A long time ago when the xbox360 was young there were games that defined the console, one of them was Crackdown.
Putting you in the shoes of a super-human Agent, the game had you reclaiming an open world one task at a time and mowing down a hefty roster of bad guys. All sounds pretty familiar, well yes it was, but then there were Orbs and the way you skilled up and the subtle effects that came with those skills, not to mention the small army array of weapons at your disposal. Having recently hit the backwards compatible pile and being free to download I had a recent spin around the original and it didn’t disappoint.
Yes, by today’s standard the open world was fairly bare and the cel-shaded aesthetic wasn’t much to write home about. However, the game had chops, big furry, playable chops and people loved it.
Now we have Crackdown 3 and to be honest it may not sell you on the otherwise excellent value of Gamepass, but being part of that catalogue makes it all so much more appealing. After Crackdown there was an inevitable sequel, which certainly missed the mark, even though it offered some interesting subterranean caverns and a dodgy flying mechanic it just didn’t have the same appeal. Probably because we had all moved on, Crackdown had become a thing of the past and we were into new trends, franchises and online experiences.
That’s not to say it was bad, but it was not the sequel we were looking for.
Crackdown 3 I will go out say right now, stands head and shoulders above Crackdown 2. Obviously the capability of the next generation aside, the game plays well, in fact it plays and that’s what games should be about. Playing.
The introduction sets the scene as Commander Jaxon (enthusiastically played by a nicely mo-capped Terry Crews) and his team are wiped out by a mysterious attacker, with the ship destroyed and Agents dead the world is left open to being conquered. After a short time-out Jaxon is genetically engineered to be back on point and bringing the pain. Thankfully the sci-fi hokum is just dressing and the narrative doesn’t intrude much after that.
This of course makes sense for the how and why you need to re-skill your Agent and more importantly collect some Orbs. Yes, Orbs, some games have silly collectibles, coffee flasks or comic books whereas the Crackdown games have Orbs and make collecting not only essential to character development, but also something of an addiction. Talk to any fan of the original and mostly their eyes will glaze over remembering the sound of an Orb pinging away, slightly out of reach for your unskilled legs or hidden in a convenient nook away from sight. Orb hunting is half the fun of a Crackdown game, hearing their chime dinging away, seeing it tantalisingly floating over an abyss between two skyscrapers and knowing deep down, just knowing that you will try that jump even though you also know you need to come back when you have levelled up again.
Skills for Kills. A mantra that is washed into your brain all through the adventure, it’s part of the tongue in cheek comic book style that the game portrays. However it really is worth noting that skills come in a variety of flavours and just killing bad guys is not the absolute answer. Pick up a green Agility Orb or Hidden Orb and you will suck in a dose of experience, this will lift your level so that you can run faster, jump higher and withstand more damage. Driving vehicles also gives you specific experience as does using explosives and Fire, it won’t be long before you are levelling up and adding more buffs to your characters arsenal.
While we are on the driving, jumping into a vehicle at the start of the game feels wrong, they handle like a brick on ice and that’s being complimentary. What people will forget is that vehicle handling gets better the more you drive, because the more you drive the more your driving skills levels up. Horses for courses really, some people, myself included tend to traverse a Crackdown world on foot anyway, so anything related to driving tends to be part of the mop up at the endgame. While the handling gets better the buffs that come alongside that are handy, a press of the d-pad will summon the Agency Lightning car to your side, like your horse in the Witcher, but with more armour and horsepower. As your skills improve the car will also mutate into The Spider, a handy wall-crawling vehicle for hard to reach places, if that doesn’t float your boat given it an hour or two and you will have The Minotaur, essentially a tank.
The city of New Providence may be awash with traffic, but the variety has been kept to a minimum, where the initial look at the car list might seem a bit light it really doesn’t matter, because you’ll barely use them anyway. The Lightning vehicle does everything you need, but why drive when you can leap from one skyscraper to the next.
The game is fluid and refreshingly simple, there are no complex systems or controls to master. Target lock-ins are easy, the controls are all familiar and the destruction is hugely satisfying. The game rewards the player that can adapt and keep moving, especially when assaulting a base and waves of enemies are coming at you. Switch weapons, grab a nearby boulder and throw it, leap into the air for a ground pound before whipping out your rocket launcher to blow the survivors to smithereens. As hinted at earlier, it is playable and fun, especially once your skills start to grow and you can see / hear / feel your character improving.
Working your way through the enemies to assault the Head of Terra Nova is a battle, even though the city is wide open to attack and there is nothing stopping you from wandering up to knock on their door straight away, except maybe a few rockets to the face.
There is a lot to like about Crackdown 3, while it may feel like an older game, it is built using a formula that works and you don’t have to worry about getting chores or conversations. As a great example of keeping it simple we have a Crackdown for people to enjoy, a game that doesn’t get bogged down in drawn out narrative, rather a game that wants you to play it and spend your time roving from one conflict to the next happily chipping away at the tasks on offer until you work your way through some manageable bosses and ultimately save the day.
Get on, play it and have some uncomplicated fun.
Note: We didn’t get access to the online game Wrecking Crew during review period and will be giving it a spin as and when possible