Crackdown 3 review: Familiar for all the wrong reasons

Source: Microsoft Studios
Source: Microsoft Studios /

After several delays over the last three years, the return of Crackdown is more a reflection of the time it was announced than an evolution on the overly saturated genre it inhabits.

Title: Crackdown 3
Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: Xbox Game Studios
Platforms: Xbox One (version reviewed), PC
Release date: February 15, 2019

“You’re outdated, Agent. Shame.”

This is a line that many of Crackdown 3‘s players will either overlook or miss entirely, as it originates from one of the game’s bosses upon mission failure. But it’s a sentiment that rings true to the nature of Crackdown 3; a game that fails to push boundaries and heavily relies on its formula to continue working nearly nine years removed from the last installment in the series.

The story of Crackdown 3 transpires ten years after Crackdown 2 in the cyberpunk city of New Providence, where your Agent has been transported for rehabilitation for injuries suffered amidst a terrorist attack shown in the game’s opening. It just so happens that the organization behind said attack, TerraNova Worldwide, is based in New Providence as well, setting your Agent on a quest to hunt down its leaders one-by-one and exact justice and perhaps a little bit of revenge.

As players first enter the world of Crackdown 3, they’ll immediately notice the rich color palette that beautifully paints their surroundings. Acid greens and vibrant pinks fill every environment, furthering Crackdown‘s graphic novel inspiration and making this game an absolute neon dream.

Crackdown 3 screenshot
Xbox Game Studios /

In a gameplay-centric title such as this one, its plot serves its purpose as nothing more than a way to take the player from point A to point B. From time to time, the game will transition to colorful storyboard-style cutscenes reminiscent of Sucker Punch’s work in Sly Cooper and inFAMOUS that offer a bit more information on the game’s general happenings and its various antagonists. However, while pretty, these cutscenes failed to grab my undivided attention and simply felt like unnecessary interruptions from the game’s central driving force: the gameplay.

In Crackdown 3, you are given the creative freedom to do almost whatever you want in whichever order you please (with some limitations, of course). Throughout the game, you will be tasked to gain intel on TerraNova’s leaders by affecting their day-to-day operations. Each leader heads a different division of TerraNova; for example, one may run the city’s transit system while another runs security.

The game will ask you to do the same mission no less than six times per category, which gets very old rather quickly.

It’s the player’s job to revert control back to the Agency and the citizens of New Providence through a series of missions that all share the same objective within a specific category. One line of missions may task you to defeat a certain number of enemies to reveal a mini-boss, while another’s objective is to find and destroy the power source of a security gate to access the opposition’s vehicles.

The game will ask you to do the same mission no less than six times per category, which gets very old rather quickly. What makes it even more brutal is the trek from one location to the next, as traversing through the city and its outskirts tends to be confusing more often than not. The future has everything, except for GPS in its cars.

Crackdown 3 screenshot
Xbox /

Thankfully, there is a fast travel mechanic in the form of Supply Points throughout New Providence, but reaching and unlocking these checkpoints is a pain in and of itself. Pair that with an outdated set of driving mechanics that somehow feel both squirrelly and stiff at the same time and every mission run becomes insufferable within the first ten minutes.

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  • The more missions you complete, the more intel you get on the specific boss you’re targeting. The more intel you gain, the more attention put on you. On occasion, some bosses will go after you personally, though this winds up being nothing more than a mere annoyance rather than an entertaining, tense, and spontaneous moment the developers were hoping to produce.

    If you’ve somehow survived boredom long enough to finish a category’s set of missions, you’ll have earned enough intel to reveal the target’s location in order to take them down. These boss fights are fairly enjoyable, pitting you against over-the-top, larger-than-life villains as hordes of enemies breathe down your neck.

    However, these altercations are often dragged out for far too long, as the fight either winds up delayed or interrupted by a series of platforming. This may be further prolonged depending on which Agility upgrades you’ve unlocked up to that point, as some platforms may be impossible to reach without certain abilities.

    While most of your abilities will naturally be upgraded as you progress through the game and defeat more enemies, Agility can only be upgraded through finding hidden orbs placed throughout the city. On more than one occasion, I had to stop halfway through a boss fight, leave, and grind for orbs. This may be the hardest part of the game; not in terms of in-game difficulty, but to find the mental fortitude to endure this.

    Crackdown 3 explosion
    Xbox Game Studios /

    That’s really what the whole game boils down to; a grind fest. Whether it’s through orb collecting, unlocking Supply Points, or playing the same mission over and over to get to the moderately fun bosses, you’re grinding non-stop and the payoff, in the end, is not worth it in the slightest.

    Crackdown 3‘s 5-v-5 multiplayer facet, Wrecking Zone, has also been one of the game’s biggest selling points and I had a chance to test it out for a couple of hours. Featuring fully destructible buildings and tons of high-flying action, this arena shooter provided the most fun and satisfaction of my entire experience with Crackdown 3.

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    However, just like the campaign, the multiplayer is in no way reinventing the wheel. After a few matches of Agent Hunter (basically Call of Duty‘s Kill Confirmed), I felt generally underwhelmed with little-to-no desire to play again. I also gave the Domination-inspired Territories mode a shot, but quickly found myself in the same mindset.

    Wrecking Zone isn’t necessarily bad and may find a niche crowd, but it’s generally unappealing in an over-saturated market. It just doesn’t do nearly enough to stand out, nor does it spark motivation to keep playing.

    <em>Crackdown 3 </em>is a severely outdated sandbox title that neither pushes boundaries or evolves itself in any way. While it puts an emphasis on gameplay, the game does the absolute bare minimum to provide any entertainment for the player and, instead, creates a 20-hour-long headache. If you’re looking for a similar larger-than-life open world experience, you’re better off playing something that not only offers more diversity in gameplay and customization but likely looks, and performs, better.. Xbox Game Studios. . Crackdown 3. 4.0

    A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.