Crackdown 3 (Xbox One Review)
Exploration is paramount in games. Basking in your surroundings, burrowing in every crevice, and climbing to the tallest point on the map are frequent goals for nearly every open world game you can think of. Some games opt to incentivise this journey with achievements, quests, or even collectibles. And then some do all of that and build a game around it, like Crackdown 3.
Just like the original, Crackdown 3 opens up its world as a playground and encourages you to run, jump, and drive around while causing as much disruption as possible, justified disruption. In the wake of Crackdown 2, New Providence has found itself in the clutches of Terra Nova, an evil corporation that has a monopoly on the entirety of New Providence, and it’s up to the Agency to dismantle their hierarchy. And that’s about it for the story. There’s some figureheads from specific divisions you need to hunt down accompanied by some really nice illustrated cutscenes. The most I can say about it is that it’s serviceable. You know the story is there and the presentation almost covers up for the vapidity of the actual story. Even as I try to write this, days removed from finishing the campaign, I can’t remember a singular moment that stood out.
The stand out moments, like finding you first agility orb or the adrenaline accompanied with surviving a hard fought onslaught, are intrinsically tied to the gameplay. Somehow, someone somewhere decided that vehicles are still important when you can launch yourself 100ft in the air from standing, so I guess they are also about if you really want to feel horribly underwhelmed by opting to drive in a puddle of custard in a vehicle that has the structural integrity of a damp munchiebox. Even with all the will in the world, the gameplay will lose its shine eventually.
There’s only so much running, jumping, and shooting you can do. Eventually your hopes and dreams come crashing down to the ground just as quickly as you hiked him up with those pulsating calves of yours. There are a few attempts to break up the monotony, such as the massive radio towers that act as vertical puzzles and the various orbs scattered throughout the world, but both have a very finite shelf life. There comes a point where you realise there’s probably just too much of each. Obviously you can spice it up with agility missions or driving missions, but you’re still running and you’re still driving.
On top of that there’s a load of lacklustre gameplay. To be frank, it’s almost the exact same as the previous games. Just like the mobility options, you can opt to punch a few dudes in the mouth and you can pick up a few larger obstacles and chuck them about, but who the fuck is doing that when you have a near infinite ammo rocket launcher? Nobody. Some aspects of the gameplay just totally outshine others and even then those concepts are now dated or better executed elsewhere.
The same can be said for the online features. Both coop and the online competitive modes suffer greatly from poor connections and an even poorer netcode. You’ll haphazardly snap back and forth as a duo trying to overthrow this evil empire and as a team there’s so much going on that the whiplash increase so much that your agent’s horribly muscular neck can’t even withstand the velocity of the frequent jerks.And that’s if you can find enough willing players to humour a few online games. Throughout a week of searching post launch, numbers have dwindled to a point that one of the two game modes available is as empty as your fridge a day before payday. It’s disheartening, but not unexpected. Simply put, Crackdown 3 doesn’t lend itself well to the premise of competitive online in the first place and the decision to prevent you inviting friends to play with you has damn near killed it.
There’s not much else to say about Crackdown 3. It’s the most mediocre game you’ll play this year. It does nothing great and it does nothing memorable. The best it can do feels decades behind the current plethora of open world games and the previously lauded aspects of its gameplay and now tired and worn out. Even if you did somehow enjoy the campaign, it’s like 4-5 hours long too so there’s very little chance that you’ll be with it for long.