Crackdown 3 Review
Reviewed by @spitfire_spud
Crackdown was always a game that I loved playing and when it first released in 2007, it was bundled along with the Halo 3 BETA. I was probably one of the few gamers who bought Crackdown for the game itself and not to try out Halo 3 early. I was instantly hooked straight away and loved every minute of it. This wasn’t due to how compelling the story was or how realistic the game looked no, it was how much fun it was to play. Running and jumping about in a fictitious city that was basically your playground. You played a super enhanced law enforcer or Agent that was tasked to clean up your city.
While the story was nothing more than an afterthought, it was the gameplay that would keep you coming back for more. From being able to throw about criminals and cars at sheer will to being able to jump over tall buildings thanks to those tantalising green Agility orbs. Those green orbs were what made your Agent faster and more agile that would let you run/jump about your city like a super-hero. The game almost teased or dared you to reach them with their green glow and unmistakable sound.
So, when Crackdown 3 was first announced at E3 2014 us Crackdown fans couldn’t wait to jump straight back in to feel like an unstoppable super-hero, this however took longer than we expect! Fast forward to 2019 and after many delays and rumours of possible cancellations, we finally get to feel like super-heroes again, but was it worth the wait?
Crackdown 3 sees you as an Agent once more and after a brief and probably forgettable intro where we see our ship being attacked and then crashed. The wreckage of the crash only shows to have one survivor and it’s here we get to select our Agent, though the choices are limited at the start. Our wingman this time round is Echo and it’s her who will guide through most of the game with the Agency Director making an appearance once more but takes more of a backseat. The two do chat to one another throughout the game and have a little banter with each other too.
From there you head out to the city of New Providence and begin to fight back at Terra Nova, the evil corporation that controls its populace with an iron fist and fear! Since Echo and her band of Militia saved what they could of you from the wrecked ship and had to put you back together as best they could. You start off as a mere shadow of your former self, but you can be retrained and become a super-enhanced Agent once more. This is done as you playthrough the Campaign by collecting agility orbs. These orbs are scattered about New Providence and are yours for the taking. The more difficult an agility orb is to reach, the more it rewards you with points towards reaching your full potential in agility, which in turn increases your speed and how far and how high you can jump.
It’s not just agility orbs you can grab when you are out cleaning up the city, there are also these blue orbs and its these hidden orbs that give you a boost in all your skills albeit a small amount. They are worth seeking out and for those among you that love to go orb hunting, there are 250 in total to find! Agility and hidden orbs are not the only way to boost your skills thankfully. Each skill is awarded on how you play the game. To get stronger and more be more resilient you will be using your melee attacks to beat down the Terra Nova. The stronger you become, the more fun the game gets, and this is due to you nearing your physical peak and you can hurl cars and bigger vehicles about the city, and you can cause some serious damage. The same goes for your explosive, gun and driving skills which is where the term Skills for Kills comes in. Before long you will be sprinting and jumping over buildings like a true superhero in no time.
So, once you are done getting use to the game and how your Agent moves about, what can you do to stop Terra Nova? Crackdown 3 much like its predecessors lets you approach the Terra Nova in any way you choose, though some choices will be harder than others. This is basically down to how powered up you are at the time. New Providence is controlled by Terra Nova owner Elizabeth Niemand and her 8 lieutenants with each of her lieutenants having their own base in the city under their control. These bases consist of toxic waste sites, monorail stations, security posts and more. To get the attention of each lieutenant you must destroy and remove their bases, as you remove them, you’ll see an intel meter build up until you reach 100%. Once this has been achieved, you can then go and hunt them down and take them out once and for all.
Each lieutenant has their own dynamic on how they fight and how you must overcome them. There is nothing substantial in how they are dealt with and all revolve around shooting them or destroying key points in the area. From time to time you will have to deal with a few of their henchmen/lackeys during your fight, but its nothing to worry about and you can mix it up as you see fit. Once you have taken out the lower level lieutenants you can then concentrate on the big 3 which will see you scaling each one of their towers situated in the middle of the city to confront. Eliminating these threats opens your epic or not so epic battle with the big boss herself, Elizabeth Niemand.
Once Terra Nova has been eliminated, there are secondary missions and challenges for you to do. Scattered about New Providence are propaganda towers that can be shut down and claimed for the Agency. These towers involve you jump from platform to platform to reach the top and there are some that will see you avoiding laser barriers as you try to reach the top. Each tower requires you to have a certain agility level and thankfully we have plenty of agility orbs to chase down to help us reach our peak! Then you will see these green and purple rings throughout the city and when you come up to one of these you can start an event. These are Race and Stunt events that help you further your driving and agility skills and are fun, but I was hoping for more of a variety in terms of their layouts and setup. Also scattered about each sector of the city are these moonshine kiosks which you get to blow up to grab more points, just keep an eye out of Monkey Moonshine kiosks and blow them to hell!
If you ever get tired of jumping and running about (and why would you?) there are vehicles you can jump into and drive around the city running over the bad guys. With the run of the mill vehicles that you find about the city, you also have your Agency vehicle which can transform as you increase your skill and while it’s cool to see it evolve into a beast. The cars you acquire in the city can be added to your base. These are Supply Points and respawn points and act like your home away from home. Every weapon and vehicle can be stored here and are at your disposal when you need something more powerful or in need of a refill to your weapons. These points can also be used as fast travel points to get about the city faster, but I find it too much fun running/jumping about dealing out justice!
Crackdown 3 is a great game to play, but when it comes the graphics while not jaw droppingly gorgeous, they are beautiful in their own right. The game still uses the same cell-shading graphics as previous titles in the franchise and has been given a boost in terms of visuals on the Xbox One and Xbox One X, but you get the feeling that more could have been done to improve on it. When you are out and about in the city, each section of the city has its own unique feel. When you compare it to other open-world games out now, it doesn’t hold up too well in terms of the level of detail on offer and the character models. There are moments in the game like explosions going off in the background as you fight the different factions in the city and while some of the bright neon lights at night really pop and look pretty, especially in 4K on the Xbox One X, that’s pretty much about it. The cutscenes in the game are all static silhouettes and mini animation screens that show up which gives the story-telling more of a comic book feel, which I liked. The only proper cutscene you get is at the start when we are first introduced to our agents.
When it comes to the audio in the game, again its much of the same song regarding explosions, voiceover work and the overall ambience of the city. We get to hear Terry Crews shout out over the city when we start taking over the propaganda towers and you also get to hear him through your comms unit, but if you go and choose another Agent at the start, you pretty much only hear him at certain points in the city. Director Goodwin is always on hand to tell you when you do something good or screw up. Gunfire, explosions and enemy chatter are all decent when meshed together in a fight.
The campaign in Crackdown 3 can be done in about 10-20 hours or so and this is based on how much of the secondary missions and challenges you do throughout your playthrough. I played the game as it came and completed the game, which gives me more freedom now to run about collecting all the orbs and completing the side missions that are left. This for me is where the longevity of the game comes in like the previous Crackdown titles as I enjoy running about collecting all the orbs from agility to the hidden orbs to the new Agent orbs. This Agent orbs lets us revive the agents that we lost at the start of the game and while its purely cosmetic at best, I still feel compelled to grab them all.
With the campaign complete and everything collected, now what? Other than a 2 player co-op option in the campaign, Crackdown 3 introduces a multiplayer mode called Wrecking Zone. This is a 5 v 5 PVP matchup with fellow agents and there are two game modes on offer, Agent Hunt and Territories. Agent Hunt is like Call of Duty Kill Confirmed and Territories is like your typical Domination match. The maps on offer seem more of a copy and paste scenario in that they almost look identical to one another. The maps are basically setup like training simulators for the Agents that fight in them.
There is not much substance in Wrecking Zone regarding the levelling system. There is an obvious lack of weapons on offer and with no real level rewards, there is nothing much that would keep you playing if you don’t enjoy the core mechanics of this mode. It would have made more sense to allow our Agents to level up the same way as they level up in the campaign mode. Also, there is a lack of party squads when you want to jump into a match with friends. There is an update coming to rectify this, but this should have been in the game at launch, especially from a publisher like Xbox Game Studios.
There was also lot of hype and chatter about the destruction when it came to Crackdown 3 and about the cloud-based destruction that would be on offer. Unfortunately, what we get is something less spectacular in terms of how the destruction happens. Everything feels more like papier-máché or cardboard as you blast through it. The combat in the game uses the same lock-on mechanics seen in the campaign and this works as everyone is jumping through and around the buildings across the map.
I wished they would have left the multiplayer on the floor or in a bin and put more development time in the main game and even co-op aspect too. For me Crackdown 3 screams for a 4-player co-op option in campaign and would have increased the enjoyment. I would have also loved to see some of the destruction from Wrecking Zone come across to the campaign too. If they move forward on Crackdown 4 they would need to add more in campaign in terms of content and visuals, plus drop in more destruction and leave multiplayer out in favour of a more beefier story.
Crackdown 3 is a lot of fun and brings back memories of hunting orbs until each one of them are grabbed. While visually it’s nothing to shout about, they do fit the overall aesthetic feel of the game. The core gameplay mechanics of the original games are still there and makes this game so much fun as before. Wrecking Zone for me seems more of an afterthought and nothing more and I would love to see it dropped in the next title and have more development time spent on improving the gameplay and visuals of the game and give us Crackdown fans something new!
GoG Rating: 7.5/10