Crackdown 3 was one of the major game announcements that Microsoft kept teasing for years. The game has also faced some delays and underwent massive changes in the lead up to its launch. Initially, the vision for it was as a multiplayer game focused on crazy destruction with some insane collision physics that were reportedly running on Microsoft’s Azure cloud servers. The original vision had to change and the downgrade was inevitable which is why Crackdown 3 feels like a disappointing release.
Crackdown 3 separates itself into two different gameplay modes. We are not just talking about dividing the gameplay modes in a menu like most traditional game releases, but they actually seem as not just separate download but also have a separate icon. This includes the campaign and a multiplayer mode called Wrecking Zone. Two separate development teams worked on these modes and the results show that it feels inconsistent.
The tone of the campaign is excellent and the game feels polished but as soon as you make the jump to the multiplayer mode, there is a drastic drop in quality. I feel Crackdown 3 made a lot of effort to polish its single-player story mode even though it basically didn’t need to promise much aside from offering some fun destruction. The effort does pay off and the campaign mode is well made with a story that makes you feel like a part of the world.
Crackdown story brings back the Agency and stars Terry Crews in a lead role this time. The events in the game start 10 years after Crackdown 2 and have to deal with a mysterious attack from a corporation called Terra Nova. This corporation is in charge of New Providence, which is a large metropolis city that acts as the main place in Crackdown 3. The central goal in the story is to take down Terra Nova and in typical Crackdown design, you will be fighting bosses all over the city to carry out this task.
Crackdown 3 controls fine but the limitations of the gameplay are felt at times. The animation quality feels really low with the lack of details. Shooting doesn’t feel as satisfying due to the auto lock-on system although this remains a staple of the series. It is even used in the multiplayer Wrecking Zone mode since the gameplay revolves around this limitation. As a result, you will have to enjoy the weapons more than the shooting but it is an intentional design choice.
The game suffers from a sense of repetition with its mission design. Sure, you will soon find that the gameplay is enjoyable but the story fails to keep matters interesting for long. The cutscenes are all highly detailed though, and the visuals look nice. All of this doesn’t make it feel like that this is a low-budget effort. The core of the gameplay loop requires you to find orbs, look for the bosses in each zone of the New Providence city and take them down in a chaotic battle. This goes on until the game ends but is it fun? This depends on your tolerance to the repetition and average controls.
Let me be clear that this was the first Crackdown that I played from the beginning. I did check out the original Crackdown that was given for free on Xbox Live but never gave it more time. As a result, I was trying to look at it as a brand new game instead of something developed with the aim to satisfy the desire of long-time Crackdown fans. Perhaps, the game will appear better to them since they love the series, but it didn’t grab my attention as a result. It was enjoyable but also something that is easily skipped in the current wave of blockbuster game releases.
It was surprising to see how they have implemented drivable vehicles. While this sounds good in theory, the controls are awkward with dumbed down physics. You are better off using the fast travel feature to jump from one place to the next instead of driving there. You do get some more mileage out of it and it looks cool, but that’s the gist of it. They are also used in combat but that is the only good thing about them.
Crackdown 3’s most marketable feature has been its multiplayer mode. Wrecking Zone is a separate download from the campaign mode complete with its own main menu screen. You can jump back and forth between the multiplayer and campaign directly from the main menu, but it still feels strange to see two icons for them on the dashboard.
The multiplayer aspect of Crackdown 3 was perhaps my biggest disappointment with the game. It feels completely bare-bones and like a prototype instead of a fully functional multiplayer. Right now, it lacks a variety of gameplay modes and thus, you will begin to feel the repetition after just a few matches. It also has to do with how players duke it out in this mode which sounds fun due to the potential of destruction, but in most matches, it gets limited to ground-based combat instead of destroying the skyscrapers to kill players.
The one aspect of Crackdown 3 that deserves some praise is how clean the image quality looks on the Xbox One X. It runs flawlessly at native 4K but sadly the frame rate limits to 30 FPS. The good news is that HDR makes the game look so much better due to the bright and colorful color palette that dominates the New Providence city. It really looks like a future metropolis where you are causing destruction, but the restrictions of the game design make it feel like a last-generation game.
Crackdown 3 Review (Xbox One)
Game Reviewed on: Xbox One
Game description: Time to step up your boom to stop crime as a super-powered Agent in Crackdown 3’s sandbox of mayhem and destruction.
Final Score - 6.5/10
Crackdown 3 sticks to its roots and doesn't innovate much from it. The single-player story mode is fun and engaging despite some dated design but the multiplayer is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Crackdown 3 that fails to deliver on the expectations set by earlier gameplay demonstrations.