Third time is not always the charm
Crackdown 3 is an open world, action packed, colourful journey through a futuristic (yet surprisingly boring) city that tasks you with its liberation.
As you’re a special agent with borderline super powers, it sounds like it should be a fantastically fun and diverse game, but sadly it fails on almost every level.
First announced at E3 2014, the game was set to launch in 2016 but suffered multiple delays, which could lead you to believe that with all that extra development time, it would be a great game. Instead, the game is an odd mashup of systems, design and a plot that would have been outdated in the original Crackdown back in 2007.
In the beginning of Crackdown 3, you’re stuck with using boring standard weapons and punching enemies, it isn’t until you progress the story that you gain access to the more impressive weapons (toxic cannons and gravity guns spring to mind) and crazy powers like dashing through the air or punching the ground to damage enemies.
Rinse and repeat
The combat is fairly boring, with auto-lock doing most of the work, all you have to do is lock-on, shoot, wait for them to die, move on to the next target, repeat.
Harder enemies do force you to put a bit more attention in, but even with the games’ main bosses, it usually just amounts to staying moving. Not necessarily in any particular pattern or for any tactical reason, just move, jump and shoot – that’s it, the evolution of the entire combat system.
Crazier weapons and bosses try to change up the combat, but unless you actually want to use them, you don’t have to. I stuck with the same weapon for the entire game; the plasma gun, a laser that set enemies on fire as it was so powerful against all types of enemies and required zero aiming. There was no incentive for me to change up my loadout and use other weapons, and considering the hordes of mindless enemies the game sends at you, the quickest way to dispatch them was the best, even if it wasn’t the flashiest.
The city of TerraNova is barebones and has no personality to it, don’t expect anything close to GTA V-levels of immersion. Each section of the city tries to have its own aesthetic but they all blend into one. The much-advertised destruction of buildings is only available in the online Wrecking Zone, which itself is quite boring with the auto-lock remaining on, and massive framerate drops throughout any match.
The plot is unfortunately as boring and uninspired as the combat and world, with the entire story basically amounting to “evil corporation: bad, hero Agent: good”. Even playing through the game as Terry Crews (Commander Jaxon) isn’t fun, mostly because the fact that he’s Terry Crews is never really utilised, but also that the sound mixing on the in-game voice audio is oddly low. Terry shouts quips from time to time, but they’re barely audible, and I don’t recall him saying a single word in any cutscene.
Crackdown 3 is a very “videogamey” videogame, it’s a full-on assault of braindead action, chaos and is a perfectly acceptable game to play if you’re tired, hungover, or otherwise don’t want to get into a complicated plot with deep game mechanics.
It’s also a strangely short game, considering the decently-sized open world and side missions. I managed to finish almost all the game has to offer in around six hours. If Crackdown 3 goes on a deep sale, perhaps pick it up, or if you already have Xbox Game Pass, check it out, but I wouldn’t recommend signing up to Game Pass specifically for it.