The Crackdown series has had more than a few ups and downs over the years with the initial game delivering an exciting chaos-filled open-world that few games could offer back in 2007 to a somewhat similar but not quite as pleasing sequel in 2010. Perhaps the biggest issue for the series happened to be the developmental hell that Crackdown 3 seemed to find itself in since not only was it announced back in 2014 for release on an earlier console generation, multiple delays have seen other types of games deliver chaotic open worlds move into the spotlight. So now with Crackdown 3 not taking place in a simulation or hell, do the boots of an incredibly powerful Agency soldier still work at creating a fun stomping ground?
Set nearly a decade after the events of Crackdown 2 the Agency and the world have mostly fallen into peaceful times, at least they did until a massive terrorist attack killed power systems all across the world. With most of the planet sent back to the dark ages it quickly became clear that the metropolis of New Providence that still flourished with power and run by the shady organization Terra Nova was likely the cause. With the Agency seeking a way to put down Terra Nova and restore the world to what it once was, the Agents are assembled and quickly disposed of
Despite this horrific setback, one Agent (the player) is resurrected through the help of Echo, a militia scientist, and put the Agency back on the map with Terra Nova’s hold on the island being their primary target. Unfortunately for the Agent, being brought back to life has placed them back to being nearly as weak as a normal human so it may take a bit of time before they can take down the numerous organization members that run the various parts of the island and the sick secrets that lie beneath the “welcoming” facade.
Similar to past entries in the series, those expecting an engrossing storyline or much of a story structure will be disappointed as Crackdown 3 opts for a complete open world that allows players to travel all throughout the city once they clear the introduction sequence. This means that it is entirely possible to travel through areas and take on enemies that would easily kill the Agent but the option is always there. As such players will find that even with the game introducing enemy types and then giving players a bit of a story for each of the enemy commanders, there really isn’t a whole lot of build-up for any of the characters you will eventually face off against.
The only in-depth feeling examination of the characters comes in the form of audio logs scattered throughout the city and even then this only provides a few extra lines of dialogue. As a result players aren’t really encouraged to advance the story at any quick pace, especially since actually advancing the story simply boils down to side-mission style objectives that we will go over in a bit. It is also worth noting that while Terry Crews has been heavily featured in the promotional material and is in the game players shouldn’t expect too much from him outside of the introduction sequence, a number of lines he broadcasts from hacked broadcasting towers, and his likeness as a character as there is no real dialogue for any of the Agents.
Those who are familiar with either Crackdown game won’t be too surprised when they play Crackdown 3 as the game is very much the same as before. Players and their Agent of choice will be dropped into the city of New Providence and pretty much have free reign over how much chaos they want to raise, where they want to do it, and how exactly they want to cause it. As before the game rewards players with individual experience orbs by doing as the game likes to say, getting skills for kills. Players can earn strength points by beating down enemies with melee attacks or throwing objects at them, firearm points by shooting them with ballistic weaponry, explosion points for any deaths caused by things that go boom, and even driving points for running enemies over. The latter is also given points for driving skillfully but generally the hardest to build happens to be agility and for good reason.
Similar to past games, agility orbs as well as hidden orbs that provide a random number of experience points for each category, are scattered throughout the entire map and it is up to the player’s skill at navigating high-places and their keen eyes/hearing to locate them. As you level up these different abilities the Agent will gain strength to throw heavier items, deal more melee/explosive/bullet damage, jump higher and further, and of course be able to take more damage as every level buffs your Agent’s total health.
Using firearms is the same feeling as before as players can lock on and, within short order, unlock the ability to target specific body parts with non-explosive weapons to deal more damage or target weak points and when the player’s strength ability is high enough it is entirely possible to just grab enemy vehicles and throw them into one another causing chain-reaction explosions. Navigating with agility may take some time to build but players will eventually be able to use high jumps and boosts to really move around the world well. Unfortunately driving is an incredibly sluggish feeling affair as even the fanciest vehicles handle incredibly poorly while the special Agency vehicles feel useless outside of the Spider modification that can jump and, if you’re lucky to get it to work, climb up the side of buildings.
Outside of gathering orbs around the city and taking part in foot races or the awful driving races, the primary focus for the Agent will be to take down the numerous Terra Nova facilities. These range from being monorail stations monitored by robots, toxic waste-like material refining, mining, and delivery services, guard stations imprisoning civilians or protecting vehicle stashes, and more. These various locations are vital to destroying the foothold of each Terra Nova leader and making them available for elimination but unfortunately none of these feel really special in any way. All of these activities boil down to the same exact thing with a handful of them literally being all right next to each other making for an experience that can grow rather dull real quickly. The actual boss battles do spice things up a bit as most of their encounters feature special little mechanics that you will need to focus on to eliminate them but the tedious nature of eliminating all of their specific stronghold style locations is a drag, especially since so few of these targets feel innovative or unique in any way.
The chaos of taking on numerous enemies with your wide array of abilities and firearms is truly something exhilarating in Crackdown 3 but also something that eventually ends up feeling trivialized after you begin to simply shrug off waves of enemies and even lockdowns that occur after you’ve gained enough wrath from any of the three Terra Nova factions. There are numerous weapons in the game and you will find most of them simply by picking up from defeated enemies or from special locations on the map before they are permanently added to your available loadout. Despite the amount of weapons available the balancing is incredibly off so it is highly likely that once you find a set of weapons you like, you’ll end up carrying those three without mixing it up too much unless you find a new weapon which generally the player will want to try out at least a little as there are some truly crazy guns available in this game, including ones that tear open holes in time and suck enemies into them.
Players will be able to play the main game in co-op if they choose but the other multiplayer option comes in the form of Wrecking Zone. This separate download pits players against one another in fully destructible environments but don’t expect too much from this mode at the moment. There currently are only two game modes in the form of Agent Hunt where teams kill one another and gather emblems from corpses and with Territories where teams gain points from holding specific parts of the map. The fast and unpredictable nature of the multiplayer modes can be a bit fun but this quickly wears down due to the incredibly simplistic combat and incredibly disappointing destruction system that is far from what one would expect.
Visuals & Audio
One thing that you have to give Crackdown 3 some credit for is designing an interesting looking and extremely colorful looking cityscape to explore. The city of New Providence has numerous little areas that are unique in design and there is a real divide between certain areas that you can explore. Sure the game’s overall appearance may not feel like one would have expected from a game released in 2019 as the character models can be rather ugly at times and the textures of most of the buildings and vehicles are rough but the entire game is incredibly colorful. Traveling through the city as the sun sets and allows the neon multi-colored world come to life is a real treat and no matter how many explosions or action packed the game’s combat ended up being (which can get really crazy when fighting against max security response teams) the game never experiences slowdown.
As mentioned before Terry Crews is little more than a small addition in the game as the character dialogue is nearly non-existent as the primary voice work comes from either your Agency handler, Echo, or from the villains themselves as they make threats or squabble with one another. The music is handled decently well though don’t expect too much new in this regard as the game chooses to make great use of the familiar tunes and sound effects fans of the series are familiar with rather than introduce too many new background tracks.
In many ways Crackdown 3 feels like the same old Crackdown from back in 2007 but in many ways it does little to grow beyond that despite being made in 2019. The chaotic firefights and growth of the player’s Agent make for the most enjoyable parts of the game but unfortunately the barebones story, incredibly repetitive objectives, and a world that, while filled with fun little area designs, has little to offer but agility orbs in the form of collectibles and ends up feeling a bit empty as a result. Crackdown 3 is at its best when chaos reigns and jumping and traveling through the city while raining havoc upon Terra Nova’s goons is great in short bursts but the lack of real ambition to grow the game beyond what it was over a decade ago holds it back.