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Crackdown 2 pulled off BioShock’s twist better

What have I done?

Clayton Ashley , senior video editor, has been producing and editing videos for Polygon since 2016. He is the lead producer of the tabletop gaming series Overboard.

Crackdown 2 is not a game a lot of people think about. But I do.

I don’t really think about the gameplay, which was a forgettable retread of the first game, or the brown, smudgy graphics that epitomize so much of the era’s edgy “next-gen” look. I think about the story.

[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Crackdown, Crackdown 2, and BioShock.]

A still from a Crackdown 2 Pacific City Archives marketing video
Xbox / Microsoft

Crackdown 2 is a game where it turns out you were the bad guy all along. This isn’t the explicit story, but a secret one, told only in hidden audio logs.

If you played the first Crackdown to completion, you’d know that the game ends with a wild twist: The good guys are actually bad guys. In fact, they’re super bad guys, since they secretly funded the bad guys you were fighting as an excuse to cause chaos and take over the city for themselves.

On its surface, Crackdown 2 doesn’t pick up on that story thread. If you didn’t play the first game, you might not even pick up on the fact that the people you work for are actually evil. The story the game does tell you is really just a big lie. A lie that extends beyond the game and into its marketing and presentation.

Which reminds me of another game with a big twist: BioShock. This game also misleads you into working for the villain. And then it rubs your face in it: How foolish you were to listen to a video game’s instructions!

Crackdown 2 doesn’t bother with the illusion that you had some choice in the matter. It uses this trope in a different way. I made the video above not just because I couldn’t stop thinking about the story in Crackdown 2, but because I think it actually uses BioShock’s twist better.

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