I precisely remember the first time I ever got knowledge about the Crackdown franchise. It was in a written article on a video game magazine. The very first entry had just launched and I was reading the whole thing, amazed at how great and promising it all looked. Unfortunately, I wasn’t an Xbox 360 owner back then and I could only dream of having the chance to play it someday. It looked just like my favorite game -which is Grand Theft Auto Vice City- but with superpowers.
That was 12 years ago, and now I have the chance to play the original Crackdown on my Xbox One as well as Crackdown 3… Crazy, right?
Genre: Action-adventure, Sandbox
Platforms: Xbox One, Windows 10
Developed by Sumo Digital
Published by Microsoft
Fun goes first in line
Plot wise, no Crackdown game ever took itself seriously but, instead, these games have always relied on humor. This is particularly true when it comes to Crackdown 3, as the main character and visible marketing campaign head is the legendary actor Terry Crews. He does quite a great job with his comical personality and performance. Oh and by the way, besides Terry’s interpretation skills, there’s no other memorable highlight when it comes to acting in this game.
I always avoid spoiling the story so all I will say is that there’s an agency based on a corrupted city, a ton of criminals and some agents ready to fight crime, which sounds like a good starting point… but don’t expect the best plot ever made.
Boom goes the dynamite
Crackdown is pretty similar to the Just Cause franchise when it comes to gameplay. Both feature insane action, a million bullets flying per second, and huge explosions going on, so yeah, Michael Bay approves this mayhem (sorry, but it had to be done). Just think of Crackdown 3 as a comic approach to Just Cause, but trading vehicle variety for orbs and the ultra vast landscape for… Just a big city. As you can imagine, this is only a friendly comparison; it’s clear both have way many differences but, essentially, it’s more or less the same game kind of game, prioritizing fun before anything else.
Both titles share on the negative side of things as well; driving feels dated with a ton of room for improvements and a cover system is urgently needed. But, why is it so urgent?…
ICYMI: Here’s our interview with Agent Bartrom!
…It is because Crackdown 3 legendary difficulty is quite a challenge, especially on Boss Battles. It can get quite overwhelming having so many different enemies shooting at you while you can’t crouch or cover against walls. It’s a bit ridiculous not having a proper cover system… I mean, it does feel unfair, as flying around and dodging isn’t good enough to stop bullets coming for you, and health regeneration is slow for this difficulty intensity. My solution to this was simply to play with camera angles to avoid fire and having enough patience waiting for my health to go up.
As far as orientation goes, the map will guide the player through the different objectives available while also showing points of interests like supply points for both weapons and cars, which later on will be used for fast travel purposes each time you die and need to regenerate. Open world games often please the player with freedom, and that’s no exception here. You are free to pick the next facility you are going to attack, but that freedom slowly disappears when you realize there’s this familiar pattern going on or, in other words, the sense of repetition appears.
The fan-favorite feature is back at full steam; there are a huge number of collectible orbs that will serve as handy power-ups to lead your Agent to max stats. There are also other unlockables such as playable Agents. I particularly like this kind of collectibles in games, which constantly reward the player for exploration while giving the chance to learn locations, or even the full map better. It can be grindy for some, but it actually gives the player a reason to keep constantly moving…
…and talking about moving, platforming plays a huge role in Crackdown 3, and besides the fun factor, it’s the highlight of the game in my opinion. Once the agility has been maxed, the movement feels pretty satisfying, although it isn’t as solid as in other games like, for example, Spider-Man or Attack on Titan 2.
The same old coat of paint
Visually, the art style sticks to the old amazing formula that worked like charm back in the day, but this time around textures lack the proper definition for current standards. It doesn’t look bad, don’t get me wrong, but extra texture resolution doesn’t hurt.
Particle effects and explosions are the real stars of the show here as these really stand out visually.
As far as the sound goes, there are no flaws to be mentioned here; weapons and explosions do have a punch and the soundtrack… It was way better than expected.
A strong bass and a synthesizer melody straight out of the ’80s show up in the main menu, a powerful hymn to get started indeed, while Drum N’ bass fill the rest of the music section.
The ‘Wrecked’ Zone
Probably the one mode with the most potential and the worst execution is multiplayer. As it is currently, I’d advice you to keep seeking orbs until a patch comes out. Yes, I must admit the destruction is real and quite impressive but there’s a severe lack of matchmaking options which heavily lowers down the interest in this mode. It does feel like a Beta instead of a final product, and it would have made sense if it was approached as some other games do, like for example, Red Dead Redemption 2, which states it’s not the final build.
Playing Hide & Seek
Crackdown 3 delays have been both persistent and notorious over the past years, and fans have suffered the development woes. The number of delays has somehow raised expectations by fans over the product since more development means more quality, but these expectations are not met, at least not for a $60 price tag… Luckily there’s Game Pass to save the day.
There’s certainly fun to be had with Crackdown 3, whether if you are a newcomer or a franchise veteran, it doesn’t matter. The game isn’t perfect, but it isn’t bad either; it just suffers from a weak story and a bit of repetitive gameplay… But it’s 100% a Crackdown game, and that’s probably my main concern; no risks were taken, preventing the third entry of the franchise to be, potentially, a console seller. I can’t deny I was hooked at the beginning, despite the slow start; taking down the enemy facilities is enjoyable… until it gets repetitive… Because that’s exactly how it is, repetitive.
Nowadays there’s a trend on games where devs throw a ton of repetitive content just to make the completion time required go up, but that doesn’t mean there’s quality. Games need to evolve, by simply adding new mechanics, by pushing each console capacity to the limit and by breaking boundaries. A rushed development can’t aim for a Game Of The Year nomination, but for an “it’s not bad” award by consumers instead.