Game: Crackdown 3
Platforms: PC, Xbox One (Reviewed)
Developer: Sumo Digital
Release Date: February 15, 2019
Crackdown 2 came out almost 9 years ago, but I can’t help but feel like it was just yesterday that I was leaping from building to building, taking out outposts, and collecting those sweet, sweet green orbs. Maybe it’s because so many games since its release have had a similar formula: Saints Row IV, Infamous: Second Son, Prototype, Agents of Mayhem, Just Cause 3 & 4, and the list goes on and on.
And that’s probably Crackdown 3’s biggest problem: it’s not that it’s a bad game – it’s not – it’s that there are so many others like it. But can this third iteration of the Crackdown franchise do something to stand out, or is it just more of the same?
The short answer is an unfortunate – albeit expected – one: no. To put it simply, Crackdown 3 just isn’t doing enough. Again, that’s not to say that Crackdown 3 isn’t a quality game – it mostly is – but its biggest flaw is a hurdle too big that even an agent played by the likable Terry Crews can leap over it.
At its core, Crackdown 3 is problematic mostly because it feels so dated. In the campaign, you’ll be tackling slightly different objectives on a massive open world map like you’ve done thousands of times in those similar games mentioned above – the majority of which have you, an OP agent, going into an outpost and destroying it. There are a handful of different types of objectives that you’re given in Crackdown 3, including Monorail Stations, Containment Sites, Machinery Processing Units, Prisoner Hardpoints, and more. However, there’s not much variation between these objectives. Sure, they’ll have slightly different main objectives you’ll need to complete in order to advance, but it’s all just a guise to get you to mindlessly kill all enemies in each area so that you can move onto the next outpost to do the same thing.
Each outpost essentially feels like a bullet hell, and you’ll certainly take your fair share of punishment. Each outpost has its own thing, right, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before; none of it feels unique. You’ll simply use the trigger buttons to lock onto targets, shoot ’em dead, and then lock onto the next target. Rinse and repeat. Once in a while, you’ll throw a grenade or pick up something large to throw at your enemies. But, generally speaking, it’s a pretty dull experience. This third iteration of the franchise lacks any sort of creativity with its gameplay in the campaign, making it feel bland in comparison with the plethora of other open world sandbox games available.
But, bland missions aren’t even Crackdown 3’s biggest offense. Bland missions could be saved with a unique setting, which brings is to the game’s real offender: its dull setting. It’s a paint by the numbers map where, sure – it’s twice as big as the original Crackdown’s map, but there’s nothing exciting about it. It’s all repetitive, filled with those specific types of outposts, samey-looking city buildings in a samey-looking climate. There’s little variation in the map’s design, and it becomes quickly noticed that there’s simply just not a lot going on in the world.
Even driving in Crackdown 3 feels uninspired. Most of the cars you’ll find feel the same in how they drive, but you’ll mostly find yourself just calling for your handy Agency vehicle to appear right in front of you, most of the time (because what’s the point of driving anything else, really). There are no surprises, as far as vehicles are concerned, which is a surprise, itself. When you factor in that the Crackdown franchise is supposed to be a B action movie filled with crazy explosions and cool action sequences, it’s a surprise that you aren’t given some of the vehicles you’d typically find in other open world video game playgrounds, like speedboats, helicopters, fighter jets, and the like.
Like in previous Crackdown games, you’ll level up through collecting orbs and using your skills as you play. The more you use a specific skill, the higher your level with that skill becomes, and the more abilities you earn. However, like the driving, world design, and missions, it feels uninspired, without any uniqueness or anything to make any of it matter. It just doesn’t matter because you’ll still mostly find yourself aiming and shooting, despite what your other abilities may be.
As far as Crackdown 3’s multiplayer is concerned, it’s also quite problematic for a number of reasons. Mostly, it’s as uninspired as its campaign. It’s called the Wrecking Zone, and its unique pull is that all of the buildings in each of the limited number of maps can be fully destroyed. So, there’s essentially nowhere for players to run away to as they’re being shot by enemy players. However, the real problem was that I couldn’t hold a steady framerate on my Xbox One X while playing. It’s tough to enjoy a match when you’re constantly stuttering whenever there’s a big explosion or a building is destroyed.
On top of its lack of flavor and framerate issues, there’s also the fact that you’re unable to stay in a party. Instead, you’re forced to rejoin each other after each game. Yikes. We’ve all been told that the party functionality is incoming with an update soon, but for now, it’s another design headscratcher.
Leaping tall buildings in a single bound and playing the role of a superpowered soldier is cool and all, but it’s something we’ve done so many times that Crackdown 3 ultimately feels fruitless. Unfortunately, even Terry Crews’ short quips and introductory hype video isn’t enough to get us amped-up about Crackdown 3. It falls flat on just about every aspect, making us wonder why Microsoft even delayed it for this long, anyway. What were they doing all this time? When you factor in its long wait and numerous delays, I think out disappointment with Crackdown 3 comes down to one thing: we just deserve better.