Crackdown 3 Review: Crack is Whack

I’ve never played any game in the Crackdown series before playing Crackdown 3. I’ve always heard that the series is just a fun mindless superhero sandbox experience and while it looked enjoyable, it never really caught my interest enough to purchase it. In fact, the only reason I even played Crackdown 3 was that it was included as part of Xbox Game Pass which cost me $1 for three months.

Originally slated to be released in 2016, Crackdown 3 went through a lot of development turmoil. The original trailers never looked impressive for an Xbox One exclusive ( looking very much like an Xbox 360 game) and I think that feedback led to the game being delayed and then Microsoft had to change the lead developer which delayed the game even further. The game reappeared at E3 2017 and was rebranded with Terry Crews in the game which is fine. I guess. (every time I hear Terry Crews in the game I think of Old Spice) Unfortunately, even with all the extra development time, Crackdown 3 isn’t a good game.

Let’s get the good stuff out of the way. Crackdown 3 is fun if you don’t expect too much like a story or memorable characters. You play as a super cop sent to New Providence in order to take the city back from the evil Terracorp. The hook of Crackdown 3 is that you start off pretty weak but then after completing missions and collecting orbs you grow in strength to an absurd amount. You’ll run faster, be able to jump like the Hulk, throw cars the length of a football field. It’s fun seeing your character level up and physically grow. The game also places agility orbs in places that encourage you to explore and find them all. These orbs reward you by helping you jump farther and run faster. You are also given a lot of weapons that will help you blow up baddies that keep it interesting for a little while. Trapping 6 bad guys and a tank in a mini-black-hole is rather cathartic. Boss encounters are interesting as well, as some of the bosses are located behind huge fortresses that you have to use your agility to infiltrate which encourage the use of abilities you have unlocked. Running, jumping, shooting, fun! Everything else…no

Now onto the issues. Crackdown 3 does not look good. It looks like it would fit right at home on Xbox 360. I played the PC version at max settings in 4k and the game ran fine at 60 FPS with only a few drops in framerate. It just isn’t pretty to look at. It does have a cartoon cel-shaded aesthetic but it doesn’t look as good as something like Borderlands 2 and that game came out in 2012. There isn’t a lot of detail in the environment and each part of New Providence looks exactly the same. Citizens just walk around as if they are just to get in your way and the city just doesn’t feel like a real city. It feels like it was created just for you to shoot things in. Sound effects are standard as well as a generic electronic soundtrack. Throughout the game, two characters constantly update you on objectives and also say corny one-liners like “crispy fried bad guy” when you kill someone. However, one time I did hear “My blackhole brings all the goons to the yard” like the Kelis Milkshake song and it was rather funny.

Game design is also very archaic. The whole map is open to you very early on and encourages you to do whatever you want. You can travel across the map either on foot or vehicle. I’m not entirely sure why driving is even in the game. The cars feel a bit floaty and I found them hard to control. Also, if you set a waypoint on the map, good luck figuring out how to get there using the roads because there isn’t a guide and the roads never seem to lead you to where you need to go. It’s not very intuitive at all. Once you get to through a few missions you start to realize every mission in the game feels like a side quest. The game basically has you attack a few enemy strongholds which consist of usually blowing something up, hacking a terminal, or defeating a certain amount of bad guys. After you complete enough of these you can challenge a boss the local kingpin. Defeat him, rinse and repeat until you finish the game. There are no epic moments or exciting encounters. It’s a shame to give you all these cool abilities and no interesting way to utilize them. The bad guys do get increasingly tougher as you get farther in the game but it’s nothing creative or that interesting. It feels like there should be a lot more to do in this game but there isn’t. An open world game in 2019 should be packed with variety and Crackdown 3 provides very little.

Thankfully the game is only about 6-7 hours long on the second hardest difficulty. It might be 5 hours if you just run through it on the regular difficulty. The difficulty in the game isn’t that hard though some cheap deaths will happen. You don’t need to worry about aiming as there is a targeting system which seems a little out of place. I feel it takes a bit of skill out of shooting your weapons. Enemies lock on to you as well because they never miss a shot, but you have a good amount of shields and health that recover over time if you refrain from taking damage. The game gives you a survival percentage based on your strength for each mission to make sure you don’t try a mission that will be too difficult at that point in time. The boss fights, for the most part, are simple. Just fire all your weapons at them until they die. I only had a tough time with the final two bosses because I was a bit fatigued of the whole experience.   

Overall, Crackdown 3 is a rather mediocre experience that is held down by old game design, unimpressive visuals, and repetitive gameplay. There is fun to be had growing stronger and traversing the environment on foot. Being overpowered and destroying enemy strongholds is a fun way to just let loose in a game that doesn’t want you to think too much about it. The only problem is that when you start to think about it, it all falls apart. I wouldn’t dare pay full price for it, but for $1 on Xbox Game Pass, you could do worse.

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