I've said it before, but it bears repeating (at least in terms of giving this post some sort of thematic focus): of my 57,908 Achievement Points, the points I'm most proud of were the 50 I earned for finding all 500 Agility Orbs in the first Crackdown. Yes, I earned them. I didn't use a walkthrough, I didn't cheat; I found all those motherfuckers on my own, and all the hours I spent in doing so were totally worth it.
The hunt for Agility Orbs more than made up for the game's many flaws, and the rewards for leveling up were tangible - Crackdown's Pacific City was made for running around and jumping, and having a maxed out Agility stat meant that running around and jumping was more awesome. In retrospect, I can acknowledge (well, admit) that the first Crackdown was not a particularly good game; it's just that it did this one particular thing exceedingly well, and that one particular thing was so much fun that it kinda became the heart and soul of the game, for me.
And so I pre-ordered Crackdown 2 without thinking twice. You can't put something as addictive as Agility Orbs in a game called Crackdown and not have collection junkies like me foaming at the mouth.
I got my copy yesterday, and guess what? It's almost the exact same game as the first one. This ought not to be too big a deal - hunting Agility Orbs is still fun - but the sense of deja vu is overwhelming, and the game's differences are mostly superficial. More importantly, the game's flaws are much more apparent, especially when compared to games like InFamous; the shooting is janky as hell, the driving is more or less unnecessary (and certainly feels like it was under-designed, as a result), and the city feels somewhat lifeless (which is odd, considering how many people are wandering the streets). Hunting Agility Orbs is pretty much my only real motivation for finishing the game, now, and I'm not entirely sure that I want to "play the actual game" unless I have to, in order to access a new part of the city. This makes me a little sad, frankly. This makes me feel guilty for slogging through a shitty game just so that I can find a new Orb.
My wife was out of town for this past 4th of July weekend, which meant that I had the TV all to myself. And this meant that I could play the hell out of Lego Harry Potter. There's not a lot that needs to be said about this game; if you like the Lego series, this is the best one of the lot. If you're a fan of the movies, you will appreciate this game a lot more than if you're just a fan of the books. If you're totally unfamiliar with the Harry Potter brand, this game will not make any sense, but it's still incredibly approachable and easy and if you're a compulsive collector, you will have a hard time pulling yourself away from it. I decided I'd had enough when I got up to 98% completion; I was never going to find every last character token. But I did get all 200 gold bricks, all 50 students in peril, all 20 red bricks, and the few Achievements I missed are not necessarily that hard to get; if I really need to, I'm sure I can go back and get the full 1,000 without too much trouble.