Review: Crackdown 3
By Sean Booker
March 5, 2019 - 13:58
Studios: Sumo Digital
Rating: M (Mature)
Platform: Xbox One, PC
Players: 1-2 Co-op (Up to 10 competetive)
As a newly regenerated agent you are set off into the towering city of New Providence to jump, smash, and blow to pieces. The beginning of the game is awkward since your character is such a low level. Your jump is mediocre, your speed sucks, the cars’ handling is terrible, etc. Upgrading each skill requires finding different types of orbs over the campaign. Agility orbs are scattered around the map and are easily the best aspect here. Jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper, finding these hidden gems, and unlocking double/triple jumps is a good time. The addition of challenge towers is also a fun platforming task and the game smartly labels each one with the required agility level to complete it. It also has several checkpoints along the way since you will fail these difficult jumps numerous time. When it comes down to it, collecting orbs and leveling your agent up is still a fun time.
The core gameplay from the last two games is still here and remains untouched. The zombies from Crackdown 2 are gone. Agility orbs grant better speed and aerial control. Using explosives and firearms will upgrade those corresponding paths. Just like before, you can also upgrade your melee and driving skills but the game barely needs it. It’s actually easier to just shoot everyone and jump/glide/faster travel around the map. In fact, I probably spent less than 30 minutes in a car during the whole 6-7 hour long campaign. There are timed races and specific vehicle jumps to take part in but they are so ancillary that you will have to seek them out in contrast to progressing the campaign. That being said, when you reach a new level there is still instinctive enjoyment to be had. Watching the small percentages rise until you hear the upgrading ding and see your character flex and explode with power is rewarding. The character progression is as fun as it has always been.
The problem with the campaign is that it never gets deeper than that. There are a few different control points to take over and they repeat time and time again. The gameplay loop consists of jumping to one point, shooting everyone, jumping to the next, rinse and repeat. Side quests are nonexistent and the world feels empty outside of these strongholds to attack. Comparing Crackdown 3 to any other recently released open world game will have it coming up extremely short. It just feels like an old game. The enemies don’t change much and if you have enough explosives you will be able to tackle anything the game throws at you. In fact, the game will start to send enemy units to hunt you down and attack all at once. These are pretty annoying since they take a while to deal with. The result is a lot of the same shallow combat being used for a lengthy period of time. This is the same problem with the boss fights. No strategy is ever needed, you can finish this game by locking onto any enemy and pressing the shoot button. There is no depth to the fighting, no brain power needed, just left-trigger, right-trigger, done.
You can play through the game in co-op but outside that the multiplayer options are depressing. Wrecking Zone is the big draw that Crackdown 3 advertised since its inception. Having destructible environments that are processed “in the cloud” so that all players have the same experience isn’t an awful idea. However, the environments aren’t fully destructible and it’s not evident which buildings are vulnerable to begin with. The modes are basically team deathmatch or king of the hill and the same combat from the campaign is prevalent. This means the lock-on shooting makes these gun fights extremely odd. The game shows when someone is targeting you and running away/breaking line of site is your only hope. This leads to weird jump focused battles that are hard to deal with since everyone can jump three times in the air and glide three or four times. The minute you start attacking someone they’re already halfway across the map. It’s worth noting that you can’t even group up with a friend for either of these competitive modes. Wrecking Zone comes across as an awkward addition to the game (that for some reason has its own executable from the Xbox One’s menu). It feels more like something that needed to be in the game since it was advertised so long ago.
Crackdown 3 comes across as junk food. There are some short-lived highs but it’s quickly forgettable. It’s the mediocre summer blockbuster that you see once, enjoy the explosions, and move on to bigger and better things. The mission structures aren’t varied and they get repetitive immediately. The combat is shallow and doesn’t require any real thought. Upgrading your character is still a good time and jumping around the map hunting orbs is as fan as it used to be. It’s a game from a past era that didn’t seem to grow up with the rest of this genre. There is fun to be hard here but it’s fleeting.