Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Release Date: February 15th, 2019
Reviewed On: Xbox One X
Developer: Sumo Digital, Elbow Rocket
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Price: $59.99 USD (Also available day and date on Xbox Game Pass)
(This review will only cover Crackdown 3‘s Campaign, as I did not receive a code in time to properly dive into Crackdown 3‘s multiplayer modes. Stay tuned for a follow-up article in regards to Crackdown 3‘s multiplayer aspects.)
Crackdown 3 has been through one hell of a development ride, with multiple studios working to bring this game together after its reveal back at E3 2014. Through all the trials and tribulations the game will be in Xbox players hands on February 15th. The question is, was it worth the wait? Join me as I share with you my journey through New Providence. Here’s my Crackdown 3 review.
The core gameplay loop for Crackdown 3 is pretty standard for an open sandbox game, focusing on immersing the player in physics and explosions. In Crackdown 3, your main objective is to dismantle the evil Terra Nova organization. How do you do this you might ask? In similar fashion to Shadow of Mordor, you attack and destroy specific objectives to flush out low ranking officers and then eliminate them to expose higher up leadership. These tasks vary, from blowing up chemical factories, releasing rebels from prison camps, and capturing monorail stations. These main objectives are broken up by side activities such as driving stunts, races, free running challenges and of course orb collection. It is important to note, that these side activities play an important part in leveling up your agent early on when the fights feel a lot tougher. Orb collection feels natural, as you will find 90% of them while naturally progressing through the game. In comparison to collectibles in other games like this or (open-world games in general), that is a very nice change of pace.
One thing that impressed me immensely with Crackdown 3 was the sheer verticality of the map. What I mean by this is that a lot of the objectives require you to use platforming to get to bosses and objectives. Movement plays a key point in your survival especially in the higher difficulty levels of the game. The game gets quite hectic as it starts to feel like Terranova is throwing everything at you, including the kitchen sink. But worry not, as the more enemies are thrown at you, the more dangerous weapons and gadgets you will soon find at your disposal. Out of the arsenal of guns the game gives you, one of my early favorites was the PDW, which essentially feels like the Halo 3 assault rifle. Explosive based weapons are an absolute blast, a personal favorite moment of mine was using the Decimator for the first time. It’s a multi-projectile missile launcher that you charge up to lock on to multiple targets then release the trigger to basically delete most enemies that are in front of you. I had a great time cycling through all the different weapons the game offered, as certain enemy types force you to adapt your playstyle which keeps you on your toes and never just settling on one particular weapon.
Another great aspect of the game that is worth mentioning is the level up system. There are 5 different skills you will be leveling up. Agility, Firearms, Explosives, Melee, and Driving. All these skills evolve as you fight your way through Terra Nova’s endless onslaught of minions and machines. Depending on your style of play the faster these skills will level up, with each level bringing a new perk that will significantly buff that skill. The rewards for “maxing” a skill are well worth the time it takes. I won’t ruin the surprise but the last perk for the melee skill is absolutely game-changing.
The story was very underwhelming, unfortunately. Super evil corporation controls the entire island, you must liberate the island by destroying different henchmen and destabilizing the leader until the final showdown. Open world sandbox games often suffer from very uninspired stories, as in this genre, there is a much larger focus on gameplay then storytelling. While this is not a bad thing, games like Marvel’s Spider-Man have proven that you can provide a great story while still checking all the open world boxes. With that being said, the story has never been a particularly strong point for the Crackdown franchise, so keep this in mind as you play.
Bosses felt repetitive all the way through the game, never really having one that stuck out as memorable was unfortunate. With a lackluster cast of villains, I constantly found myself questioning my story progress. In one particular side activity, you hack enemy communication signals, which actually tells more of the story then completing the main missions of the game. If this was a design choice, it was a poor one.
One of the first things I noticed right off the start with Crackdown 3 was the vibrant colors that really popped. The neon lighting in the darkest parts of New Providence really struck a strong contrast to doom and gloom atmosphere of a city torn apart by the evil Terra Nova organization. The more “upscale” parts of Providence is where the game really shines, however, the textures really pop with color, which brings the city to life and really contrasts against the slums. If you have an Xbox One X the HDR on this game is absolutely exceptional and quite possibly one of the best uses of HDR that I have seen yet. While not as graphically stunning as some more recent open world games, Crackdown 3 still manages to shine in its own way.
The art style, like in previous Crackdown games, aims for almost a comic book vibe. With the one man army style of this game, the comic book style graphics make you feel like you’re playing through the pages of a cheesy 80’s action comic.
One of the most exciting aspects of Crackdown 3 for many people was the inclusion of Terry Crews as a playable character. With the number of catchphrases that we know Terry for, I really had some high hopes for some really good humor. However, outside of the intro cinematic, he only has a handful of lines. Which feels like an absolutely missed opportunity, considering we’ve had such performances as Nolan North’s Deadpool in games of this style before. On top of this, all the voice acting in general felt phoned in and dead, which really didn’t help sell a very average story.
However, the high energy background music mixed with the explosions made for some great gameplay moments, where once again Crackdown 3 seems to really shine. The guns sound like they pack a punch, and the explosions of missiles hitting enemies and mechs are on point. Also how about that orb sound? Avid Crackdown fans will love the return of the classic orb audio queue, which is a nice little bit of series nostalgia.
Crackdown 3 suffers from many stereotypical open world sandbox issues, but underneath these issues was a game I legitimately enjoyed. It was a fun 15-hour romp through New Providence which had me thinking back to games like Saints Row that were just about having fun and blowing up bad guys. Not all games need to be heavy narrative games, sometimes just straight explosive fun can be a nice change of pace. If you have Xbox Game Pass and you enjoy sandbox games, then definitely give Crackdown 3 a spin.