It's hard to get an accurate feel for the Rocket Tag online multiplayer mode for Crackdown 2 when every time I try to get a word in edgewise - oh dammit I'm dead.
That's pretty much how my ten minute session of Rocket Tag went down. I slipped into one of the last rounds of multiplayer before the PAX East exhibit hall closed down for the night, settled into one of Microsoft's strange egg-cup deco chairs, and then died repeatedly for 600 seconds.
It wasn't that I wasn't playing right. To the contrary, I was one of the only ones playing right.
In Rocket Tag, you play one of up to sixteen different fully armored super cops, each trying to grab hold of a glowing yellow object known as the orb. "Someone picked up the orb." "The orb has been dropped." You know, that sort of thing. You get points for holding onto the orb, and you also get points for killing the orb carrier. Simple enough, right?
Did I mention everyone is armed with rockets?
There's something about getting a bunch of people together in one room and arming them with high-powered missile launchers that makes them incapable of following directions. It didn't matter if I had the orb. It didn't matter if I wasn't anywhere near the orb. I'm halfway convinced that I could have been in the other booth, playing Hydro Thunder, and they still would have killed me.
From what I could gather from my brief stints as an alive character, the game feels a lot like the original Crackdown, superpowers and all. Players are leaping all over the place, running extremely fast, twisting and firing in midair. It would actually be quite impressive if this particular armored ballet didn't result in me exploding more often than not.
One thing worth mentioning is that while the characters did look reminiscent of Spartans from Halo, the level design and graphics brought to mind Capcom's Bionic Commando multiplayer, oddly bright and colorful.
As my ten minutes drew to a close and the booth reps ushered us off, I managed to die one more time before reluctantly handing over the controller. I eyed my fellow players warily. I wanted to shout at them, "I never had your damn orb!" but I remained reserved.
Turn the other cheek. That's what my mother used to tell me. Turn the other cheek, but remember their faces in case you run into them later.