Crackdown 3 Review – Xbox One X

It’s been a long and tumultuous path for the Crackdown series since it’s announcement all the way back in 2014. At the time, it was set to usher in a new wave of technology for the Xbox One utilizing the power of cloud based computing. The tech demos for the level destruction in the multiplayer component shown over that time was truly impressive but multiple delays and years later gamers began to doubt whether or not they’d be able to deliver a great gaming experience. I’m happy to say that nearly 5yrs later Crackdown 3 arrives. Has all this time away been good for series? Let’s take a look.

Taking place 10 years after the events of Crackdown 2 an unknown source brings down the global power grid forcing The Agency back into action and on the move to the city “New Providence” to take on the mysterious organization Terra Nova. Crackdown 3 maintains the same formula from previous games. Take down local crime bosses by destroying the locations  they’re in charge of and they’ll come out of hiding to take you on in a final battle. While battling your way around town, agents will level up their 4 different skills (Driving, Agility, Explosives and Weapons)making them the biggest and baddest Agents possible by performing specific actions to that skill.

There’s also a huge number of agility orbs, special orbs, driving challenges and agility challenges scattered throughout the city to keep you from getting bored and to help you level up. Personally I only did a handful of extra challenges. I just didn’t have enough time to get them all done but to be completely honest, I found the driving mechanics to be lackluster and frustrating. They controls just didn’t feel as clean or refined as I would have liked. I had to restart multiple times due to just a slight correction 1 way resulting in me crashing and therefore losing time. The driving isn’t even really that necessary in my opinion. When you can jump and climb the city faster than driving there, I wouldn’t be sad to see that mechanic go away for the next game. On top of the orb finds and challenges, you can find detention centers to free the locals who fight back against Terra Nova but the real fun is seeking out the propaganda towers. These towering monstrosities are just towers where where you jump and climb your way to the top to shut it down to mobilize the local militias but the height of them can be dizzying at times and it just works well. I found them to be very satisfying. There’s also a great variety of weapons to be found but I have to admit that I pretty well stuck with the Pulse beam right from the beginning. It’s maybe a bit overpowered as I locked onto targets and basically melted them with the constant stream of light.

While working your way through a crime boss, you’ll need to destroy a specific number of locations which brings them out to fight you in an epic boss battle. The lower level bosses will just come out of hiding on the ground floor and start fighting you. They’re pretty standard fare but a good time will be had there but it’s the mid level bosses I think people are going to appreciate. Once you’ve got them open you’ll make your way them and they’ll be at the top of yet another skyscraper. In there you’ll battle waves of bad guys, jump and climb your way to the final epic battle. It’s not particularly “difficult” because the enemy AI is rather poor and you can at times just hide behind a wall, regen your shields and then come back out guns a blazing but it can be time consuming. Some of the boss climbs are large and maze-like where it can be easy to find yourself turned around wondering where you zigged when you should have zagged. Still despite the poor AI you feel a nice sense of accomplishment after taking down the bosses.

Graphically the game is sharp looking. I don’t care what anyone says the graphics of Crackdown 3 are perfect for the series. It runs clean and smooth, it’s bright, vibrant and looks great in 4K HDR. In the Multiplayer mode, the graphics are somewhat muted and far less impressive but I think that’s purely to make the cloud based destruction work better which brings me to the online MP.

For starters you can play through the campaign with a friend in co-op. It works great. You can opt to use your agent that you’ve been working on (obviously nearly everyone is going to use Terry Crews)or you can opt to start a new agent with your friend. If you have a friend who has completed the game and built up a powerful agent, they can likely rip you through the game in a couple short hours for some quick and dirty achievements but honestly you’d only be cheating yourself if you did that. With that out of the way, let’s talk about what everyone has been talking about for the last 5 years. The online MP game types using the power of the cloud for physics modelling and rendering of the completely destructible environment. It’s there and it works great. At least I presume it’s working pretty great. The multi-level buildings are in fact completely destructible and the results are super cool. I love the potential for this technology but to me it still felt bit more like a tech demo. Something we would normally be shown as a new technology for other developers to license.

The way the release worked for us, we were given the campaign and then just yesterday they opened up Wrecking Zone to us. Totally understandable since they were still running tests over the weekends beta test. The problem is I was only able to get in about an hour of gameplay during the allotted timeframe yesterday and I spent a good half of it waiting for a lobby. I didn’t notice any stutter steps while playing Wrecking Zone but I didn’t find the game types to be overly compelling in the small sampling size I got from it. I think it’s rather unfair of me to comment on the Wrecking Zone’s fun factor given how little I got to play it but my first impressions weren’t great. Coupled with the boneheaded oversight that omitted party gameplay with friends makes it really hard to feel like I’d want to spend much time in there. The destructible environments are pretty cool but lack any real great detail but I’m confident with more time this technology will get used more and more and be the revolution it promises to be.

All in all the game is better than average but I wouldn’t expect it to be a world beater. I had fun with the title and got exactly what i wanted out of it. Large, over the top bombastic battles, explosions and Terry Crews.

Vibrant large world looks great and just fits with the series
Propaganda towers are fantastic and fun
Boss battles and skyscraper climbs were standouts for me
The cloud based compute appears to work well

Online MP is pretty shallow in the small time I had with it. I don’t foresee it keeping players coming back day after day
Once you complete the game, unless you’re a collector, you’re likely not coming back week day after day.

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