The long-delayed Crackdown 3 has finally arrived. But was it worth the wait?
Crackdown 3, the threequel to the original 2007 comic-book inspired game was first announced at E3 2014. Originally due for release in 2015, the date was pushed back every year until now, almost five years later.
The original Crackdown is a great game. It was ahead of its time. With cool cel-shaded graphics, before they became cliched, a massive futuristic open-world and glorious vertical gameplay, Crackdown was a breath of fresh air for Xbox 360 gamers.
Crackdown 2 was more of the same, but, most of us had moved on to other much cooler games by then. Unfortunately, the same could also be said for Crackdown 3.
As a Microsoft Play Anywhere title, a digital purchase of the game nets you both the Xbox One and Windows 10 PC version of Crackdown 3. Your saves synch, so you can pick up and play the game on PC from where you left it on Xbox One. Xbox Game Pass owners will find Crackdown 3 available to play free-of-charge as part of their subscription.
Crackdown 3 casts you as an agent, a super-human law enforcer on the hunt for the person responsible for the death of your team. Unfortunately, the same incident that wiped out your fellow agents also did such a number on you, all your skills and training have reset. You are going to need some kills for skills. Every bad guy you dispatch, every side mission you complete, adds to your skills.
And then there’s orbs. Green agility orbs make you faster and able to jump higher. Collecting orbs is as addictive as it ever was. Just as you are relishing in collecting a seemingly impossible orbs, out of you the corner of your eye you see another, just out of reach, but surely obtainable somehow.
You can play as a number of different agents, including one played by ultra-dynamic, former NFL player and star of Brooklyn-Nine-Nine, Terry Crews. Terry has been hyping this game by the motherload for years in videos and adverts, so it’s great to finally step into the big mans shoes and cause some mayhem.
The sandbox environment gives you loads of opportunity to blow stuff up, smash stuff up and shoot stuff up. And I’d be lying if I said that there’s no fun in it. It’s just, well, the Crackdown franchise is a bit of a one-trick pony and, to be honest, we saw the best it had to offer a decade ago.
The city of New Providence is sterile, a bland, detail-less metropolis full of cookie-cutter buildings. Compared to the likes of Grand Theft Auto V’s Los Santos or even Seoul in Agents of Mayhem, it looks very last-gen. It’s also not very big. For a game that has been in development since the dawn of time, I expected Crackdown 3 to be so much more than a reskinning of an eleven-year-old game.
As you climb higher and the bland ground level blurs into the distance, the city starts to look a bit more impressive. Like a cutdown version of Judge Dredd’s Mega-City One.
There’s zero story. Crackdown 3 is basically made up of the side missions that the folks at Ubisoft like over-fill their games with. You blow up some stuff, fight a boss. Activate a thing, capture the area. Rinse and repeat.
As you collect those orbs your character upgrades, but with very little fanfare, making the advancement a little underwhelming at first. In time, though, your agent develops super-human abilities that really start to open the game up. The grind, however, will put most players off long before things get interesting.
The same with your agency vehicle and your driving skills. The game has players literally jumping through hoops for vehicular upgrades. Yes, there’s fun to be had, but you can get better thrills and spills elsewhere. To be honest, Crackdown 3 was outsandboxed years ago by the Just Cause Franchise.
You can play the campaign in co-op, which adds a lot to the social aspect of the game. Jumping around and blowing stuff up is twice the fun with others.
What about the multiplayer mode, Wrecking Crew? We all saw that awesome video at E3 1972 or whenever they first announced Crackdown 3. Crazy city-wide destruction so intense that it needed Microsoft’s Azure servers to remotely handle the load.
The reality of Wrecking Crew looks like something out of a Steam Early Access game. Instead of tumbling buildings we have a weird Tron-like arena with wall that crack unrealistically and huge pillars that fall down in an impressive, but pointless way.
Whilst it is most definitely not the multiplayer game we were hyped up with at Gamescom in 2015, Wrecking Crew is not without its charms. The vertical multiplayer action is pretty intense, reminding me of the low-g rocket launcher deathmatches in the original Unreal Tournament. There is a lot of be said for blowing a hole in a wall to get your opponent- even if we’ve been doing exactly that for years in Battlefield.
But, no, the multiplayer doesn’t save this game.
Crackdown 3 is entertaining enough, and the multiplayer is fun as well, but this is not what players should be expecting from a game that’s taken so long in development. Xbox owners that subscribe to Game Pass will find the game there for them to play for free, which is nice. But I can’t really recommend Crackdown 3 to anyone but real die-hard fans of the series.