It’s been nine long years since Crackdown 2 was released, and if you’re a fan, you’ve watched Crackdown 3 go down a road that usually does not portend well for most video games. Luckily for us, Crackdown 3 and all the orb hunting glory it brings with it is completely intact, and has finally arrived to a console near you.
If you’ve never played the Crackdown series before, it’s simple enough: the player character works for the Agency, the world’s de facto police force. Your character, referred to by everyone as ‘agent’ (surprise), is on a mission to stop world-wide chaos originating in New Providence, an island city run by the evil corporation, TerraNova (no, not that TerraNova).
The Agent has five skills to use: agility, gunfire, explosives, melee, and driving, and they’re leveled up by simply being used. This encourages you to go out and engage in as much mayhem as humanly possible – and, for the most part, it’s pretty fun. There are dozens of weapons with really cool names (Warp guns! Vortex cannons! The Mulcher!), which can be collected throughout the game. You actually start off solely with an ordinary pistol, and as you travel through New Providence, you can pick up the various weapons your foes drop, and they’re permanently added to your cache.
Supply points are key to gameplay: not only do they serve as ammo refills, weapons storage, and fast travel points, but upon the Agent’s untimely demise, your DNA is recoded and regenerated at a supply point of your choosing (i.e. they’re respawn points, too). You can also choose your player character here as well – even if you started the game with one, you can swap out for one of six playable characters at the supply points, if you so choose. Each character has a slight edge when it comes to the five skills, earning you between 5-15% extra on any two skills (I picked Commander Jaxon, i.e. Terry Crews, who gives you a bonus on earning melee and explosives skill orbs, for example).
In order to get to Elizabeth Niemand, CEO of TerraNova, you have you go through her three divisions: Logistics, Chemicals, and Enforcement. Each one has a Division Head, each with their own unique 15 seconds of backstory, and each Head has a couple of lieutenants. The idea is a pretty simple one: wreck havoc in each division’s racket to draw out the lieutenants, and once you’ve eliminated all of them, you can draw out the Division Head. Once all of them have been eliminated, then you can move on Niemand.
If you really wanted to, you could theoretically move on Niemand right away – the world map shows the major objectives left to accomplish, and shows the percentage chance that you will be successful. You can go straight to the boss from the word ‘go’, but your chance at survival will be incredibly low. If you play the way the game intends, you’ll increase your skills as you complete the easier objectives, and as such, your percentage for taking on the harder bosses will increase. Even so, it’s not a hard rule – I beat most of the end game content with a 40% chance for survival, and it was mostly just tedious. Large parts of the game involve climbing a tall building floor by floor, wipe out waves of bullet sponge enemies, and repeating until you arrive at the boss – who usually is just a bigger version of all the enemies you’ve faced on your way there.
If all of that sounds somewhat familiar, that’s because it is: there’s nothing in Crackdown 3 that an experienced gamer has not played before. That’s not to say it’s not entertaining: the Lieutenants and Division Heads have some fun, comic-book style intros, and going around New Providence is easy to do and is worth exploring, especially if you’re into hunting orbs in every nook and cranny (there are 750 Agility Orbs to find, along with 250 Hidden Orbs).
Unfortunately, the story is pretty thin – there’s an attempt to hint at a shadowy figure that undoubtedly will come in the shape of future DLC – and the voice work is pretty painful. I mentioned Terry Crews: beyond the game’s opening cinematic, he doesn’t have more than a couple lines of dialogue. The Agent is accompanied by Director Goodwin, the Agency’s head, and Echo, a thief-turned-communications-specialist. No matter what you’re doing, they interject every 30-45 seconds, and after playing for even just an hour, hearing Goodwin say ‘I like that weapon!’ or ‘You’ve really pissed them off now!’ becomes incredibly grating.
Additionally, the graphics themselves look a little dated, especially for a game that’s getting released in 2019. I played this game with a 4K TV and an Xbox One X, and while there were no performance issues (the game loads pleasantly fast, no frame rate drops, no lagging), the actual graphics look like they’re still catering to a crowd from 2012.
That, truly, is the major issue with Crackdown 3. It feels like it never moved past the original release date of ‘a few years after 2010’, and forgot to update itself for 2019. Everything in the game – the free roam, the dialogue, the graphics, the story – feels like it was ripped from an Xbox 360 game from about 8-9 years ago, almost like a less entertaining (and definitely less funny) version of the Saints Row series of games. Had I been told this was actually a remastered version of the first Crackdown game, I wouldn’t have a hard time believing it.
Hopefully, multiplayer is a different story – the ‘Wrecking Zone’ addition has just been released, and will be added onto this review.
Crackdown 3 arrives exclusively for Xbox One on February 15, 2019. Xbox provided Okay, Cool with a copy of the game for review purposes.
You can find Sho on Twitter at @SNSAlli if you wanna know more about Crackdown 3!