In today’s world, video games are often partially completed and released as ‘early access’ or are plagued with countless delays. Microsoft Studios’ highly anticipated Crackdown 3 is no stranger to this video game curse.
Announced in 2014 and originally set to release in 2016, Crackdown 3, the sequel to 2010’s Crackdown 2, was later confirmed to be an Xbox One X launch title on 7 November 2017 but was ultimately delayed several times until finally on 15 February 2019, the game released in full, both on its own and on Xbox Game Pass.
So how does a sequel title, that’s taken nearly a decade to launch, fair on release?
Before jumping into the finer details of the game, I must commend the developers and the team at Microsoft Studios for acquiring the man of many talents, Terry Crews, for this title. I’ve not played the previous two Crackdown games and therefore had no affinity for Crackdown 3 when it was announced. However, upon watching the trailer for the first time at E3 2017, I was beyond excited. I love Terry Crews!! He brought so much energy to the trailer and combined with the graphics, I was sold.
One of the many things I love about Xbox is the way they market and promote their titles. From enlisting A-list celebrities to play the game live on stream to having brilliant activations around the world, Xbox goes big for their games and manages to create a great deal of hype beyond just the game itself. The promotional activities for Crackdown 3 was no different, with the team enlisting the help of Terry Crews himself to partake in an Xbox Sessions play-through of Crackdown 3, as well as say some rather ‘choice’ words to the gaming community, including my personal favourite, which can be viewed below, courtesy of the Xbox team in Australia.
Crackdown 3 is coming to @XboxGamePass this Friday!
— Xbox Australia (@XboxAustralia) February 12, 2019
Crackdown 3 comes in two forms, a campaign mode and multiplayer Wrecking Zone mode. This review will focus on the former as I’ve yet to play the Wrecking Zone.
Crackdown 3’s campaign is an open-world, action-adventure game that features cartoonish, over-the-top antics that I, personally, have yet to experience in a video game. Players play as a souped-up ‘Agent’ tasked with destroying the facilities of an evil organisation that has taken over control of New Providence, the city in which the game is set. Players are able to play the campaign either on their own or cooperatively with another friend and utilise various weapons and vehicles to assist them in preventing the organisation from carrying out their evil plans.
My experience playing as Commander Jaxon (because why wouldn’t you play as Terry Crews?) has been a lot of fun. Narratively speaking, the story is basic and predictable, in keeping with the kind of narrative one would expect from an outrageously wild superhero-like action video game. The Agents are, obviously, the good guys, and the organisation, are the bad guys, consisting of key figures, or leaders, that have established their own criminal factions in various parts of the city.
Seeing that I struggle with most games, being highly uncoordinated and impatient, I played Crackdown 3 on the ‘Rookie’ level, which is the easiest difficulty. Fear not, seasoned gamers, you’re able to select from a variety of difficulty levels to suit your own play-styles.
Gameplay on the easiest difficulty was a lot of fun. Being able to shoot enemies with a variety of guns, including those that literally burn or poison them, appealed to my inner third-person shooter fan. You can also get into a whole host of vehicles to travel between distances, complete races or perform fancy tricks to level up your driving skills, something which reminded me a little of GTA meets The Simpsons Hit & Run, because let’s face it, as a noob, I ended up crashing into EVERYTHING!
Then of course there was leaping off tall buildings and jumping all over the cityscape to collect orbs, loot and travel from place to place, which made me feel like I was playing Spider-Man on steroids, which is a good thing!
There really isn’t too much thinking involved when it comes to playing Crackdown 3, which some gamers may be put off by. I, however, welcome these kinds of games as it’s perfect for those instances when you’ve had a long hard day and just want to vent out frustrations or play something enjoyable to de-stress. The explosive destructions and wave of enemies to eliminate allow for an experience that provides a level of fun that becomes so entrenched within you that it becomes impossible to put the game down. After all, what’s a good video game if there’s no fun involved?
That being said, I’ll be honest, there are moments where the game is slow, feels repetitive and lacks that pizzazz. If I’m being critical, this is likely due to a number of factors. Firstly, the game’s soundtrack goes in and out of gameplay. For example, there are moments where I’ll be driving around and there will be silence apart from soft driving sounds coming from the car and general city ‘buzz’. It would have been much more epic, and in keeping with the theme of the game, if there was some ‘sick beats’ played in the background. Remember how awesome and memorable Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 was? The reason the game was so good was essentially due to the incredible soundtrack that played as you skated around various locations.
Secondly, the game does feel dated. Compared to other new releases of 2019, Crackdown 3 does feel more like a remastered version of an older release rather than a completely new and original game. While this didn’t bother me at all, it may be rather frustrating for others, especially those who would have paid the standard cost of a brand new game to play Crackdown 3.
That being said, the game is available for free to Xbox Game Pass members, which makes the game an affordable, value for money title.
More so than the gameplay, what I loved most about Crackdown 3 is the animation style. The vibrant, comic-bookish animation gives the game a unique look that reminded me of the kind of animation style in Sony Pictures’ award winning Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse film. The vast variety of colours and bright lights added visual delight when playing the game. The cut-scenes especially made it feel more like you were watching a comic book adaptation than playing a game.
Of course, what really sold the game was the ‘Terry Crews-ness’ included. Crews’ various quips in game made for a few good laughs that added another layer of fun to the already wild ride that Crackdown 3 provided. Watching Commander Jaxon beef up with more muscle as you level up through the game was an added bonus.
Crackdown 3 may not be the polished game of the year that fans were expecting but there’s no doubt that the game provides the perfect escape for gamers. The outrageousness of the game and the loud, over-the-top explosions and destruction make for a thrilling experience. This, combined with the fact that the game is basically a Terry Crews simulator allows Crackdown 3 to be a game that’s pure, unbridled fun, that all gamers should have a go on.
Crackdown 3 is now available as a Play Anywhere and Xbox Game Pass title.