It’s been a long time coming for Crackdown 3, a sequel to one of the Xbox 360’s early games… you know, the one that was bundled with the Halo 3 demo? With its troubled development and Xbox One launch baggage (thanks to the “power of the cloud”) it was always going to be difficult for it to overcome the negative vibes against this new iteration but jumping into the campaign I can say that for better or worse this is still Crackdown and I’m totally OK with that.
Taking place years after the first game, the campaign of Crackdown 3 sees the series superpowered agents on their way to the city of New Providence. Shot out of the sky by the city’s rulers, a sole surviving agent is rescued by the local resistance who need their help. From there your mission is to dismantle the corporation running the city a block at a time. The path you take in achieving that is entirely up to you but with each lieutenant you beat your chances against the rest improves as the impact is felt across the city.
The game’s intro takes advantage of having Terry Crews playing Agent Jaxon (one of the six you can initially choose to play) and he adds a fair bit of swagger to the part. There’s a lot of silliness here; after all this is basically about a special police force that celebrates “skills for kills”. Having more characters beyond just the agency chief (quotable as always) adding their voices and narratives help fill gaps that the world doesn’t explain as clearly. Though New Providence is vast with a decent variety in locales, if you’re expecting it to be some deep clockwork city like GTAV you’re looking at the wrong game. It’s better to think of it more as a giant climbing gym solely for the benefit of the players to create their own stories, with a big serving of chaos.
The gameplay loop for Crackdown is to complete tasks (while killing a LOT of enemies) and boost up your character enough so that you can take on the next harder task. As you succeed you accrue points that go towards leveling up your attributes (agility, strength, explosives, firearms and driving) which eventually get your character to the point of being close to an unstoppable force. In addition there are the series famous orbs to collect around the world that can help boost your levels even faster. One minor annoyance this time is that the orb pings aren’t as noticeable – you used to be able to hear one from a considerable distance in past games. Even with these boosts you still need to give all your talents a run in normal play to make the most of it. Using your fists in combat or your car for travel are not intuitive choices when playing but you’ll miss the advantages they offer if you don’t work to level them up.
Controls haven’t changed too much over the years but how the game responds to you has been tweaked a little. Traversal in the game is a lot easier now but does require players to earn some levels first before the “good stuff” is available. There’s a double jump and air dash (reminds me of Sunset Overdrive) which help a lot in keeping your agent airborne. If you come up short on a big jump your agents can clamber up surfaces for a short distance which makes movement feel more forgiving compared to the previous games. The city’s design feels much more open to agents of different levels being able to tackle it with more handholds and platforms to bounce off but locations that do require a certain agility level (like propaganda towers) are clearly marked on the map.
The campaign length seems fine to me – at the normal difficulty I’m thinking most people will take ten to twelve hours which isn’t too bad. For the completionists though it’ll likely be longer as they chase all one thousand orbs, complete stunt rings in cars and take on race challenges. Achievements are handed out regularly during the game so you’ll see a lot of notifications pop up as you play. In addition to playing the campaign in co-op there’s a new multiplayer mode that’s completely separate. Called “Wrecking Zone” it’s a 5v5 set up in highly destructible levels that let you jump high, smash a lot of stuff and kill a few agents in the process. It’s an interesting idea and the destruction you can create is huge but I can see why it’s not a part of the core game as it feels more like a fun distraction than something that will get long term support. I could be very wrong but at least for me it doesn’t achieve enough at this point.
Overall I’ve really been enjoying Crackdown 3. It’s over eight years since the sequel arrived on the Xbox 360 so anyone who enjoyed the first game on Xbox One backward compatibility will feel right at home here. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it does let you take it out for another spin. 🙂
Crackdown 3 is out now on Xbox One and PC.