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Review: Crackdown 3 (Xbox One)

5

Average

Ever had a game that made you look down at your controller to see what console you’re on, check your calendar to see what year it is, and make you feel like you’ve just been teleported back to the early 2000s? That’s what Crackdown 3 did to me, and I’m sure many who have jumped into the chaotic sandbox game for the Xbox platform will experience the same. Sumo Digital took some time to get to this point where they felt it was ok to finally deliver on their long awaited promise of a new Crackdown experience. Unfortunately, it feels the time spent on the new offering doesn’t equate to the time Terry Crews spent in the gym.

I’ve got the power…

…but no substance.

Since the last Crackdown featured on the Xbox 360, technology has advanced at a rapid pace and many imagined titles such as these would have grown in massive leaps in all aspects of the game. Controls, visuals, frame rates, audio, etc. are the keys areas where we expect these improvements to happen. And with the Unreal engine as its platform, you have already set certain expectations.

When you get into the world of New Providence as a newly regenerated agent, compared to the last Crackdown title, it feels like more of the same, just over a decade later.

But when you get into the world of New Providence as a newly regenerated agent, compared to the last Crackdown title, it feels like more of the same, just over a decade later. You have a few agents at your disposal, but let’s face it, you WILL play as Terry Crews’ character, because, it’s Terry Crews. Why would you want to be anyone else?…

Anyway, each of the agents has different stats based on what kind of mayhem you choose to unleash on the world. And the enemy faction in the form of the Terra Nova organisation lead by Elizabeth Niemand (maar sy is nie niemand nie), and her henchmen heading up various resource conglomerates of the island city, try their level best to put up a decent fight most of the time. It’s up to you, Commander Jaxon (or whoever you choose from the representatives of The Agency) to bring down the greedy corporate kingpin by simply showering everything with bullets and blowing things to smithereens.

Wait a minute, this sounds like DLC for an old game, doesn’t it?

Yes, that’s what you expect from a sandbox game, but, we know Crackdown 3 to be more of a platformer as well. So, sandbox-platformer. And seeing as the market is already saturated with games that offer fresher mechanics, engines and design concepts, Crackdown 3 feels like it’s still stuck in the year 2000 and late both visually and mechanically. The same can be said for the campaign element that can arguably be finished in seven hours, and with another run through with a high-level character, probably close to three hours. This is because it’s too simple in its nature that it doesn’t have many things that grab your attention or stick with you. Except for the little level boss intros. They are nice.

Orbsession

One thing that I’m glad made it into Crackdown 3 that got most fans of the franchise returning for more, is to gather those pretty glowing orbs. Mmm, agility orbs. The thing that turns you from beat cop to superhero. Unfortunately, as mentioned before with reference to checking what year you are in, the controls have not been updated to 21st century standards. In fact, if you haven’t played Crackdown before, you’d immediately feel like this game was made in a by-gone era. Clunky, imprecise, sticky, and slightly delayed. That’s just during the single-player campaign mode. The input responses time goes through the roof in co-op and multiplayer. Press jump now, jump later. It becomes exceptionally frustrating when you play with a friend and you’re jumping for an orb only to watch your character walk off the side of a skyscraper and hurtle towards the ground.

If the input lag wasn’t as severe, I’d go back with a friend or three. But, it’s not. It ruins the platforming experience and you’re better off trying to deal with it on your own. If you have played it before though, then you should be used to the Crackdown 3 control scheme and understand just what obstacles you’ll be facing.

The combat system is virtually unchanged and you still have quite a destructive arsenal at your disposal. The aim-lock feature can prove to be your best and worst enemy simultaneously. It’s literally hit or miss when you engage with enemies, but you can make up for that with devastating ground pounds and skull bashing melee combos. Rocket launcher? Of course. Rapid fire pistols, SMGs and assault rifles. Yup. Grenades? Boom-boom always included. Energy and plasma based weapons? You guessed it. There’s something for everyone. The only gripe is that there’s not enough ammo to go around. I mean, if you’re not collecting orbs you’re destroying everything, right? Why put a limit to ammo then?

A magnificent multiplayer mess

At this point, I still have no clue how the Wrecking Zone got signed off on. It feels likes a shoe horned mechanic that could have been a lot more if they had just taken the time to think things through. The horrific net code doesn’t help it much either. That’s just one part of the headache. The other is the fact that they still have not sorted out the issue with playing with friends in this mode. It’s completely random and you and your mates can’t jump in it together.

It’s 2019, man. There are F2P games out there that have these features locked down. The game is close to a decade in production and it doesn’t have that part of multiplayer working right. At least the co-op campaign doesn’t have that issue, but then the lag will give you an unexpected migraine anyway.

So many cracks, you’d swear it’s a crack dealer

I’m referring to both the number of wisecracks Terry spews and the Agency operatives spew, and the cracks evident in the game. The visuals may have been beefed up a bit, but there are quite a few moments where framerates drop, visual pop-in occurs too often, the story feels like pure narrative to your destruction derby run, and the controls feel like you are back on your Xbox 360 going through another play-through. Wait a minute, this sounds like DLC for an old game, doesn’t it?

If it wasn’t for my love of Terry Crews’ personality and complimentary beautiful buff beastly body and the great orb hunt, Crackdown 3 would have been less palatable and an even bigger chore to get through. I have to admit, there was a moment where I welcomed the load shedding that occurred as it got me away from the game and briefly ended my frustration with the lack of innovation and reasonable upgrade from its predecessors. With outdated controls that can’t rival any platformer or sandbox game of this generation, Crackdown 3 is like an old dog trying to run with the young pups. And you know the saying about old dogs and new tricks…

Good

  • Terry Crews, baby
  • Get all the orbs
  • It's Crackdown for the Crackdown fans...

Bad

  • But somehow, it's less Crackdown than we expected
  • I never knew you could make games without a decent story to follow
  • Need a reason to break a controller? The online lag will help with that!

Summary

Going up against some stiff competition in the sandbox arena, the destructive power and nostalgia that come with Crackdown 3 doesn't do enough to make it stand out, or even stand up, to the competitors. Even though they took some time to make sure we get it, the cracks are too evident in its foundation and it makes us wish they cracked down on these imperfections.
5

Average

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