|Release Date||February 14, 2019|
|Developer||Sumo Digital/Reagent Games/Cloudgine/Elbow Rocket|
*A copy of this game was provided by Xbox to FYIG for review purposes*
What a tumultuous development cycle Crackdown 3 has endured. The last Crackdown games, Crackdown 2 released in July 2010 nearly 9 years ago so there has been a lot of anticipation for the third game in the series after gamers have waited so long. Of course, it hasn’t been a smooth development process with many gamers wondering if this game would ever see the light of day after undergoing many different changes and vast differences in gameplay footage from an E3 reveal in 2015 to now. It’s a bit of a mixed bag on whether that’s a good thing or not.
Crackdown 3’s story is a pretty forgettable one with evil mega-corporation Terra Nova sucking out all of the world’s power and you have to take them down as part of The Agency. It’s a cookie-cutter story that never receives much development throughout the whole game. I will say that the comic-style storyboard cutscenes that pop up here and there were nice touches that I wish would have been used a bit more frequently. They had Terry Crews do a great performance of Commander Jaxon and yet you barely ever hear from him after the introduction. Instead, he’s pretty much relegated to an agent skin that you can play as no different from any of the others outside of different character bonuses just like any other character. The story itself is pretty secondary and it’s not something I even bothered to pay attention to after I got about halfway through. It’s just not engaging and the whole game has you basically running through New Providence going from point to point trying to take down every enemy and occasionally disable some electronics.
There’s not much else to it. The shooting mechanics are best-used with auto aim so you’re basically pressing the triggers on your controller for you 10-hour experience. You can try not to use auto-aim but the shooting mechanics are so bad that it’s just not advisable at all. There are also things like using melee and later abilities like ground pound, but it’s much easier to just mow everyone down with your chosen weapon. It’s just kind of crazy to me that a game based almost solely on combat is so average in that area. This game did improve upon their combat a little bit by allowing elemental themes to most of its weapons. Fire is effective against humans, electricity is effective against robots, poison is effective against shields.
There are a lot of cool combinations you can create with your 3 weapon loadout, but to be honest, I mostly stuck with one weapon for my entire playthrough because it was equally as effective. I used the Pulse Beam for the majority of the time because it took down pretty much everything that I could come into contact with. It was like I was holding all the power on this island because of this one weapon and I couldn’t believe that I found it so early on in the game. The weapons themselves are pretty cool with a bunch of different elemental weapons (as I mentioned), a black hole launcher, and a bunch of different grenade options. You acquire them by finding them in the world or picking them up from enemies and then they’re available to you for the rest of your playthrough.
As for what you’ll be fighting against, Terra Nova has a nice structure to it that is not unlike the hierarchy seen in Shadow of Mordor. The logistics wing is purple and has taken over all the monorail stations across the island. Simply take down the robot mini-boss at each of these stations and they become part of the resistance. Industry is the green wing and includes things like pipelines, refineries, storage facilities, etc. These are taken out by destroying/hacking equipment. Red is the security wing and they’ve set up detention centers, vehicle depots, and defensive turrets. These can be taken over by shooting guards, hacking, and destroying. As you can see, there’s a pretty big pattern here.
As in most games with multiple boss leaders, these colour-coded targets employ lieutenants who report to their bosses who then report to the main boss. You can take them out in any order you want, but being systematic about it allows you to weaken the hierarchy. It doesn’t matter where you go, you’ll eventually stumble upon some type of activity to complete. The thing that I really liked was that each activity shows you how likely you are to survive in the battle at that moment in time. If you go into a battle with a 95% survival rating, it’ll probably be a breeze. Go in with a 35% rating and you might have a much more difficult time.
The boss battles are some of the best moments in Crackdown 3. A lot of them are just a random boss in a mech, but there are a few fights that require a bit more thought put into them later in the game. Each boss has a distinct personality, but sadly you don’t get to see them or hear from them often enough to make it something that really sticks with you enough. The only memorable boss to me was the final boss because she was given cutscenes throughout the story so you were being prepared the whole way through.
The one thing I really like that was carried over from the original game was gaining skill as you kills different foes. Strength, explosive, and gun kills all advance those specific stats so if you’d prefer to punch everyone or throw things at them, you become more powerful in that area and can pick up bigger things. The same goes for the other two methods, you simply become stronger. Racing, stunts, and vehicular kills advance your driving stats and allow you to drive better vehicles. As you climb up the ranks in those disciplines, you gain cool new skills. It’s a good system that I wish would have been expanded on even more.
The unfortunate thing about Crackdown 3 is that the sense of power that you feel is the one thing that makes the game feel so average. The game never offers much of a challenge to even the most novice players unless you play on Legendary. Even on that difficulty level, it’s certainly still a playable experience with the generous amount of health and quick regeneration that you have. The game requires you to keep killing to replenish your health and in doing that defeats itself by it having to be easy enough so that you can mow down an entire room without being killed every 5 seconds. There’s no tension or fear because I know I can take everyone out in seconds. You never have to worry about ammo, you can find it almost anywhere. Once you have your loadout, you’re unlikely to change it.
Driving in Crackdown 3 is almost completely pointless. The cars handle terribly for a game coming out in 2019. They’re heavy, clunky, and generally pretty slow. the exception to this is the awesome Agency vehicle that can transform between a speedster, a spider buggy, and a tank. That’s great, but the reality is simply that moving around on foot is a lot more efficient considering the island isn’t THAT big and as you gain more abilities when you collect agility orbs, you’re able to triple jump and air dash with ease eliminating the need for transportation at all. It’s a similar problem that Saints Row 4 ran into.
Speaking of agility orbs, there are plenty of those to collect with 1000 hidden and agility orbs on the map to grab to upgrade your character. There are also other side activities like finding agent DNA to add new ones to your lineup, platforming puzzles to disable propaganda, driving stunt jumps, road races, rooftop races, and hacking into communication relays to acquire intel. It’s a bunch of collecting like every other game, but it’s not quite as daunting as some games make it. The cool thing is that if you want to max out your character you can carry that character into new worlds and collect a little bit in each world to max yourself out. I’ve rarely seen separate character and world slots so that was a bonus.
New Providence is an interesting island from the outside looking in. There are massive skyscrapers, snaking highways, refineries, slums, and everything in between. Of course, when you get up close, you realize that the island is pretty lifeless. There are cars and people around but the island never really feels very lively. It feels pretty generic and everything looks pretty much the same. Part of me wonders if this was by design from when they were going to use cloud-based destruction and they just never bothered to give anything a facelift. Despite this, I still feel like most of the game looks pretty uninspired despite some good lighting.
Crackdown 3’s multiplayer mode is an interesting look into what the campaign could have been because it does have the cloud-based destruction that Microsoft touted all those years ago. Everything can be destroyed and you can have a whole skyscraper fall on top of you. It’s a frantic type of game that feels less based on skill and more about how quickly you can pounce on a vulnerable player. You have access to a handful of weapons from the main game and either an overshield or a jump height increase.
The only two game modes are a Team Deathmatch type mode and a Domination type mode and that feels like a really big letdown to me. If there were more modes, this multiplayer mode might be something people will come back to, but as it stands, I can’t see anyone playing it for more than a day. I expected it to be more fun than it was and it just left me wanting more content from it much like the campaign.
|Elemental weaponry||Uninspired environment|
|Agency vehicle||Multiplayer feels incomplete|