I must be level with you for a moment. I did not play Crackdowns 1 and 2. I was busy killing Sims in my swimming pool for the graveyard on my property. But gazing into the past, I am witness to a franchise that, while not having aged well, amounts to a pretty fun time. The first Crackdown was an addictive combination of parkour and explosions, offering a satisfying third-person experience wherein hordes of NPCs could be wiped out while leaping from one tall building to the next, collecting all those sweet, sweet glowing orbs. Gotta have them all. I can see why the first game was so beloved, and also why the second was lambasted for doing very little with what it had.
And after having spent a week playing the third
At a very first glance, Crackdown 3 is certainly not the best looking of the triple-A giants. While the environment makes use of bright colours and its levels bear a unique aesthetic, they appear to have undergone one too few renderings. The first two Crackdowns were not lookers either and instead opting for substance over style, as it should. This does not warrant a substantial complaint, but then you have the stop-motion CGI work on the game’s human face; one of the lords of the meme, Terry Crews. His reveal in the opening cutscene had me reeling. Surely this could have been done better?
Jumping into the campaign, you will play as Crews. No arguments. Out of all the playable characters in this game, he is essential to this narrative. You will go around plastering his pouting face on the walls of buildings you capture, and project his hologram from spread-out communications towers where it will spread his gospel. Quack quack, motherducker! The man was not joking when he said that this game was his simulator.
Crews headlines as Commander Jaxon, a respected member of the Agency tasked with taking down New Providence, an island metropolis run by the Terra Nova corporation. Terra Nova may bill itself as a humanitarian organisation, but the reality is by far the opposite. They’re oppressing their population and carrying out a devilish scheme that involves the deadly substance Chimera, which they are mining and experimenting with. It is up to you to take Terra Nova down, piece by piece. Taking out each leader of a sub-industry by demolishing their operations and calling them out into the open, each leading up to battling the head of the corporation and the secret weapons at their disposal.
Plot-wise, Crackdown 3 makes more of an effort than its predecessors to establish characters and the motivations for why you are going around blowing the place up. It adds meaning to your actions, despite being as deep as a bucket of toxic waste. It also gives us a reason to hear the badass dialogue that comes from your handler over the radio. The head of the Agency is a man of inspiring words. The campaign’s story is not really intertwined with the first two games, so don’t worry about being confused by the plot, bare as it is.
That dialogue is delivered to you during what is a well-structured campaign. Being new to the franchise, I was pleased to see a gameplay layout that was easy to utilise and navigate. Starting out after the brief tutorial, players can travel to parts of the frankly huge map, to supply points where they can switch out their weapons and vehicles. There is no confusion about what each weapon does. All one needs anyway is an arc rifle in one hand and a mortar launcher in the other, and you are good to go, ready to destroy everything in your path. You can carry one item of a secondary weapon, ranging from an assortment of grenades, to launch pads and ammo-stocking fields. The hand cannon was especially fun too.
These weapons and equipment are available at a series of supply points scattered across the map, with some of them also serving as vehicle depots. Ammo is also spread out across the map, which helps urge players to keep moving. The map is big, so walking everywhere on foot is not feasible. And while you can just loot your enemies’ corpses for guns and pull a Grand Theft Auto for a set of wheels, these points are a big advantage for getting around the place. This is a good thing because navigating the actual map can be frustrating. Setting a waypoint to your chosen objective is not helpful and the vertical map design, combined with overhanging roads and monorails, means that it may take you a while to get where you want to go.
The good structure of choosing your gameplay style and
But there is a flipside. When not on a killing spree, the island of New Providence does not boast much else to do. Most of the objectives are to either kill a certain
There are only so many ways to kill people and so many cars to pick up and chuck around before they blow up. Like the previous Crackdowns, the camerawork is also a bit wonky. Auto-targeting means that it can be tricky to focus a particular hostile NPC when they are lost in a cluster of them. You can try to land the shot by freehand, but that proved downright impossible.
But nevertheless, the collect-a-
Crackdown 3 is exactly you might expect. The parkour and explosions are there, and you will completely submit to the inner drive to collect every glowing skill ball. It is a well thought-out progression that clearly indicates what your priorities should be, and how best you will achieve them.
What will potentially draw players away is not the visuals (and that should never be the case), but the lack of anything above and beyond what they expect from the
Last Updated: February 14, 2019