous game's two - but we're not able to see this in action today.

One thing which hasn't changed is the level of freedom you have when it comes to both completing missions and playing co-operatively. "There's nothing to stop you going off and doing your own thing," says Iannetta. "You can go wherever you want to, you can join in, you can split up the tasks... It's absolutely freeform, open gameplay."

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Ruffian has confirmed there are plans for a playable demo - no word on when it'll appear, though.

"The other thing is, we want to make sure the missions have consequences," adds Cope. "With regard to telling the story of Crackdown 2, the missions play a vital part in that. They come together to reveal more about the Agency - we're really learning a lot more about them this time."

As the demo comes to an end, let's see how Ruffian's doing with that checklist. They're clearly aware of the issues with the original Crackdown and are working to fix them. The sequel already looks prettier - lacking polish at this stage perhaps, but according to Cope, "The game's only about 60 per cent done, so we're still heavily in development." There's a new plot, new characters and new weapons. There's still exploration, orb collecting, giant jumps and big bangs. There's a co-op mode for twice as many people as there was before. And there's still 40 per cent to come. Let's just hope that doesn't include any sort of equivalent to Jar Jar Binks.

Crackdown 2 is due out for Xbox 360 in 2010.

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