Crackdown 3 (Xbox One)
Time to step up your boom and stop crime as a super-powered Agent in Crackdown 3's open-world sandbox of mayhem and destruction. Explore the heights of New Providence, tear up the streets in iconic vehicles, and use your powerful abilities to stop a ruthless criminal empire. Play the campaign solo or with a friend in co-op mode or compete in the all-new “Wrecking Zone,” a multiplayer mode where destruction is your ultimate weapon. Online multiplayer requires Xbox Live Gold subscription (sold separately).
Level Up Your Agent
• Level up your super-Agent skills to move as fast as lightning, jump over skyscrapers, hurl trucks at your enemies and protect the city from cold-blooded criminals.
Dangerous Open-World Playground
• Play solo or with a friend in co-op mode to explore an expansive, vertical world to infiltrate crime lords and take down their syndicates.
Take a BOOM Out of Crime
• Lure vindictive crime lords out of hiding by completing objectives, attacking criminal operations and taking out high-value captains.
All-New Multiplayer “Wrecking Zone”
• Crackdown 3 includes the all-new “Wrecking Zone” – an explosive competition with unique modes where destruction is your ultimate weapon against friends and rivals.
OS: Windows 10 version 14393.0 or higher
Processor: Intel i5 3470 | AMD FX-6300
GPU: Geforce 750 Ti | Radeon R7 260X, 2GB RAM
DirectX: DirectX 12 API, Hardware Feature Level 11
OS: Windows 10 version 14393.0 or higher
Processor: Intel i5 4690 | AMD FX-8350
GPU: Geforce 970 or Geforce 1060 | Radeon R9 290X or Radeon RX 480, 4GB RAM
DirectX: DirectX 12 API, Hardware Feature Level 11
February 15, 2019
Xbox One, PC
Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Rating: M (Mature)
Since its inception, the Crackdown franchise has lived a rather bizarre life as a part of Xbox’s stable of first-party games. Microsoft attracted gamers to the original title by including access to the Halo 3 Beta with the game; players discovered a game that stood well on its own merits, providing a colorful, vertically-oriented open world, big explosions, and superhuman traversal. The 2010 sequel, however, was rushed out the door without sufficient development time, and ended up as a disappointment. The poor reception led many fans to wonder if the series might be shelved for good.
Then at E3 2014, Microsoft announced a third installment to the franchise, promising not only a return to what made the original so much fun, but also a showcase of how cloud processing could enhance environmental destructibility. Rumors of development trouble spread as the game faced delays, but Crackdown 3 has finally been released to the public. Does it live up to the hype?
Violence: Crackdown is chock full of guns, explosions, and punches. Oh, and cars, too, which can be used to run over enemies—or which can be picked up and thrown at enemies instead. The game verbally chastises you for killing civilians, but no real punishment is meted out; unlike in previous games where your faction, the Agency, maintained a presence in the area and would attack you for such actions, in Crackdown 3’s new city you are the only official Agency contingent.
Language: There are plenty of curse words in this game, including a variety of four-letter-words, along with some b*tch and g*dd**n thrown in for good measure. Terry Crews (whose voice and likeness are used for one of the game’s playable characters) crams most of the aforementioned words into his monologue in the opening cutscene; afterwards, these words appear sporadically during the commentary that plays during your exploits, and from propaganda towers after you take them over and let Crews spout some additional pro-Agency rhetoric.
Sexual content: Whorehouses are scattered throughout the game world, although you cannot enter them. Upon completing certain objectives, a neon image of Terry Crews’ character doing a pelvic thrust is displayed on the wall of a building.
In Crackdown 3, you once again play as an Agent—essentially a superpowered cop—from the Agency, a collaboration of the world’s police forces. This time around you explore the city of New Providence, which is controlled TerraNova, a megacorporation that acts nice on the outside but secretly harbors nefarious schemes of world domination. Alongside the iconic voice of Charles Goodwin, the Director of the Agency who guides you through the previous games, you also hear from a woman named Echo, who shares the Agency’s goal of bringing down TerraNova, but also possesses a stronger moral compass than that of Goodwin, a man who has always led the Agency in dubious directions. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t play on this contrast enough to add any additional meaning to the story’s otherwise action-centric tone; Goodwin and Echo spend little time debating the purpose of the Agency’s actions, instead opting to simply encourage you in your quest. Goodwin’s commentary is as cheesy and entertaining as it has always been, while Echo feels dull by comparison.
Completing the campaign—which can be played solo or two-player co-op—requires you to take down TerraNova’s top boss, Elizabeth Niemand. In typical Crackdown style, she is bolstered by a handful of subordinate generals who oversee various aspects of TerraNova’s corporate infrastructure; by hunting down subordinates, the bosses higher up the food chain become easier to reach. The high-level bosses can actually be targeted as soon as you finish the tutorial section, but in order to kill the lower tier ones you must first smoke them out by disrupting the aspects of the company that they control. For example, the boss in charge of TerraNova’s production of the deadly Chimera chemical will only emerge once you sabotage enough of his refineries. Wiping out all the bosses and finishing most of the side objectives only took me about fifteen hours, which is short for an open world game selling at premium price.
Visually, Crackdown 3’s world shines with its bright colors, interesting structures, and impressive vistas. Despite this strong art design, however, the technical elements of the game’s visuals—lighting, particle effects, texture detail, and so forth—don’t measure up to those found in many other open world games today. This is quite possibly due to the game’s long development time; while the game’s mechanical polish likely benefitted from the delays, the presentation became dated.
One of the hallmarks of the Crackdown series is its traversal and exploration, and in this regard, Crackdown 3 is everything that it should be. Your character’s soaring, floaty jumps allow you to quickly scale tall buildings and leap from rooftop to rooftop, and the thrusters let you cross greater horizontal distances and dodge enemy fire in mid-air. The city’s massive skyscrapers serve as a wonderful playground for exploration, special time-attack races located throughout the game world test your platforming.
The skill system is back as well. Your character’s abilities are based on five skills: Agility, Strength, Firearms, Explosives, and Driving. Performing actions associated with these skills provides experience in the respective categories; for example, if you weaken an enemy with a few rounds from your pistol and then finish him off with a rocket launcher to the face, you earn a little bit of both Firearms and Explosives EXP when that enemy dies. Agility, which governs how high you can jump and how many times you can use your thrusters in mid-air, is a bit of a special category, as it is the only category that cannot be leveled up through killing enemies. Instead, you acquire Agility experience by tracking down Agility Orbs, which are scattered across the rooftops and other tall locations in New Providence. Of all the activities that Crackdown as a series is known for, finding Agility Orbs—along with Hidden Orbs which contain experience for all five categories—is perhaps the most well-known, and I am happy to report that it is just as delightfully addicting a pastime as ever.
In addition to orbs, you can also find DNA of Agents that died trying to reach New Providence. This is how you unlock new playable characters in the game. Each Agent earns additional EXP in a couple of categories, so depending on which Agent you pick you can increase how quickly you level up particular skills. Since there is no character creator in the game, picking your Agent is also how you determine your character’s gender and physical appearance.
The playable Agents also tie in with another one of Crackdown’s core mechanics: supply points. As you explore the city, you find and recapture supply points from enemy control. These spots serve multiple functions, acting as fast travel points, respawn locations, and places where you can change which Agent you are currently playing, as well as swap weapons in your loadout and refill your ammo. supply points are plentiful throughout New Providence, and combined with the short load times, teleporting around town is a breeze.
In terms of the game’s arsenal, you are capable of carrying three different weapons at a time. These include both ballistic weapons—pistols, machine guns, etc.—and explosive weapons like rocket launchers. You can also carry a gadget with you; some gadgets, like grenades, serve a straightforward offensive purpose, while others provide more unique advantages, such as the launch pad, which boosts you into the air, and the health field, which heals you for a short time as long as you stay within a certain radius of the gadget. The robust selection dovetails nicely with the game’s heavy emphasis on over-the-top action.
While all of the mechanics present in the campaign feel well-polished, driving often seems superfluous to the overall experience. Between your superhuman jumping and the plentiful supply points which serve as fast travel spots, using a car isn’t necessary—and simply isn’t as fun, either. You have to go out of your way to level up your driving skill, too; the best way is to find the stunt rings floating throughout the game world and make creative use of the surrounding environment to drive through them. Sure, you can also run over enemies to earn some driving EXP, but it is quicker and easier to just shoot them. At one point during a combat sequence late in the game, I found myself unable to hop into an enemy tank because my driving skill was too low—so instead, I took advantage of my high strength level to pick up the tank, and proceeded to throw it at the bad guys and watch as everything instantly exploded. The special Agency car—which can be summoned at any time as long as you are near a road—does evolve as you level up your driving skill, transforming into several different types of car each with its own specialties. Again, though, even the Agency car lacks an important role in gameplay.
While Crackdown 3’s campaign delights, its Wrecking Zone multiplayer leaves much to be desired. There are only two game types available: Agent Hunter and Territories. Agent Hunter serves as Crackdown’s version of team deathmatch, although in order for your team to score a point for your kill, someone on your team must pick up the tag left behind by the fallen enemy; if the other team can successfully defend the tag for about ten seconds, the tag disappears and you fail to actually benefit from the kill. In Territories, the teams compete to control several highlighted spots on the map; points accrue for your team as long as you hold an area uncontested. After a while, the highlighted areas will move to other places on the map, thus forcing players to adapt.
Both of these game modes are fine, but that isn’t enough variety to keep players coming back. More important than that, however, is the lack of basic multiplayer features. You can’t invite friends to form a party; each game you are grouped with random players and then spit back into the lobby by yourself when the match ends. Character customization is limited to which Agent from the main game you choose to make yourself look like. Loadouts options are severely limited as well, forcing you to pick from a tiny selection of weapons and requiring you to take one regular gun, one explosive weapon, and one of only two different gadgets.
It is in the multiplayer where Crackdown 3’s much-hyped cloud-powered destruction can be found. The good news is that cloud destruction works as advertised: the floors and walls of structures crumble into pieces as players bombard them with rockets and stomp on them with ground pound attacks, and the framerate is unaffected by all the debris. This even has a clear effect on gameplay; just as in the campaign, the only way to effectively aim at your target is to lock on to it, and as the environment disappears over the course of a match, more lines of sight can be established, leaving players with less cover and increasing the rate of carnage. However, the hectic pace of combat leaves little time for admiring the cloud-based destruction, which ends up as less of a gamechanger than gamers were led to believe.
Practically speaking, it makes sense that the game’s cloud destruction is limited to the multiplayer. After all, much of the fun of the campaign is found in navigating New Providence’s concrete peaks—giving players the ability to raze the city would be counter to the campaign’s overall design. Unfortunately, the cloud is underutilized in Crackdown’s multiplayer. I can’t help but think that games built from the ground up to be online-only—such as MMOs like World of Warcraft or Shared-World titles like Destiny—might be better suited for unlocking the cloud’s potential in gaming.
Despite the disappointing and forgettable multiplayer, Crackdown 3 still entertained me with its humorous and well-crafted, albeit brief, campaign. The things that attracted people to the series in the first place—traversal, orb hunting, and explosive action—return in fine form in the series’ latest installment. As someone who primarily wanted to experience more of the traditional Crackdown experience, I was satisfied, and I can’t accuse the developers of messing up a good formula. At the same time, it’s a shame that it failed to provide any real innovation, either to the genre as a whole or to the franchise itself. And, at least in this case, that’s the difference between a good game and a great one.
+ Traversal feels great
+ Orb hunting is addictive
+ Combat is a ton of fun
+ Charles Goodwin's commentary is entertaining
- Disappointing multiplayer
- Underutilized cloud destruction
- Driving is largely superfluous
- New character Echo isn't interesting