I wasn’t very excited when I first heard the announcement of Crackdown 3, which was first announced back in 2014. I had completed the first Crackdown and found it satiable enough entertainment. I even purchased and played Crackdown 2, which I can’t honestly remember a single thing about. I’ve heard a lot of gamers refer to Crackdown as a product of its generation, which I disagree with, because I think the central core of what Crackdown is dated much further back than that. What I mean is, even when the first video-game arrived on the Xbox 360, Crackdown already felt very simple and like a callback to the mindless running around that Grand Theft Auto had already evolved from before it even left the PlayStation 2. When Crackdown 3 was announced in 2014, I didn’t care very much, and with its release, about half a decade later, I still can’t say I was very enthusiastic about it. Regardless, with Crackdown 3 arriving on the Xbox Game Pass subscription service on-launch, I decided to dabble into it, ignoring the barrage of negative reviews and criticisms, and really, only hoping for an enjoyable couple of hours before it was deleted from my Library and forgotten. Does Crackdown 3 fail at meeting even the minimum of expectations, or is it dead on arrival? Here are my thoughts…
Crackdown 3 is an action-adventure video game for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One, through development by Sumo Digital and publication by Microsoft Studios. If you’re unfamiliar with Sumo Digital, I couldn’t blame you. The developer has many notable titles in its catalog like LittleBigPlanet 3 and will see its second release this year with Team Sonic Racing, but it hasn’t really carved out much of a reputation for itself one way or the other. If you haven’t played any of the earlier series installments and it doesn’t bother you incredibly to skip straight to the third installment, Crackdown 3’s story-line is simple, straightforward, and standalone, with not a whole lot to talk about from a narrative standpoint. One other alternative is that Xbox One has the original Crackdown available for free download with backwards compatibility.
The easiest criticism to have about the Crackdown series is how light it is on substance in its characters or conflicts. While Crackdown 3 brings actor Terry Crews into the fray as playable character Commander Issiah Jaxton, tasked with the objective to bring down the evil-organization Terra Nova, it doesn’t do anything to buck off that criticism. After one cut-scene with our charismatic lead, he becomes nothing more than a character-skin as you traverse the sky-scrapers and dodge missiles. Suffice to say, if the previous entries felt too shallow for you to enjoy, this installment won’t change things whatsoever.
Meanwhile, if you’ve played the other Crackdown games, then, you’ll mostly know what to expect with Crackdown 3. It’s the type of video-game you can unplug your brain for, throw on some music and mindlessly delve into wave after wave of enemies. It’s Crackdown, and it might be disappointing to discover that that’s all it is. After nearly a decade of development, Crackdown 3 feels more-or-less like it has found nothing new to say for itself. This isn’t to say that it hasn’t had some upkeep to it. Although the graphics aren’t of that high of a standard, with scenery oftentimes feeling indistinct and lacking in detail, it’s a passable enough backdrop for the action that ensues. I will say that I enjoyed the playground style plat-forming incorporated into it, which felt like it created some variation.
Crackdown 3 is easily the best of the Crackdown series. Faced with the objective of chipping into Terra Nova’s armor by destroying facilities and collecting intel, the player also targets lower and middle-tier bosses while they work their way up the chain-of-command. Alongside this, you’ll also come across a truck-load of collectibles and side-missions to conquer.
I’ll mention now that my thoughts about Crackdown 3 are about Crackdown 3: Campaign, and not Wrecking Zone, which is the name given for the multiplayer aspect. I’ve never been interested in multiplayer, but I am aware that many gamers have ripped the multiplayer for this game to shreds.
Even still, if I’m being honest about my time spent with Crackdown 3, I had a lot more fun with it than what I expected, enough to finish the campaign, in-fact. All of what I said still applies, it’s doesn’t innovate from earlier entries beyond some upkeep, its story and characters are throwaway, and its world feels very run-of-the-mill. That doesn’t change the fact I had a lot of fun with it though, enough fun that I’m hoping against logic that Crackdown 4 comes out one day. The game, for all its simplicity, is immensely playable and enjoyable, scratching an itch to collect orbs and jump around that I didn’t even know I had. I spent hours and hours on Crackdown 3 and had a blast with it, which is a testament to its playability when you consider how I couldn’t have cared less about it.
Maybe that benefited me in the long-run. I hadn’t heard any of the promises that developers had made, and I certainly didn’t think I waited nine-years for Crackdown 3 like devoted fans might have, and so, what Crackdown 3 ended up being was mostly everything I wanted and more. The easiest way to decide whether Crackdown 3 is worth playing is if you played the earlier Crackdown’s and enjoyed them, if you did, you’ll enjoy their improved successor, for certain, if not, you’ll want to stay away. For the uninitiated, the best testimonial I can give is that there’s mindless, but solid fun to be had.