High up in the Ottawa skyline, GamingExcellence was given an exclusive hands on preview with the latest build of Crackdown 2, the anticipated sequel to the original, climb anything, blow everything up, kookfest that was the original title.

In the original game, you played as a power armoured tool of the law as you went around blowing up enemies and climbing buildings in a wide open sandbox world that was just as expansive vertically and it was horizontally. The second game continues this trend, but with everything cranked up to insane levels.

A realistic interpretation of modern law enforcement this is not. Right when you start the tutorial, you can already leap three times your own height, take tons of damage, and fly off high ledges with nary a scratch. This time around, ten years later, a virus has been released into Pacific City, turning innocent people into bloodthirsty freaks. If that wasn't enough, the city is being overrun by gang members with an axe to grind.

Not long after the tutorial, you're dumped into the city and have the freedom to go anywhere and blow up pretty much anything. Your objective in the game is to eliminate gang hideouts and take back the city one block at a time. These battles are epic, with lots of enemies and compatriots going all out against each other. Once the areas are safe (or even if they're not, provided you're the adventurous type), you can explore the areas to find orbs to upgrade your character.

Anyone who played the original will tell you that collecting orbs and powering up your character was the most addictive part of that game, so collection fiends will have a field day with the sequel. While you begin the game like a puny everyman with sweet power armour, collect enough orbs and you can upgrade tons of aspects of your character, including agility, jumping, driving, shooting, and melee attacks. Exploration is rewarded as the harder to reach orbs provide a bigger upgrade than ones simply found on street level. As players level up their characters, they'll also get a visual upgrade until their character looks so badass that Chuck Norris would hide in a corner in fear.

While we only had about a half hour of playtime with the game, we were impressed with the sense of scale and how much square mileage is represented. While we weren't able to wring an exact number out of Jeff Rivait, our friendly liaison in Pacific City, its clear that there will be lots to see and blow up through out the playtime.

Weapons run a gamut from the awesome, bizarre, and improvised. You have your standard shotguns and assault rifles, to the weird UV gun and harpoon guns. Finally, if your ammo runs out, the mayhem certainly does not. You can grab a plethora of items from the environment, including dumpsters, cars, and bus stops for use of weapons. It's goofy yet quite satisfying to knock a punk out with a flying bus shelter.

Further completing the package is a fully featured multiplayer mode, which includes four player co-op over Xbox Live. Unfortunately, we couldn't get any denial or confirmation of splitscreen multiplayer, but judging from the size of the environments, it seems unlikely.

The graphics were solid, but nothing extraordinarily mindblowing. It's clear that the engine is spending more horsepower with the draw distance and expansive environments instead of heavy polygon counts. At the same time, this graphical style meshes very well with the cartoonish gameplay.

Developer Rufian Games (made up of many staffers from the original developers) has taken what worked in the first game, and made some natural enhancements. It's not a revolution of the original formula. We came away impressed with the kinetic gameplay in our short playtime, but it remains to be seen whether the game can sustain the excitement through a full campaign. We'll find out for sure when the game is released July 6th.