Crackdown 3 Review: Old school gameplay in the new age

By Sameer Mitha | Updated 18 Feb 2019
Crackdown 3 Review: Old school gameplay in the new age
  • Crackdown 3 is an open world shooter that lacks depth. However, it is still a fun outing for those looking for some frantic gunplay and enjoyable traversing. Crackdown 3 is available for the PC and the Xbox One and is priced at Rs 3,999.

Crackdown 3 has been in development for nearly half a decade and when a game changes developer hands, there is cause for worry. Remember Duke Nukem: Forever? Jumping into Crackdown 3 I thought I’d put the controller down in a matter of minutes, struggling to finish it for this review. I was wrong. I jumped into the game and the next thing I know, a few hours had passed and I wanted to jump back into the game for more shooting and traversing. Those are the two aspects of the game that will keep you coming back. Let's break down the review.

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Story

The story of Crackdown 3 is as old school as saving a princess from a castle. You are an agent, there is a city overrun by an evil corporation and it is up to you to save the day. Simple, no strings attached. The presentation of the story is very comic bookish, with colourful neon lit images representing the characters and voice over in the background. Apart from the opening and a few cinematic cut scenes, the rest of the story is told through these comic strips. 

The story may be simple but it is the characters that are tongue and cheek in their dialogue. They lack any form of depth whatsoever and their motivations are as straightforward as those of villains in a 90’s action movie. I’m ok with that as the core of the game lies in the action. 

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You don the role of an Agent from the ‘Agency’ and with Terry Crews at the centre of the marketing of the game, I’d be surprised if you picked any other character from the available roster. At the beginning of the game, the agency is destroyed and you are recovered by a rogue hacker named Echo who ‘rebuilds’ you and brings you to life. You are also accompanied by your old Director, Charles Goodwin and these 2 provide the story, background, mission objectives and wise one liners in the game.

The story of the game has no twisted plot turns or big revelations. It's a simple journey of climbing the ladder of bad guys to save the day.

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Gameplay

Shallow but fun is the best way to describe the gameplay of Crackdown 3. You have a set of skills that you can upgrade - traversal, gunplay, melee combat, driving and agility. There is no specific method to upgrade your character other than perform the specific task which is my biggest problem with the game. You want to unlock more cars, then steal more cars. You want to unlock all the guns, then pick them up when an enemy drops them. You want more melle moves, then use more melee combat. I’d have preferred to earn orbs and spend them on moves as this would enable me to play how I liked without worrying about character progression. 

Having said that, Crackdown 3 has a decent sized map with enough icons littered all over the place for you to tackle. These include the main missions, which usually involve destroying something to lure out the boss so you can empty clip after clip on him. Some side missions about rescuing civilians who will join your cause in saving the city are also there in the game. There are also broadcast stations that you can hack to change the broadcasting message from the evil Terranova Corporation to the Agency. These broadcast hacks are my favourite part of the game as they involve a lot of careful traversing to get to the top of the tower. 

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Speaking of traversing, the lay of the land is such that you can jump, double jump and then dash in the air which is good enough to cover a lot of ground. In the beginning of the game, you are underpowered and looking at the design of the city. I missed Spider-Man’s ability to simply swing from one structure to the next. After some upgrades however, I was dashing from building to building, eliminating the need for me to steel a car to reach the next objective. 

Speaking of cars, they feel very stiff and hard to control. Compared to GTA V, the car control in this game is frustrating, until you unlock the Agency car which is the only one that will run well in terms of handling and controls. It will run like the Batmobile from Arkham Knight with the addition that it can drive on walls. 

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The arsenal at your disposal is vast but I found myself resorting to the same 3 guns and 2 grenades for each battle. Because these 3 guns are powerful enough to let me run havok, there was little motivation for me to try a new weapon. 

Speaking of the boss encounters, they are as simple as the missions that lead you to them. Shoot a weak point to make the boss vulnerable and once he/she is vulnerable, empty clip after clip at them. There is some fun to be had here because some of the bosses bring a slight twist to the gameplay.

The map in Crackdown 3 is open immediately after the tutorial ends and you can scale the big tower to take on the main villain almost immediately but you won't succeed. As you look at the various icons on the map which show you your mission objectives, you will notice a percentage showing you the likeliness of success. Through my gameplay, I found that I could succeed in any mission marked with a 65 percent success chance. I did take a mission that said I had a 9 percent chance of success and died almost immediately everytime I tried to take it on, so yes, progress wisely. 

Overall, the gameplay does lack the depth and complexity found in modern day shooters, but the traversing is fun and the not so complicated gunplay was fun for me. Above all. The game is a big stressbuster after a hard day when you just want to blow things up. Speaking of blowing things up, the environments in the game isn’t destructible. That is reserved for the multiplayer mode of the game. We received a review copy of the single player only, so we will touch upon the multiplayer aspect of the game in a different story.

Graphics

Crackdown 3 is no God of War, nor is it a Gears of War 4 when it comes to the graphical fidelity. It looks a little last gen but that's not my problem with the game. My problem is that the gamma settings in the game are so off that it appears darker than it should, especially during the night sequences. I played the game on an Xbox One X hooked up to a 1080p TV and the dark areas in the game were so dark it was hard to traverse at times. Pumping up the backlight or the brightness of the TV didn't help and turning up the gamma in the game makes everything look greyer than it should. Maybe this can be updated over a patch but till then I recommend not tackling traversal missions at night. 

Apart from that, the visuals of the game are simple with neon lighting thrown into the complete mix. You have a lot of neon red, green, yellow and blue thrown throughout the bland city making it look like something out of a tron movie. 

The animations, character models and movement of your agent is smooth and even though the enemies on screen also boast of fluid animation, they can sometimes appear a little wonky getting stuck in walls and walking in the same place. 

The streets in the game are quite dead with little pedestrian banter or activities happening around you. Don't expect this to be the living breathing world we have seen in other open world games. 

Overall, the game has pretty neon visuals, even though they don't look cutting edge. We would have liked to see a more lived in world. I guess the Witcher 3 has raised the bar of open world games for us.

Sound

The most underutilised aspect of Crackdown 3 is its voice cast. If you have seen Terry Crews in action in his movies or TV shows, then you know he is an energy filled funny person who can bring a smile to your face with his one liners and love for yogurt. That feeling is missing from the game. Sure, he does have his one liners in the game, but they aren't as many as I’d like. Don’t get me wrong, some one lines did make me laugh, but they were far and few.

A better job is done by the the voice actor of Director Charles Goodwin who will throw his one liners over the radio at you when you take too much damage, or perform some insane moves in the game. But here too, I was left wanting more. 

The voice acting in the game is good but I wish the conversations that happened in game had a dash of more humour.

The rest of the sound is okay. The cars don’t exhibit any unique sound depending on the type of vehicle you are driving and the guns sound like they were ripped from a cartoon but in the heat of battle, you will wait for the cheeky one liners more than pay attention to the sounds of the game.

Bottom line

Crackdown 3 is old school fun. You can spend hours running around the city, completing one homogeneous objective after the other and you may not get bored because traversing and shooting can get quite hectic and enjoyable. The game isn't worth the asking price of Rs 3,999 but if you have Xbox Game Pass then you can access the game with your subscription. It is that shooter game you can visit when mindless running and gunning with a few cheesy one liners is what you are looking for at the end of a work day.

Skoar: 6.5 out of 10

Moar: 

Developer: Sumo Digital
Publisher: Xbox Games Studios
Platforms: XBox One and PC
Price: Rs 3,999

Also read:

Far Cry New Dawn Review: More than just an expansion

New leaks suggest PS5 and next Xbox specifications and pricing

6 games to check out in February 2019

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Sameer Mitha
Sameer Mitha lives for gaming and technology is his muse. When he isn’t busy playing with gadgets or video games he delves into the world of fantasy novels.
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