We haven't had many opportunities to get our hands on Crackdown 2 up until now, so during a visit to Microsoft's huge booth at E3 2010 today, we made a point of checking out the version of the game that was on display. That version was a generous 30-minute demo that, from what we could gather, will be released publicly at some point before the game's release next month. Interestingly, said demo will let players earn 100 of the game's 1,000 achievement points prior to the game's release, although unlocking all 10 of the achievements will undoubtedly require multiple play-throughs.
The demo didn't feature much in the way of a tutorial and instead threw us straight into a mission to secure a couple of tactical locations (helicopter pads on this occasion) that were overrun by enemies. Our character wasn't leveled up at all, so while he could jump significantly higher and farther than any normal person, he didn't feel especially agile yet. His default weapons were powerful enough to take care of enemies with little trouble, though, even though the lock-on system had a nasty habit of targeting stationary armored vehicles that posed no threat rather than the enemies directly in front of them. Fortunately, the targeting system was also able to lock on to the exploding barrels and such that littered most of the areas enemies were hanging out in.
After securing two of the three helicopter landing areas, we unlocked a second mission that played out in much the same way but required us to instead capture three power generators. Unlike the previous mission, which took place almost entirely at ground level, this one required us to reach the roofs of buildings and made us thankful that we'd taken the time to collect a handful of agility orbs to increase our jumping ability. Jumping and grabbing onto the sides of buildings works in much the way that it did in the first game, though if anything, many of the structures that we encountered were less climber-friendly this time around.
With only about 10 minutes of our 30 remaining, we decided to get into a car (stolen from an enemy faction) and try out a couple of the 15 races that the demo appears to offer. Both were checkpoint affairs that didn't actually involve any opposition, but the presence of traffic and shoot-outs-in-progress on the racing line definitely kept things interesting. The vehicle handling also kept things "interesting" because, presumably as a result of our character's minimal driving skill, the car we were in was extremely twitchy. Fortunately, skills appear to improve pretty quickly, because the game recognizes and rewards even very minor accomplishments--a successful J-turn while driving, for example.
If and when this E3 demo is released publicly, you might find that it's a tough one to put down. Crackdown 2 constantly rewards you with improved skills that make the game more fun, and being able to unlock achievements early is a demo feature that we hope will catch on. Expect more coverage of Crackdown 2 closer to its release in July.