The year is 2019, a year in which the gaming industry as a whole must follow up 2018 as an absolute blockbuster year of incredible, well crafted, heart felt, story driven masterpieces. Games like Red Dead Redemption, God of War and Spider-Man all lead the charge and let the industry know that people still love and will pay good money for a meaty story in video games. Each of these games featured characters you could love or hate, twists and turns, heartfelt, emotional moments that could make even the most strong willed among us feel feelings (I’m still emotionally recovering from the final battle at the end of Spider-Man) and incredible set pieces that would make even big fancy Hollywood directors jealous.
2018 was a banner year for the industry to be sure. So here we are now in good ol’ 2019, we’re hot on the heels of the release of Kingdom Hearts 3 and coming up quick on BioWare’s hotly anticipated Anthem. But friends, what I’m here to talk about today is has nothing to do with any of these points I made, because today, I’m here to review a new Crackdown game.
For the uninitiated, the Crackdown series is about different cities under siege from various gangs or corrupt government figureheads, you play as a super powered Agent sent by the Agency to shoot, punch and explode the problem. Crackdown 3 released on Friday, February 15th 2019 on Xbox One, both for full purchase and on GamePass, a weekend launch that we don’t usually see that often but in hindsight seemed totally appropriate for this game. I didn’t have anything to do Friday night and I have 2 months of free GamePass left, might as well download Crackdown 3 and see what they’ve improved since the last one came out 10 years ago. It took all of 25 minutes to realize that the answer to that question is: pretty much nothing.
Crackdown 3 might as well just be Crackdown 2 with an HD update, while it looks great, it plays like a game straight off the Xbox 360. Virtually nothing new has been added to the game, you still earn experience points for shooting guys, punching guys and jumping up to high buildings (In order to shoot and punch guys on higher and higher buildings). You still run around a big city (by 2010’s standards) sometimes drive a transforming car and listen to your agency chief yell at you for accidentally mowing down citizens when they don’t get out of the way. And that’s…pretty much it. There aren’t really story “missions”, just what feels like endless side objectives in any other big “take over the map” style game. You work towards taking down high ranking officers in the bad guys regime by taking down different outposts that they control. If you take down enough of their respective outposts, you can fight that specific bad guy. It’s all very amorphous because you’re never directed to be doing anything specific at any one time.
The game hands you the city and basically says “Go and have fun and stop some bad guys” and while, yes, it is disappointing that there’s not much more to it, that’s all that this series ever really needs to be. It turned out that a weekend with Crackdown 3 was just what I needed. I’ve been playing so many big complicated games as of late that a game where you just go and blow stuff up for fun and without much direction is exactly what the doctor ordered. That’s not to say it is a good game, but sometimes all you need is to turn your Xbox on, zone out and blow some shit up.This is the “I don’t feel like cooking tonight, lets just get some Taco Bell” of video games. Still though, some new features or gimmicks could have gone a long way to making it feel like a new, modern, game but sadly they don’t seem to be here.
Would I have loved a Crackdown 3 that actually felt like a game that came out in 2019? Of course I would have. This is one series where turning into a “shared world shooter” a la Destiny or Anthem would have not only been a smart move, but also really, really cool, gameplay wise. The ways that this could have been implemented could fill its own article so I won’t divulge into it too much, but a Crackdown game populated with like 20 other agents at a time with public crime events going on every so often among the chaos would have been a big hit and a blast to play. What we’re left with instead is an incredibly dated feeling, lonely experience with wash, rinse repeat game play. You can add a friend to your game, but it still doesn’t feel like you’re really accomplishing anything together. The best moment I had when I spent an hour playing co-op with Dom was showing him the agency vehicle upgrade that lets me drive up walls, very very poorly. We laughed, a lot. The problem is that the online co-op feels incredibly ancient, I can’t remember the last game where I had to talk to a friend BEFORE inviting them to a game due to not understanding how to properly set up a co-op game. Oh the things we take for granted these days, Crackdown 3 will make you treasure them.
If I can pick one thing to praise about this game, its casting cinematic teddy bear and all around charismatic jack of all trades actor Terry Crews as its lead character. I can’t for the life of me even begin to imagine why they would bother modeling all of these other playable characters when President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho is a choice. (Nothing but respect for MY President.)
So you ask me: is Crackdown 3 worth buying? Buying? I say with a hesitancy in my voice… no. If I had paid actual money for this as an end product, I wouldn’t be very happy. If you have GamePass however, I say take a jaunt around Crackdown’s world and blow some shit up and kill some time in between big releases. It is absolutely ridiculous that this game costs a full $59.99, at the very, very most it should be a $29.99-39.99 budget title. That being said, as long as I still have GamePass, I will probably fire up Crackdown 3 from time to time to veg out and cause some mindless collateral damage.
So finally, here is my closing joke that I’ve had cemented in my mind since 37 minutes into playing the game: Crackdown 3? More like Letdown 3! Sorry.
- Terry Crews
- The do-it level-it experience system
- Perfect for quick bite sized play sessions
- Terry Crews
- Blowing stuff up and shooting guys
- The agency director’s color commentary is a delight as always.
- Low effort
- Cars don’t move when you hit them
- Again, the absolute bear minimum effort
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