In 2007 my best friend and I bought Crackdown only to get access to the then upcoming Halo 3 demo. However, on day one the demo was not available … so, we had to play the game that came along with it. Admittedly, that first Crackdown game was fun. High flying, gun shootin’, car drivin’ mindless fun. I can’t remember much about the story, aside from the Michael D. McConnohie’s great narration as the Director. This wasn’t Bioware levels of immersion. I blew up bad guys, and searched like hell for all those agility orbs so I could leap over buildings.
Once the main story was over, I just walked away from it. The replay value just wasn’t there. When the sequel was released in 2010, I picked it up as a curiosity but found that the quirkiness that made the original interesting wore thin on a second outing. Fast forward a few years and we see demos showing off amazing destruction. You could collapse an entire building onto another one, like it was some sort of interactive structural engineering experiment. Fast forward even further after multiple delays and we have Crackdown 3.
This second sequel feels like something that fell out of the XBOX 360 era of gaming. That’s not necessarily bad, but considering the number of high-quality releases we’ve seen in the past year at or below the $60 asking price … we should be getting more. Textures and building details make Pacific City look more like an early concept than a finished design. The city is not a living, breathing setting that feels like it needs the Agency’s protection. It’s more of a place that mildly reacts to my antics as I haphazardly shoot an amusing collection of enemy types.
Much like the previous games, a majority of the time in-game is spent trying to get those precious orbs. It wouldn’t be a true ‘Terry Crews Simulator’ unless I was able to run at the speed of a car while also jumping over a garden style apartment complex. The draw distance allows for easy orb spotting cross the rooftops, and most can be obtained while only at level two agility. Exploiting the terrain and loose physics also helps getting to those areas that are clearly made for later in the game.
Unfortunately that’s where a healthy chunk of the game’s fun was found: orb chasin’. After completing the campaign, I realized that I never once use a vehicle. There are no chase missions, or timed missions. Nothing that requires a tank to take out a large enemy or horde of baddies. After the first boss battle, you’ve come into possession of some pretty decent weaponry, and resupplying is often convenient at all strongholds. So, where is the challenge?
That’s the major issue, no challenge. Sure, there are races, both on foot and in vehicle, but those are not essential to the story. Only one boss lead to me dying multiple times, until I was able to use the game’s buggy AI to my own advantage. The final boss (which turns out to be a “dragon” with a very scripted attack pattern) was easily defeated by simply stepping outside of the “arena” and letting my health regen.
As far as the story goes, I won’t spoil what little plot there is, but your agent does not have any sort of defining characteristics aside from quips. Other agents can be unlocked by finding their DNA, but the gameplay factors are relatively unchanged in the overall scope of the experience. Terry Crews himself only appears to have a handful of quotes, that are repeated multiple times in rapid successions. Yes, Mr. Crews, I understand that you’re crispy because you came into close proximity to a heat source. I get it. Stop.
There may be a good reason Microsoft chose to make this available on the GamePass on day one. It just isn’t worth the money. Perhaps when combining that with the Wrecking Crew multi-player mode, but from what I’ve seen it does not deliver on the massively destructive demo that was shown off four years ago. We also get a lot of anti-capitalism rhetoric from a secondary character who chimes in when the Director isn’t telling us how good or bad we’re doing. I just finished the game yesterday and I cannot tell you her name, or her importance to the plot. That’s kind of the whole experience in a nutshell really: I remember the action but nothing else stuck with me.
Is Crackdown 3 worth the full price? No. Is it fun to run around a seemingly empty city collecting orbs and shooting drones, mechs, and nameless baddies? Yeah. So, get it on the GamePass, but stay far away from making an actual purchase until this title hits the $19.99 sweet spot.