‘Crackdown 3’ Review: A Chaotic, Destructive Adventure Light on the Adventure

Crackdown 3 has had a very turbulent development process with many cancellation scares and numerous delays since it was initially revealed back in 2014. Now that it’s here, the Xbox exclusive takes fans of the franchise back into the world of chaos and destruction, but does the game live up to the years-long hype? Well, we've got some bad news.

Overall, Crackdown 3 is very much a Terry Crews simulator, so for fans of the actor it’s practically a dream come true. That being said, even the excellent writing and Crews himself isn’t enough to make it a smashing success for the Xbox One platform. The dated graphics, clunky mechanics, and monotonous progression is enough to overshadow a game that really did have a lot of potential.

One thing I enjoyed was the familiar destructive properties that the franchise is known for. It does give those anticipated tingles that I likened to that of the Red Faction series, and the power of pure chaos feels rewarding at times. Taking out the bad guys one by one and destroying what gives them power had the potential of being incredibly thrilling, but the repetitive combat and delayed mechanics quickly brought down that joy to more mediocre levels.

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The story itself is what fans would expect from a Crackdown title, but taken to the next level with Terry Crews. Players can choose the Agents that they want to play in the game but honestly, go Terry or go home. There's also some incredible cutscenes with a blending art style that almost makes it feel like a comic book come to life, and there are moments where I was actually sad to see a scene end and be thrust back into actual gameplay. Though that's an incredible testament to the creative direction of the third game, it's not something you want to see in a title that many choose for its particular brand of gameplay.

With comedic writing and an encouraging narration to push the player towards completion, it is enjoyable as a whole, though in no way groundbreaking. For a game that had this much hype surrounding it, the reality of the experience really does put a harsh spotlight on the damage that too much hype can have on beloved franchises.

Without spoiling anything here, taking out the enemies through the ladder-like progression that Crackdown is known for doesn’t feel as thrilling as it should. There's never that rewarding "aha!" moment that these sorts of games regularly offer players, and it never feels like there's any sort of real payoff aside from character boosts. There's a possibility that playing on the hardest difficulty could change things, but the takedowns otherwise just feel mundane and don’t fit in.

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As mentioned before, the combat is clunky – which to be fair, is not dissimilar to the previous games in the series. Still, for a game on this generation, the combat doesn’t feel like a feature, but instead one giant bug.

There's not a lot of freedom when taking on hordes of enemies, at least not until much further along in the game. The vehicular travel is also a hot mess, though I have a feeling that’s more because I was playing on PC versus the actual mechanics. Driving games and PC controls don’t really ever mix, and Crackdown 3 is no exception to that rule.

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The in-game weaponry is admittedly fun to play with. Personally, I always favor the plasma weapons, though a solid shotgun is always welcome. Tossing up a grenade and then killing an enemy with one shot is fun at times, but it eventually becomes monotonous, which really overshadowed the entire experience time and time again.

Being able to change out your vehicle, item, and weapon types is also super easy, because the map is littered with supply drops. Pick up a weapon, and it’s in your arsenal, and simply find a drop anywhere indicated on the map to swap them out. It works well.

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The Wrecking Zone is the premier multiplayer mode for the third game and really does bring the destruction that Crackdown players crave. This mode is incredibly over the top both visually and mechanically, and that's a huge saving grace for this game. As the mode begins, agents can be seen scurrying to get away from the failing debris threatening to trap them while preparing for the fight of a lifetime against other players' bullets.

Microsoft's Azure cloud network really did show off what it was made of with Wrecking Zone and to me, this portion of what the game has to offer is what makes Crackdown unique. Unfortunately for me personally, I crave meat outside of just a multiplayer experience and as incredible as Wrecking Zone is, it just isn't enough to pull the game -- as a whole -- out of a rut.

Multiplayer, unfortunately, was not widely available during the course of our review, and my time with this mode during testing periods was extremely limited, so it's hard to say anything particularly positive or negative about it other than my knee-jerk reaction that I absolutely loved the thrill of cloud-based destruction.

I will say that I enjoyed what I did see of the Wrecking Zone, and it feels very reminiscent of Halo, which will be a huge selling point for the game -- especially for those that love playing with friends. As a Play Anywhere title, this means Xbox One and PC players will be able to team up, which makes multiplayer that much more of a desirable feature.

Overall, Crackdown 3 is pretty disappointing, but it’s hard to tell if part of that was the huge wait time for that. This is a game that’s been in development for a long time, and though it does have its charming moments and witty one-liners, it feels like an unenthusiastic attempt at a revival for a franchise that was better off being left in the last generation.

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Rating: 2 out of 5

Crackdown 3 is set to release for Xbox One and Windows 10 on February 15th. A PC code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.