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Like Grand Theft Auto, but you're a cop and you have super powers.

"You are authorized to use whatever means you feel is necessary to remove the filth from the streets."

An open world, third-person shooter video game for the Xbox 360, Crackdown was for a time, famous for being the game you had to buy in order to get into the Halo 3 beta.

The game takes place in the fictional metropolis of Pacific City, whose several districts and areas are divided among four islands. The city is controlled by three crime organizations: Los Muertos, of Central American origin; an Eastern European gang, the Volk; and the formerly above-the-books Shai-Gen Corporation, from East Asia. Normally, a police-like organization called the Peacekeepers kept the city under control; their forces, however, were overwhelmed by the sudden rise in crime.

The city, therefore sought additional help from "the Agency," an organization that, in addition to outfitting and supporting Peacekeepers, has used advanced surgical and cybernetic technology to create Super Soldiers known as "Agents." The Agency is based out of a former hotel in the very center of the city. The player takes on the role of one of their Agents, and is tasked with systematically bringing down all three organized gangs, while keeping both the populace and Peacekeepers safe. The Agent's actions are continuously monitored by the Agency, and its Director (voiced by Michael McConnohie) provides continuous reports to him of his progress.

Crackdown was met positive reviews. What was particularly liked was how your Agent levelled up. The Agent's five abilities, agility, firearms, strength, explosives, and driving, increase in power when you use them and unlock more cool stuff for you to use. For instance if you beat up a bunch of people you eventually get stronger and can lift heavy objects, or if you perform well in driving missions you get cooler cars. The ability people enjoyed most though was agility, which you filled up by collecting orbs on rooftops that made you faster and jump higher. So by the end of the game you go from a regular guy to a super cop who jumps effortlessly from rooftop to rooftop. And goddamn was it addictive collecting those orbs and jumping around.

The sequel was released on July 6th, 2010. Ten years have passed since the last game and the Agency faces two new problems. CELL is an anti-Agency group armed to the teeth that has taken over parts of Pacific City that attacks during the day. At night the streets are filled with hundreds of fast zombies called "Freaks" that attack everything. A new Agent has to take back the parts of the city controlled by CELL during the day, and clean out the Freak nests at night with the help of a new weapon called Project Sunburst.

Crackdown 2 was not as well liked as its predecessor. Everyone was upset that the game took place in an exact copy of Pacific City from the first game, except the city was rundown instead of bright and vibrant. And the fun Storming the Castle missions were replaced with repetitive king of the hill games. Plus, fighting members of La Résistance with legitimate complaints was just not the same as taking out gangmembers, nor was killing zombies that you could kill with a single punch.

This game series contains examples of the following:

  • Anti-Hero: The Agent that the player controls can fall into this. By the second game it's gone straight past Type V and on into Villain Protagonist.
  • Art Major Physics: The initial energy field that spreads outwards from the activation of the Tower Beacon causes every object in the cutscene not securely attached to the ground to float upwards. Cars, rocks, Freaks, everything.
    • Also, the UV Shotgun and Grenades still send moveable objects flying, even though they fire blasts of concentrated light, lethal to Freaks, but not normal humans. It sends Humans flying too, which in itself can turn out to be fatal.
  • Ascended Glitch: The ability of the Agency SUV to drive up walls? That's a bug. It was kept in because it was really fun and wasn't a Game Breaker.
  • The Atoner: Some of Crackdown 2's audio logs mention a high-ranking former Agency employee who's working with Cell.
  • Awesome but Impractical: There's really nothing you can do with lifting and throwing heavy objects that you can't do more efficiently with explosives or firearms or just punching everyone.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The Agency definitely counts.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The Agency, and especially its Director.
  • Boring but Practical: The "UV Shotgun" is basically a really big flashlight.
  • Brick Joke: Upon climbing the Agency Tower in the first game the Director will cheerfully inform the Agent, "I can see my house from up here." In the second game, the same act gets a just as cheerful quip, "I can see the charred remains of my house from up here."
  • Broken Bridge: Averted in the first game. The entire city is open right from the start, but the numerous gangs that might attack you are supposed to encourage the player to go after one gang at a time.
  • Captain Obvious: In addition to his annoying Jerkass quips, the director will state "You did <insert remarkable action here>, that's worth an achievement!" while you get an achievement.
  • Car Fu: The player is at times, encouraged to use vehicles as a weapon, in addition to improving their driving skills. In addition to the standard form of vehicular homicide, when your agent becomes powerful enough, you can wait until your enemy exits their car (on the opposite side from you) and then immediately kick it into their face. Sadly, the enemy AI have 1337 car-dodging skillz, so running them over is much harder than it should be.
    • When your driving skills are fully maxed, the Agency cars become really killer: the Supercar has guns and can drive under almost any other car, the SUV OVER any car (and most flat surfaced buildings and terrain), and the truck, as long as you don't go off-road, can maintain a high speed in opposing traffic indefinitely.
    • In the sequel, at least, it is difficult but possible to turn the supercar or buggy into a saw, sending it in a wild spin down any given street. The result is a trail of blood and screams.
    • The sequel gives you streets positively heaving with mutants at night, so it becomes far easier to net some kills via car.
  • The Cartel: Los Muertos
  • Clean Up the Town: Deconstructed with vengeance. Instead of improving the state of Pacific City, the Agent's actions instead pave the way for the rise of totalitarian state.
    • It does happen visually though with the streets becoming tidier as each gang is defeated.
  • Cool Car: The three main Agency vehicles, which evolve alongside the Agent's skills. The Agency Supercar goes from a nice-looking muscle car to a Batmobile Expy with machine guns and blinding speed. The Agency SUV becomes a monster truck with improbable handling skills. As for the Agency Truck...
  • Cool Gun: Nearly the entire arsenal is a wonder to use, comprising everything from Hand Cannons to Roboteching Macross Missile Massacres and More Dakka.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The Shai-Gen leader is the biggest normal example of this. After you learn the Director's true intentions at the end, he could count as this too, which is confirmed by the second game.
  • Crap Saccharine World: What you help to set up in Crackdown. A beautiful, safe, clean totalitarian dictatorship.
  • Crapsack World: In Crackdown 2, mutants overrun the streets at night, the Agency has lost all control again, the civilians are rebelling, the agent cloning program was sabotaged, and the city looks like a tornado hit it. As the director once said: "It's all gone to shit."
    • The intro to the original; the world is said to be anarchic. The Agency is allegedly a union of various police units around the world, and by the start of the game, really only maintain control over their headquarters.
  • Cut and Paste Environments: Totally averted. The game may have no plot, but you could definitely make a case for saying that the city itself is a character, with no two buildings or neighborhoods alike.
  • Darker and Edgier: The first game is bright and colorful, and it seems right up until the end that you're working for the good guys. The sequel takes place in a half-ruined, smoldering city with a perpetual grey sky and a severe zombie problem, and it becomes clear much sooner that the Agency's up to no good.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mission control guy is this at certain points.
  • Death Is a Slap on The Wrist: When the player dies, they simply regenerate at the last visited Supply Point. This does impair the player a bit if they are deep in a gang's hideout though.
  • Diegetic Interface: The Director refers to columns of light and other things visible in the game as being part of a graphical interface attached to the Agent's eyes.
  • The Dragon: The Agent to the Director.
  • Earth Shattering Flash of Light: The final beacon.
  • Elite Mooks: You get to play as one!
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness:
    • The Agency HQ Tower, the tallest building in the city, rises from the island at the middle of the map. Also, the Shai-Gen mastermind and his top lieutenant dwell atop their own massive towers; the Agent must fight his way up from the ground floor to the penthouse (though he can use adjacent buildings to skip the entire lower half of Shai-Gen boss' tower.)
    • By Crackdown 2, the Agency has built the Hope Tower in unity heights, as tall as the Agency Tower.
  • Evolving Attack:
    • To a degree, the Agent's improved jumping and melee attacks, and more so, the improved weaponry the Agent can procure both from the nearest safehouse, and off of dead enemies.
    • The three agency vehicles are also notable; their handling improves the higher the player's driving skill is. Once the player maximizes their driving skill, they gain Bond-style special abilities.
    • The game actually calls the Agent's ability to upgrade himself "evolution" and as you progress, his armor subtly transforms from something very light to a huge power suit as the man himself becomes huge and muscular. The transition is so gradual, though, you likely won't notice it until you replay the game after beating it. Alternately, you could always just flip through the various stages of armor evolution in Keys to the City mode.
  • Fastball Special: You can use a variant in multiplayer. Have one Agent stand on top of a car driven by the other Agent. The latter deliberately drives into the barricades blocking a reinforced position, flinging the former into the fray.
  • Game Breaking Bug:
    • It has happened that the island's geometry sometimes either fails to load or spontaneously ceases to exist, dropping the player and all objects into the ocean.
    • In Crackdown 2, some Cell soldiers have grenade launchers. Getting hit with several of these at once causes the game to lag tremendously, and if a large Freak knocks you down, the Agent has quite a bit of trouble getting back up. It can be annoying if you're guarding a beacon or trying to recapture territory.
  • Generic Ethnic Crime Gang: Los Muertes are The Cartel, the Volk are The Mafiya, and Shai-Gen are the Yakuza crossbred with Evil, Inc..
  • Grey and Grey Morality: You play the genetically-enhanced supercop running around shutting down gangs, which makes you unambiguously the good guy, right? Wrong. Turns out, the Agency covertly sponsored the three gangs, letting Pacific City get to the point of ruin, only to (ahem) crack down on them with the Agents, giving them control of the area in question. They also plan to do this in other cities until they own the world.
  • Hero Antagonist: Catalina Thorne and The Cell.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Agent throwing himself into Catalina's helicopter to stop her is a bizarre inversion of this, considering Catalina is the most outright heroic character in the series and the Agent is effectively just a Superpowered Mooks. Since the Agent can be resurrected as necessary, however, it's questionable how much of a sacrifice his death is.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Played straight with the Director. He's normally The Voice, but they show him several times in the opening cinematic for Crackdown 2... but we never see his face.
  • Hide Your Children: Only adults reside within Pacific City.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The HRX Harpoon gun which... shoots harpoons. Agents are encouraged to pin whole gangs of criminals to their car, but nail them to a wall and they can work as stepping stones.
  • In a Single Bound: As in many other free-roamers with superpowers, you can jump incredibly high once you get your agility levels up. It gets to the point you don't really need a car anymore.
  • In Universe Game Clock: The game can go from day to night in roughly 20 minutes of real-time in Crackdown, but it only takes around 15 minutes in Crackdown 2 due to the addition of the mutants.
  • Jerkass: The Director, who is an endless font of uncaring or outright demeaning snark. For example, he makes fun of you when you catch on fire.
  • Knight Templar: The Agent is made out to be one.
  • La Résistance: The Cell is a pro-democracy terrorist organization that function as one of the primary antagonists of Crackdown 2. Overlaps with Hero Antagonist.
  • Law of Cartographical Elegance: Pacific City is essentially one giant island, broken up into 3 parts; four if you count the tiny Agency HQ situated in the middle.
  • Le Parkour: One of the defining features of this game. The Agent's Agility stat enables him to leap ludicrous distances, hang from ledges, run across rooftops, and basically make the city his own with his superhuman mobility. Very few players bother using cars as anything other than blunt weapons.
  • Light'Em Up: In Crackdown 2, Freaks are nocturnal and are terribly Weakened by the Light. Your goal is to turn on as many light-generating devices as possible to wipe them all out, and in the meantime, you have a few "UV" weapons specifically designed to annihilate Freaks but spare humans.
  • Lighthouse Point: The Agency's HQ serves as this (complete with rotating light), while another literal lighthouse serves as the headquarters for a Los Muertos boss.
  • Lightning Bruiser: By the time the Agent's skills are fully maxed, he counts, especially in the sequel. They run fast enough to keep pace with many vehicles (and in 2 gain the ability to plow straight through oncoming traffic), can lift and throw heavy objects with ease, and are able to resist quite a lot of ordinance and rapidly heal any damage taken.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: In Crackdown 2, if you ram a civilian or peacekeeper at high speed with a vehicle, or if you ground-strike them, they will explode into gallons of blood. This occurs even if said ground strike began only a foot above them and was moving no more than 5 mph.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The MSK Lobber fires up to five homing mini-rockets in close succession; it's absurd enough to allow Agents to juggle targets (people, mutants, cars) in the air for several seconds... which is exactly the point — there's even Achievements for it.
  • Mad Scientist: One of the Shai Gen's priority targets is a crazy geneticist whose hideout is overrun with mutants. Additionally, the Agency used his work to create the Agents.
  • The Mafiya: The Volk
  • Mega Corp: The Shai-Gen Corporation and the Agency.
  • Mission Control: The Director serves as this in both games.
  • More Dakka: Guess.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Some players may react this way to the ending.
  • New Era Speech: At the end of the first game, the Director gives the Agent a speech.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Thanks to the player killing the above Mad Scientist, the Pacific City of the second game is menaced by virus-infected creatures let loose from his labs. Oh, and ushering in a police state was probably also not nice.
  • No Name Given: You are simply "the Agent".
  • No Plot, No Problem: Crackdown has no plot. It has a premise, then kicks you into it and tells you to go nuts. There are no hard missions and no cutscenes to speak of other than briefing videos (and "this neighborhood is clean!" victory videos, which are mostly just pans over the existing city while the narrator talks more).
  • Notice This: Gang members have little icons above them to make them stand out against civilians, cars shimmer for a moment when your aiming reticule points at them, and power ups (Hidden Orbs) not only glow, but also make a distinctive noise when you get close.
  • Oh Crap: A Freak gives this expression when all the beacons are lit.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Subverted to a degree. You can be as vicious as you want to the gangs, but if you start attacking civilians and/or Peacekeepers, you'll get reprimanded and lose a small amount of experience points, plus any Peacekeepers that saw it will shoot at you. If you go on a total rampage, you'll eventually get a "wanted level" and the Peacekeepers will start seriously attacking you. They're slightly less useless when trying to kill you than they are trying to help you, mainly because of unexpectedly high respawn rate, but since their weapons still suck they aren't nearly as big a threat as the gangs. Then they'll back off if you hide on a rooftop for a while.
  • Police Are Useless: The entire point of creating the Agents is that the peacekeepers cannot stop the gangs themselves.
    • Gets worse in the second, where they only have Assault Rifles. Said Assault Rifles are the weakest ones in the game.
  • Police Brutality: The player can fall into this depending on how much carnage they feel like causing. This is also visible with fellow Peacekeepers when they attack the gangs alongside the player, cheering and beating down on gang members.
  • Power-Up Magnet: The tiny orbs, that act as XP, are innately drawn to the player. The larger ones still have to be found normally.
  • Ragdoll Physics: The fate of those who meet the wrong end of a machine gun. You can even ragdoll while still alive, if you're hit by an explosive or car.
  • Removable Turret Gun: In Crackdown 2, when the player reaches high Strength levels, turrets can be torn off and fired manually.
  • Real Is Brown: Averted by the bright and colorful first game. Played somewhat straighter by the Darker and Edgier sequel.
  • Respawning Enemies: Typically, gang members will respawn over time until you kill their leader, and even then there will be some remaining. An achievement is awarded when you finally take them all down.
  • Red Shirt Reporter: In the sequel, a female reporter comments on the Freaks that are over-running the city at night. She is of course instantly pounced upon by one.
  • Roundhouse Kick: One of the standard melee attacks.
  • RPG Elements: The player can collect Hidden Orbs to increase either their jumping / running ability, or everything at once in small increments. Using weapons and driving cars also contributes to an increase in skills. Crackdown 2 offers more levels of customization.
  • Rule of Cool: Be honest, if you were in law enforcement, you wouldn't get to have a harpoon gun in your standard loadout. In the sequel, there's a shotgun that fires sunlight.
  • Sequel Hook: Crackdown 2 ends with one. See The Stinger, below.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Given its roots with Grand Theft Auto, the game gives a few winks and nudges to them, among other things.
    • One of the alternate skin in Crackdown 2 is called "Gun Metal". Though that is an actual term for color, it could be seen as a nod to the game Gun Metal, which was developed by Rage Software. A lot of Rage employee went on to form Realtime Worlds (the developers of the first Crackdown) after Rage went bankrupt.
    • Some of the pedestrians aren't even supposed to be here today.
    • One of the quotes the Director can throw at you when you fail to capture a Strategic Location in the Sequel is "The assault on this Strategic Location is aborted. Come back and try again when you grow a pair!"
    • A couple of pedestrians call the Agent Superman.
  • Soft Water: Despite their superhuman strength and endurance, Agents can suffer severe injury from falling from great altitudes... unless they splash into the water, which is entirely harmless. This is even used for an Achievement.
  • The Stinger: In the sequel, after the credits roll, one final cutscene shows that Catalina Thorne survived her crash and is cheerfully doing something with a hand from the Agent. Trying to recreate the virus? Or clone an Agent for herself?
  • Stuff Blowing Up: So very much, because you are equipped with grenades at the beginning, get a rocket launcher early on, and there are Explosive Barrels everywhere.
  • Super Soldiers: By the end of the game, your agent can leap tall buildings In a Single Bound, runs faster than most vehicles, and can effortlessly carry and throw cars.
  • Take Your Time: The gang leaders can be eliminated at the player's casual discretion, with only the occasional reminder from the Director to let you know that, yes, the gangs need to be taken down.
    • Likewise in the sequel you can let CELL and the Freaks run wild without any trouble while you dally.
  • The Tetris Effect: You'll imagine seeing green orbs everywhere on buildings, monuments... and that pulsing hum they make will haunt you for days after you've stopped playing.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The Agent. The Agency's plan involved running the law enforcement of the world into the ground, allowing complete anarchy, so they could step in and take over the world as a totalitarian government — which they do, now that you've been so polite as to take out the gangs for them. Some think the action montage ends with the Agent shooting the Director — this has definitely been Jossed by Crackdown 2.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: It's there and readily available for your exploitation.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: If you kill civilians or peacekeepers, you get docked some XP, though the amounts are small enough that it doesn't make much difference.
  • Villain Protagonist: The Agency would be the bad guys in most games. Taken to extremes in the sequel, where you play as the primary agent of a repressive police state fighting to suppress a ragtag band of plucky freedom fighters, which is pretty much a total inversion of a fairly common video game plot.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Agency. They want to look good to the people, so they trust them. So if you screw with civilians, they'll take you out. Of course they're only playing goody-two-shoes until they Take Over the World...
  • What the Hell, Hero?: The Director does this to you if you cause too much collateral damage.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The game is basically Judge Dredd WITH SUPERPOWERS!
  • Wide Open Sandbox: The scale of the city lends itself well to this.
  • With This Herring:
    • Thoroughly averted in the first game — the player starts off with an assault rifle with an adjustable scope, access to the best vehicles in the game, the ability to jump ten feet straight up while standing still, and the strength to rip a car door off its hinges... and everything goes up from there. Of course, given that you eventually become The Incredible Hulk with a missile launcher and a Batmobile, it's hard not to feel underpowered when you replay the game from the beginning.
    • Played straight in the sequel, which starts you off with access to a standard-issue Peacekeeper cruiser and the most budget SMG and shotgun the Agency could find — even weaker than the SMGs and shotguns on the street, in the hands of the Cell.
  • Zerg Rush: The favored tactic of Freaks in Crackdown 2.