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Crackdown 3 Review

Crackdown was one of the best games ever to grace the Xbox 360. It’s just a shame that its sequel was a disappointment.

I spent tens of hours – with and without the company of friends – shooting bad guys and collecting agility orbs, jumping around the environment like a maniac and pulling off stunts in the agency vehicle. Even after eradicating all the crime organisations that had took hold of Pacific City I returned time and time again. Why? Because it was fun. And that’s why Crackdown 3 is also such a success.

Crackdown 3 is Crackdown, but bigger and better. And you can play as Terry Crews. What more could you want? If you’re a fan of the original Crackdown, that’s all you need to know. Either buy Crackdown 3 or subscribe to Xbox Game Pass and enjoy. You’re welcome. If you’ve never played Crackdown, however, you’re probably going to need more convincing, aren’t you? Well, read on.

Crackdown 3 drops you into New Providence, a city controlled by a mysterious and pretty despicable organisation called Terra Nova. Your job is to take it down. The freedom you’re afforded means you could head straight to Terra Nova’s leader if you wish, but chances are you won’t survive the encounter. A better tactic is to start at the bottom. Disrupt various aspects of Terra Nova’s organisation, and you’ll find it getting weaker and weaker. Also, its notable members will be exposed, leaving them wide open for attack.

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Like any open world game, then, Crackdown 3 has a wealth of activities for you to engage in, and everything is seamless. As you explore, you might come across a monorail station that needs to be liberated, for example, or some heavy machinery that would be better destroyed. Whether you entertain those tasks is up to you, but being a thorn in Terra Nova’s side is always fun. Also, engaging in combat is a surefire way to improve your agent’s abilities, and trust me, Crackdown 3‘s activities usually result in epic battles.

Shooting and making things go boom isn’t the only trick up Crackdown 3‘s sleeve, though.  It’s also very much a platformer. Some targets and objectives will require you to jump from building to building, or use ledges to get you higher. There are also terminals spewing awful Terra Nova propaganda that you need to put an end to. To reach them, you’ll have to negotiate platforms suspended high up in the air, protected by lasers and platforms that move. Crackdown 3‘s platforming would be frustrating if it wasn’t for the game’s excellent controls. Thanks to striking a fine balance between weightiness and responsiveness, controlling your agent is a delight.

Further enriching Crackdown 3‘s riveting combination of chaotic action and sky-high platforming is a wealth of fantastic weaponry and agent upgrades. New weapons are unlocked for use as you steal them from the bad guys you’ve put down and discover them out in the world. Many are fairly mundane, like the shotgun, but then you get access to lasers that set enemies on fire and grenades that suck in all units from the surrounding area. Your agent has some devastating melee attacks available to them, too, and it’s just as much fun to punch enemies as it is to shoot them. Perhaps even more so, in fact.

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It’s how your agent develops over the course of Crackdown 3 that’s the most exciting thing about the game, though. Starting out at level one across all your skills, you’re still superhuman but not all that impressive. As you kill enemies and complete tasks in New Providence, however, you become ever more godlike. Improving your agility by completing roof races and collecting orbs enables you to jump higher and use boosters, killing enemies with melee attacks, firearms and explosives grants you access to new weapons and abilities, and performing stunts in vehicles increases your driving level, unlocking new forms for your agency vehicle. When all skills are maxed out, you become a true force to be reckoned with, able to dish out huge amounts of damage while whizzing about in the air.

Chances are you won’t max out your agent before taking out the head of Terra Nova for the first time. Thankfully though, there are plenty of reasons to go back to New Providence after it has been liberated. You probably won’t have found all the agility and hidden orbs for one. And there are a wealth of roof races, street races and stunt rings to find and conquer. Also, you can start a new game with your already powered up agent, improving your chances of tackling that Legendary difficulty level that you wondered whether you should tackle from the outset.

Online co-op is available too, though unfortunately Crackdown 3 doesn’t allow players to drop in and out of games at will. To play in co-op, you’ll need to select the co-op option on the main menu, and then invite a friend to join you. You can’t start a co-op game until someone actually picks up your invite.

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Competitive multiplayer is also available, and comes via the way of its own installer. Crackdown 3 Wrecking Zone currently only offers 5v5 team-based gameplay across two match types and a handful of maps. The action is fast-paced, and feels very unique even though its two match types, Agent Hunter and Territories, are basically Death Match and King of the Hill.

With players being extremely agile, Crackdown 3 Wrecking Zone features a lock on system, which seems weird in an online shooter, but it’s necessary due to the speed and verticality of the action. Players are made aware when an opponent has locked onto them, giving them the chance to break the lock-on before they come under fire. How they do that is up to them. Jumping, boosting and making use of the environment is one option. Dashing through a wall with your fist is another.

Pretty much everything you see in one of Crackdown 3 Wrecking Zone‘s maps can be destroyed, resulting in matches that are unpredictable and chaotic. Players are able to choose their loadout at the start of a match and at every respawn, and while their primary weapon is only really good for damaging other players, the secondary weapons on offer are all about mass destruction. It’s not unusual to find a building crumbling on top of you when two teams collide in a small area, and though it’s disappointing that you don’t take any damage from falling debris, Crackdown 3 Wrecking Zone‘s destruction never fails to entertain.

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Honestly though, I don’t care about Crackdown 3‘s multiplayer modes. I thoroughly enjoy them, but the campaign is what I’m all about, and it is fantastic. There’s enough variety to missions to keep them engaging, there’s plenty of side content to keep you occupied, and going up against each of Terra Nova’s leaders always feels like a big event. The last few provided some of the most thrilling platforming-cum-third-person shooter action in recent years. And it’s got a sense a humour – a real good sense of humour that’s disarming – and some beautiful visuals.

Crackdown 3‘s comic book art style really works well for it. It’s at its best when the sun goes down and the lights come on, but the game looks beautiful at all times, especially on Xbox One X. And better still, performance is pretty much flawless. Even when all hell is breaking loose – and it often does – Crackdown 3 doesn’t break a sweat. It makes it an absolute joy to play.

Forget Crackdown 2 ever happened, Crackdown 3 is the sequel we deserve. It takes everything that made the original game so great and expands upon it, leveraging the power of the Xbox One to make the experience bigger and better. New Providence is varied and interesting to explore, your agent is a pleasure to control and upgrade, and more importantly, Crackdown 3 is just fun. It’s fun from the minute you step foot in New Providence until the moment you hit Quit to Main Menu. You’re hardly ever taken away from the action, keeping your eyes constantly glued to the screen. And that’s why we play video games, isn’t it?

Crackdown 3 is available on Xbox One and PC. We reviewed the Xbox One version.

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