The most notable thing about Crackdown 3 will be its delayed launch. It’s inevitable. Even if the game was a stunning masterpiece, there’s no way that it could live up to five years of expectations. At the bare minimum, you’d hope that it improves on the formula from the 2007 original. You’d hope that it follows up on that game’s plot twist, or did anything interesting at all. The final version of Crackdown 3 does absolutely none of these things. It’s a glorified remake, a short and sweet adventure that’s both hard to recommend and undoubtedly a lot of fun.
Whether that fun is worth your time depends entirely on what ecosystem you happen to be a part of. If you’re already a subscriber to Xbox Game Pass, or you ever find yourself subscribing in the future, Crackdown 3 is a fun way to blow a weekend. It’s got a paper-thin plot about taking down an evil corporation, and you do this the same way you did in the original. Cause chaos, draw out lieutenants and work your way up the ladder. It’s similar to Middle-earth‘s Nemesis system, only infinitely more straightforward and static.
Clearing out every bad guy and reclaiming the city will take little more than six hours. Maybe seven if you want to be a completionist, although I can’t imagine many people making the city of New Providence their favorite stomping ground. Sure, you’ll get an initial thrill as you unlock Crackdown‘s arsenal and blow through mission after mission. The basic shooting and action are just as good as ever. The colorful metropolis shines in 4K on Xbox One X. The game really puts its best foot forward.
However, that initial novelty runs dry fast. After a few hours, you’ll be grinding through the same handful of mission types over and over. At least they’re over quickly, as each mission rarely takes over five minutes on its own. It’s entirely possible that you’ll accidentally finish a mission just running through the open world and shooting. They’re that threadbare, feeling more like errands transplanted from a more robust open world.
The more substantial tasks involve platforming up towers, which does take some effort. Air control is pretty generous, and it’s fun to scramble your way up buildings and claim agility orbs. Sure, hunting down green spheres isn’t going to inspire the same passion it did twelve years ago. Still, it’s enjoyable to puzzle out some of the more hidden of the bunch. Plus, it’s worth the effort to level up your agent and see some of the late game skills.
It’s a shame that Crackdown 3 sticks so heavily to the formula of the first game. It means that a lot of the game’s best features remain locked away behind its “Skills for Kills” system—the black hole grenades, a second air dash, the tank-like vehicle transformation. Crackdown 3 should embrace the over the top attitude of its frontman and let you play with all its toys from the get-go. There are certainly some ridiculous guns throughout, including a rather broken pair of laser cannons. It just needed more.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that Crackdown 3 feels embarrassed by Terry Crews. What other explanation could there be for the bizarre audio mixing on display? Despite going out and getting an actor known for the type of weird one-liners that fit perfectly in a Crackdown game, they’ve seemingly muted their main hero. You can just barely hear Terry Crews scream about chemical warfare while avoiding goo grenades. You can hear him just fine in the opening cutscene, and you can hear all the other voices babble about meaningless story beats. However, the combat quips, the thing that could significantly improve the gameplay experience? Reduced to a barely audible whisper. At least the Agency director still has some over the top lines to share from time to time.
Once you finish your fling in the main campaign, you have the option of loading up Wrecking Zone. This is Crackdown 3‘s multiplayer, one of many things that remind you just how long this game has been in development. You’ve got an eight-player setup with three maps and two modes. One is deathmatch with token pickups a-la Call of Duty‘s Kill Confirmed. The other is a territorial control mode that takes a long time to matchmake into. Like the rest of Crackdown 3, this is all functional but outclassed by a lot of other games. It’s honestly nostalgic to load into a pure deathmatch game with this little going on, but that’s a personal thing. The grim reality is you’re most likely going to be out of luck with this mode unless you plan on playing in the next few weeks.
Despite everything I’ve said, despite the weird audio mixing and the repetitive missions and the barebones presentation, I don’t dislike Crackdown 3. In fact, I really enjoyed my time with it. In an age where every big release overflows with expensive gold editions and epic scope, Crackdown 3 feels novel. Even its failures contribute to this success. Games just aren’t broken like this anymore; they aren’t this mindless. Playing Crackdown 3 is a reflex for an experienced gamer, a relaxing affair where you know exactly what to do at all times.
In this way, Crackdown 3 snatches victory from the jaws of defeat. Not every game needs to be a part of your life for months at a time. Not every game needs to be eying your wallet at every turn, hopeful that you’ll pump in one more quarter. Video games need more junk food. We need more weekend flings, more unimportant guff, more nonsense. Crackdown 3 is exactly that, a forgettable romp that offers fun with no strings attached. In the coming age of streaming, I feel that we’ll see a lot more Crackdown 3s filling out those various subscriptions. That doesn’t have to be such a bad thing.
TechRaptor reviewed Crackdown 3 on Xbox One X and Windows 10 with an Xbox Game Pass subscription paid for by the reviewer.
Crackdown 3 is forgettable, broken in places, extremely short and set in its ways. Still, I'd be lying if I told you I didn't have a hell of a lot of fun playing it.
- Bombastic Weaponry
- Tight Platforming and Jumping
- Over The Top Voice Clips
- Bizzare Audio Mixing
- Extremely Short Length
- Repetitive Missions