Crackdown 3 Campaign Review – Fun And Boisterous, But Disappointing Overall

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Cracking Down On Repetition And Monotony

 

The Crackdown series has consistently provided players with over-the-top mayhem and action oriented gameplay over the years. While the first two installments set the general tone for what to expect in a Crackdown title, Crackdown 3 is an example of what happens when a series sticks too close to home and fails to come up big in any substantial way. Maybe it was the massive hype and over-anticipation that did Crackdown 3 in. Maybe it was the shortcomings of the Cloud based engine. Or, and perhaps most notably, it’s the stale formula in dire need of a facelift if there’s any chance of a future for the series.

 

Check Out Our Video Review Below:

 

 

Welcome To New Providence

In this romp through the island of New Providence, players will select their role as an agent from The Agency. Equipped with a leaping booster pack, a constantly growing arsenal of fierce weaponry and the urge to rake in as many colored power orbs as humanly possible, Crackdown 3 tackles hard-nosed action near effortlessly. Unfortunately, it’s the mundane countless objectives that bog down the experience. There’s some inconceivable thrills to be had as a destructive, chaos inducing agent; it just doesn’t last very long.

Players jump directly into the colorful island of New Providence, which has been overrun by the corrupt militia organization, Terra Nova. Your job is to wipe out any and all facilities, soldiers or propaganda associated with the terrorist faction, and the game doesn’t waste any time shoving you right into the action. Almost immediately, players are introduced to the fast, auto-aiming gunplay which is ripe for taking out loads of Terra Nova enemies. It’s this relentless action that becomes a staple for the entire game, but it’s the game’s repetitive nature that never allows Crackdown 3 to fully realize into something special.

What repeats throughout the campaign of Crackdown 3 is plenty of gun-toting, bullet firing mayhem paired with moderately enjoyable platforming and rather timid vehicle piloting. There’s also mildly frustrating architecture scaling, massive object heaving, and, did I mention guns? Crackdown 3 continues the series’ trend of over-the-top gameplay, following the previous entries formula almost too accurately. So accurately, in fact, that the third installment never even gave itself a chance to evolve into something truly worthwhile. Sure, it’s incredibly satisfying to mow down waves of enemy troops while dodging incoming fire and boosting through the skies like an airborne bluebird. But let’s make something perfectly clear: AAA games of this caliber, in this era, need to push the industry into bold new directions if they want to stick out. Unfortunately once more, Crackdown 3 appears to be moving in the wrong direction; or at the very least, in cruise control.

 

The world of New Providence expresses vivid color and plenty of vertical exploration, but unfortunately isn’t very dynamic.

 

The game essentially places players into a repeating loop of side objectives with the only real “missions” being nothing more than beefed up versions of certain core objectives. Agents will spend their time hacking various control panels in order to blow corporate facilities sky-high, blast their way through mountains of enemies, liberating resistance members allied with The Agency and any other sort of Terra Nova extermination. You won’t find any main mission path in this outrageous single player campaign (which can actually be played in co-op), as every menial side objective pushes players closer to the overall completion.

 

So Much To Do, So Little Variation

Perhaps this lack of main mission direction is a big reason as to why the narrative remains virtually uninteresting. The story does absolutely nothing new in terms of plot twists (there’s actually no plot twist at all) providing players a straight shot through the campaign. You’re given an overall objective of wiping out the Terra Nova leaders who each run a specific terrorist group within the organization. You’ll continue to work your way up the Terra Nova leadership tree until you have only one enemy remaining, which is the final boss. Don’t expect any riveting narratives to sweep you off your feet, as Crackdown 3 is about as plain and simple storytelling can get.

Forgetting all about the lackluster narrative, Crackdown 3 does offer some small dose of enjoyment. While the mandatory auto-aim feature may nag most of the more “hardcore” gamers out there, it does feel a bit essential considering you’re playing as an all-powerful agent dipping in the realms of super heroism. And with the illustrious selection of weapons to discover throughout the world, it feels pretty good to wipe out hordes of baddies with a strong swipe of the fiery pulse beam, or mowing them down with the coveted minigun. There’s tons of weaponry to choose from, which makes the core gameplay of “bullets, bullets, and more bullets” a solid good time.

And if blasting your way through enemy locations is beginning to wear thin, you can always take up one of the many races discovered across the map. While the standard on-foot checkpoints can be a thoroughly enjoyable experience utilizing a combination of floaty platforming and quick boost-dodging through shortcuts, the vehicle driven checkpoint races leave something to be desired. Every vehicle you find in Crackdown 3 is driveable, but most of them feel relatively similar; and it’s not exactly a good feeling.

 

Of course, as players increase their stats more options in combat will become available – like the ability to heave larger and larger objects across the screen.

 

Mind-Numbing Gameplay

Getting behind the wheel of one of the many oddly designed, almost futuristic vehicles negates the hassles of running and climbing your way across the map. However, the vehicle control is mostly stiff, yet, produces an almost slippery feeling when taking corners. It’s a rather peculiar feeling having your car feel so tight when driving through traffic, but can easily find yourself sliding off-road when attempting you take turns at faster than average speeds. Not that each vehicle exhibits speed in any different manner. The speedometer may show players traveling at different speeds, but no car feels overly quicker than the next, nor slower.

Whether you shear through enemy reinforcements, hopping from rooftop to rooftop or rip-roaring through the city streets, players will be earning different colored power orbs. These orbs are the meat of making your agent stronger, as each color is tied in to a specific performance stat with your character. Green agility orbs increase your, well, agility, along with overall platforming and other on-foot traversal techniques. These can be simple and often entertaining to track down, as there’s plenty scattered across New Providence; but begins to feel like an excruciating task the further you dive into the game.

Other stats and abilities will increase by collecting other types of orbs, as well – they’re just procured in a different manner. With every enemy slaughter via gun or firearm, the agent’s firearm skill raises. Pulling off insane stunts increases your driving skill. And the more you raise your skills, the more abilities you unlock. Want some incredibly powerful explosive ammo? Level your explosive skill all the way and reap the benefits of more dangerous explosive rounds. Sick of simply running Terra Nova scum over with your Agency vehicle? Raise your driving skill enough and you’ll find yourself equipped with mounted gun on top of said Agency vehicle.

While the skill system does offer a sense of accomplishment and thorough progression, there’s no real sense of personalization. There’s no active skill tree, rather, a linear path to unlocking all skills offered. The game forces players to play a specific way, and in a genre where more and more titles are offering player customization, it’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow if you’re looking to play another way. Of course, if you’re diving into the world of Crackdown 3, you should fully expect to dive into an experience where senseless destruction is the only method of success.

 

While there’s not much in the case of mission diversity, there are a few side objectives to keep players busy throughout their time in New Providence.

 

Diagnosis

Crackdown 3 is perfect for the arcade, bullet-firing enthusiasts who are just looking to shed some time with mindless mayhem. The arcade approach offers plenty of over-the-top fun, but fails to grasp any amount of riveting story, narratives or diverse selection of objectives. If you’re looking for an experience riddled with the same style of action to keep you mind-numbingly busy for hours on end, then Crackdown might be what you’ve been waiting for. Expecting anything more, and I’m afraid you’ll be severely dissatisfied.

 

Final Grade

With the amount of hype from the Crackdown 3 community over the years, it’s disappointing to see the game miss the mark on so many levels. While the third installment improves on the shortcomings highlighted in Crackdown 2, it feels, more or less, like a simple rehash of the original. Zero innovation, incredibly repetitive open world game design, painfully cliché and cheesy dialogue, sub-par visuals and performance, and a world teeming with mission diversity experienced within the first couple of hours, Crackdown 3 manages to entertain only in short bursts without leaving a lasting impression on an industry that offers more innovative and exciting experiences miles ahead of anything remotely substantial the overly disappointing title achieves.

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