If there was ever a video game that made you feel, as the player, like an absolute UNIT! Then it is Crackdown 3. The game gives you a playground of pure chaos. There is no shortage of enemies and an equal supply of munitions to rain down pain and mayhem in the revival of Microsoft Studios long neglected franchise.
Crackdown 3 sees the almighty armada of The Agency’s greatest assets take to the streets of New Providence, a Dubai-like metropolis built by the corrupt company; TerraNova. The city is built on an island way out in the middle of the ocean where they have been attacking cities all over the world using missiles loaded with the super-element Chimera.
One major revelation is how the story manages to bring the franchise full circle. Trying hard not to spoil anything for anyone but there is a link all the way back to previous entries from the franchise! The unexpected development within the story was a nice little inclusion and I was fairly delighted with being blindsided by what the story had under the hood.
The real drag though is that was about as interesting as the narrative of the game got. Bringing down a major corrupt company isn’t a huge innovation in story-telling. The franchise isn’t exactly known for being Tolkien with the way it weaves its tale but at least they tried in this instance.
The real appeal to Crackdown 3 though is the gameplay. There is a large volume of repetition throughout, yet with the violence of the game reaching heights others can only dream of, it never seems to lose its charm. Especially with the arousing level of weapons you can obtain throughout. Regardless of this, the repetition does serve a purpose as shooting, uppercutting, and exploding enemy forces improves each skill respectively and in turn unlocks new abilities. This handy little perk also applies to driving and your insane parkour abilities.
The combat is very basic with Crackdown 3 and doesn’t appear to have actually tried to innovate itself from its older brothers. The number one thing that is hard to NOT notice, is that the shooting uses a lock-on feature as opposed to a zoomed view more common with shooters. This does mean that when the enemy forces start to surround you then things can get a little bit hairy for your agent. Despite this, it really only seems to be a hindrance if playing on the Legendary Difficulty, but if you do manage to complete an objective whilst overwhelmed with these handicaps, then it’s like scratching an under-skin itch.
There is a surprising amount of variation to the weaponry in Crackdown 3. Guns aren’t restricted to the usual pew-pew and kabooms but even throws in ELEMENTAL EFFECTS! You can do the classic of setting your enemies on fire with incendiary grenades, get your Mr. Freeze on with the Cryo-Shotgun or sit these bitches down with the shotgun based Vortex Cannon, or poison the locals with the devastating Omni-Rifle. Grenades also get the mix-up treatment, especially when you replace them with the ability to manifest the last item you smashed some poor fools with or drop a Singularity Grenade between a few baddies and tanks.
Crackdown 3 has two ways to travel, the open world trope of hopping in any car via intimidating entry, or getting the ultimate leg workout by scaling buildings like a mother fucking boss! Firstly, the latter. The sprawling city of New Providence is filled with skyscrapers, block apartments and fancy shopping centers. Each is just as satisfying to scale as the last, and bouncing from rooftop to rooftop is boundless fun. Among the sickly sweet skyline lie the trademark Agility Orbs. Collecting enough of the these green goodies are the most abundantly clear way to build up your Agents Agility Ability! You could also take on Rooftop Races to boost the skill as well as take a sweet little stroll through some poor saps rooftop garden.
I found that the driving of Crackdown 3 was a mix and match of “this is halfway decent” and “SWEET BABY JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL! *incoherent scream*” and therefore found myself minimizing the amount of time I spent mingling with my motorist buddies. The former of my statements was restricted to the civilian vehicles that were found throughout the game and I found them quite the pleasure to zip through the streets with. Whereas the more appealing Agency car was a goddamned nightmare to use. Steering was like trying to hold an oil-covered baby over a pit of fire, one little twitch wrong and you were in a world of shit.
Now to really make your agent the perfect being then you were also tasked with increasing the Driving Skill. Now you could cruise around in any hunk of scrap you found and plow it through an unsuspecting patrol of goons or attempt to find and drive through the stunt rings found throughout the city. The third option would be to try and tackle the time-trials and go for the gold (which nets you the most experience). The only downside with these is that you do not select which vehicle you get to use. Is it going to be one of the variations of the Agency car (GOD PLEASE NO!) or will you be fortunate enough to ride around in one of the civilian vehicles?
I suppose I should elaborate on the Agency Car as it does have its own unique presence in the game. In previous installments, there were 3 individually unique cars, one was for speed, one for traversal, and one for raw power. Come Crackdown 3, all of these traits have been bundled up into one versatile package. The forms are; Lightning, designed for speed and blessed with a sideswipe ability useful for dodging and ramming; Spider, built for climbing up walls and across ceilings as well as being able to leap over traffic; Minotaur, it’s a tank…
The Lightning form may be fast but handles like every turn needs to be overreacted with soap opera levels of drama. The Spider is easily my favorite with its ability to climb, however, seems to ignore a lot of inputs by the player as it neglects to put on its brakes from time to time. Finally, the Minotaur, its equipped with a turret with the accuracy of a blind man making it about as useful if it was instead filled with confetti. All this combined really makes the Agency Car no fun to use which is a huge shame as its previous iterations were glorious constructs.
Graphically, Crackdown 3 is neither anything special nor does it look awful. It uses cel-shaded graphics as the series has before. This doesn’t feel like anything too special but does make the game look and feel more like a comic book, really helping to sell the whole superhuman feel. It suits the feel of the game but overall I would say that it hasn’t really improved much since the last installment. I feel like it looks like it could have been released during the later years of the 7th generation of consoles.
There is a huge amount of replayability to Crackdown 3. Whether it’s returning to the game to try and find all the orbs scattered around or going right to back to square one to try on a harder difficulty. With the vast amount of buildings comes an even grander scale in terms of hiding holes. This makes returning to areas found throughout the game turn into a case of detective work as you prowl your way through to find everything hidden throughout whether you be finding collectibles or completing previously neglected side missions.
As for returning to your roots and sliding into Legendary Difficulty like Tinder DM’s, it can be done via one of two routes. You can go full fresh restart and set up a new agent with stats plopped right back down to nothing and really take the hard route. Or you can bring out your original Agent and opt for the New Game+ alternative. Taking route two really was my favorite of the two, with my high-tech armory at my disposal, I was bringing down absolute carnage on the lower-level areas which made me feel like the badass which I was clearly destined to be.
The overall world design was really nice to begin with, and I found that each area blended really nicely making everything feel alive. The world map is divided into different districts, each with its own feel. With the amount of work put into the vertical play available to you, it also comes with its hidey holes and places to visit.
There is very little in terms of repetition when it comes to the structures throughout New Providence. This really brings out the amount of character and work which was put into making Crackdown 3. You may see a few copy/paste jobs here and there but overall everything looks like it was uniquely crafted and the architecture of the overall city has a look of professionalism put towards it.
As much as I loved the overall design, I had one glaring problem. All over New Providence was an interweaving Highway. This tangle of tarmac was the absolute most infuriating thing to try and navigate. Even when setting a marker for your next target, there was no indication of what the fastest road network was to take. The world map itself was about as helpful as if you threw spaghetti at your wall to try and understand what the fuck you were actually looking. Then again the wall-pasta would probably look less non-sensical overall.
A hugely notable feature in Crackdown 3 was the inclusion of a competitive mode known as THE WRECKING ZONE (all caps makes it seem epic)! The biggest selling point of the new mode is the fully destructible environment and let me tell you now: underwhelming.
Optimizing the latest and greatest in technological developments, the Azure Cloud! As impressive as it is to see a building come crashing down around you during an intense battle with other people, it isn’t anything new. This feature has been seriously overhyped as when you pair the madness of a crumbling building with the almost impossible to follow combat then all you get left with is a death where you don’t even know what just happened.
The other problem I have with Wrecking Zone was that, earlier, I mentioned the game uses a lock-on feature when targeting enemies. Think about it, you can lock on to your enemies and vice versa, they can lock on to you. When this happens, it’s just a death sentence. I mean you can see where an enemy is targeting you from but it isn’t necessarily any help as there seems to be absolutely no error made when making a shot and if more than one enemy is locked on to you, then say your prayers because you aren’t coming out of this one alive.
I absolutely love the franchise as a whole and I think that Crackdown 3 was long overdue. Sure there is a lack of a deep narrative, the gameplay mechanics are over a decade old and the competitive multiplayer is unnecessary. Despite not doing anything really innovative, it maintained what made the series great to begin with. It is just carnage in its purest form. It makes for a great escape from reality and allows you to live out the fantasy of cutting down hundreds of people mercilessly… that’s my dream at least I don’t know about you.