Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Crackdown 2 took Bioshock's twist and did it better

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you may remember it as an over-the-top power fantasy,

a frenetic collect-a-thon,

or maybe just the game you had to buy to get the Halo 3 beta early.

But do you remember

the twist?

The last second, complete inversion of all the games propaganda?

The story in the first Crackdown is simple: youre a super cop, working for a global

paramilitary policing organization known asThe Agency.”

Youre tasked byThe Director"

with saving Pacific City from three powerful gangs.

This is war.

A war on crime.

Except thats not what really happened.

At the very end of the game, in a case of tonal whiplash,

The Director chuckles like a super villain.

'chuckling like a villain about to reveal their master plan'

"It's taken years of meticulous planning and patience to reach this stage"

And suddenly, we learn...

The Agency was funding the super gangs

The Agency made the police ineffective on purpose...

"The people had to experience absolute anarchy"

"Before they would accept unconditional control."

"You are the portent of a new world order, agent."


Okay, so it turns out you were the bad guy all along.

Bioshock did this like ten times better,

when it poked gamers in the eye by pointing out

that theyll mindlessly do whatever a video game tells them to do.

But then, Crackdown 2 came along.

If you skipped Crackdown 1, you wouldnt go in knowing that the Agency is evil.

No one else in the game seems to know!

Ten years later, the super gangs are gone.

But Pacific City is still in rough shape thanks to a completely new threat: mutants.

And its all because of the former Agency scientist turned bioterrorist

Catalina Thorne.

Fired for conducting unauthorized experiments on homeless people,

she sabotages the Agent program in realiation

and unleashes a mutant virus on the populace.

As one of the last remaining Agents, you need to activate the Agencys anti-mutant bombs

before the terrorists can destroy them!

Except.... that was a lie.

What actually happened is so wild, I need to break it down in steps:


The Agency invites a bunch of anti-Agency whistleblowers and Pacific City journalists

to a press conference.

And blows them up!

The Agency blames the attack on terrorists.


Catalina Thorne, actual good person,

volunteers at an event to bring medical care to homeless people...

when mutants, left over from one of Pacific Citys super gangs,

kill almost everyone.

The Agency blames this on wild animals.


As pressure grows to deal with the mutants,

Thorne leads protests calling for an antidote.

Instead, the Agency blames her for making the mutants in the first place, claiming that

she infected homeless people with the virus.


They just wall off the infected part of the city.


Also, they do create an antidote,

but secretly,

and they only use it on their own Agents.

But its flawed and takes away their superhuman abilities

So what do they do?

They blame Thorne again and accuse her of sabotaging the program!


To fully turn the public against Thorne, the Agency sends undercover police to instigate

violence at her peaceful protests.


They install the anti-mutant sun burst weapon,

which is actually just an anti-personnel weapon

designed to instantly kill anyone who might oppose the agency...

and keep everyone else in line.


Thorne justifiably decides this must be prevented at all costs,

Her attack on the bombs are the final stroke in the Agencys master plan,

and the perfect opportunity

to deploy its new agents against her and her organization.

AND THIS is just where Crackdown 2 starts!

Okay, first things first,



The wildest thing is that you can easily play and beat Crackdown 2 without ever learning

an ounce of this.

Thistrue storyof Crackdown 2 is completely contained within a series of hidden audio

"Undercover peacekeepers are infiltrating your gatherings to initiate violence."

Heres what I think:

This isnt just a good use of BioShocksjust kidding, youre the bad guytrope.

Its actually better than BioShocks.

In Bioshock, its revealed that your character has been brainwashed

to obey orders by the games villain.

"Would you kindly lower that weapon for a minute"

You see, foolish player?

You followed the game objectives without question!

You're just a sheep!

After this revelation, you finally get a chance to make your own choices!

Well, actually its just one choice,

the same choice youve had throughout the game:

whether youll consume or save the Little Sisters.

"You think that's a child down there?"

Of course, consuming them seems evil before

this twist and is definitely evil after, so the twist doesnt really change that.

And even before the twist, youre probably already locked yourself into the good or bad ending.

And either way, you still have to kill the end boss.

But like,

free will man.

Crackdown 2 doesnt bother with the illusion of choice

There is one way to play and beat the game: work for the bad guy, most likely

completely oblivious to the fact that theyre the bad guy..

Theres never a record scratch moment, where the game wags a finger at the audience and says




In Crackdown 2, if you want to know whats going on,

you have to ask that question.

Microsoft certainly doesnt help:

it made a five-part series of YouTube videos telling only the Agencys version of the story.

"This person poses the greatest threat Pacific City has ever faced:

Catalina Thorne

i.e. propaganda

So its on you to investigate whats really going on.

To question authority.

No, you cant do anything about it. And the game doesnt pretend you have a choice.

Just like in BioShock, the ending is essentially prescriptive.

Whether or not you save the little sisters, you still kill Fontaine.

You blow up the mutants...

and the Agency takes controls of the city.

You have no choice.

It reminds me of one of my favorite films, Starship Troopers.

This subversive take on the Heinlein novel

presents itself as a propaganda film produced by the very military its depicting.

"I'm doing my part!"

"I'm doing my part!"

"I'm doing my part!"

"I'm doing my part too!"

"Forced laughter"

Thats what the Crackdown series is doing:

advertising itself as a frenetic explosion-fest where you jump over buildings

and chuck cars at bad guys.

"or even bust out my very own tank!"


But we know whats really going on.

Its so much mindless fun, its almost

as if its asking you not to think about why.

In terms of gameplay and storytelling methods, BioShock and Crackdown 2 are miles apart.

But when it comes to this specific trope, which story is more relevant?

A critique of objectivism married to a philosophical question about free will in video games?

Or how far a paramilitary police force will go to stifle dissent and control our society?

"I pity anyone who stands in our way!"

The Description of Crackdown 2 took Bioshock's twist and did it better