“Skills for kills, Agent. Skills for kills.”
The words of Director Goodwin echo through the memories of anyone who played the original Crackdown released in 2007. The creation of David Jones, the brains behind Grand Theft Auto, Crackdown introduced the Agency of Pacific City, a law enforcement organization staffed by cyborg officers. With the ability to leap up tall buildings, run faster than speeding bullets and hurl automobiles through the air while taking on three crime lords and their lackeys, Crackdown was really more of an open world superhero game than anything else.
Perhaps because it was developed by Ruffian Games and not Real Time Worlds, the sequel three years later severely lacked much of the creativity of the original. The story was lighter than Billy Halleck, the missions were tedious and the enemies were tiresome, repetitive.
After that big stumble and several delays, Sumo Digital and Microsoft Studios have jumped back in the ring with Crackdown 3 which is everything the sequel should have been and so much more.
Crackdown 3 takes place 10 years later. The world has suffered multiple terrorist attacks causing mass power outages and chaos across the globe. Those strikes and an attack on the Agency itself are traced to city of New Providence and the shady Terra Nova Corporation. The Agency joins forces with rebels on the ground in an attempt to overthrow Terra Nova, which is really no different than battling the gangs of Pacific City. In order to bring Terra Nova down and break the grip it has on the people of New Providence their leaders must be served with permanent early retirement and their operations, which range from communications to transportation services, must be seized.
These side missions or quests are similar to the ones in last year’s Spider-Man. They are all fantastic mini adventures on their own. To secure the chemical labs you must take out the guards, blow up storage tanks, flip valves and destroy the machinery. To assume control of the vehicle division all you really have to do is blow up all of those cars and trucks in the various garages and ignore the guards.
Once you do enough damage to a specific operation the location of the leader or mini boss will be revealed and then…it is game time!
The most fun I had though was ridding the transportation division of its master, a living computer. After securing all of the transportation stations and handing control of them back to the people, I scaled a huge tower fighting robot after robot guard until I reached the shielded mainframe and fried her circuits for good.
Across New Providence there are also driving mini-games and of course Crackdown’s glowing and humming Agility Orbs which once gathered improve the jumps and leaps of a character. Some of those orbs are just a hop, skip and a jump away. Many though are in tough to reach places. There are also Hidden Agility Orbs which are concealed in hiding places all around New Providence.
Those Agility Orbs are not the only things that are hard to locate. Some of the points of interest are difficult to reach as well. You may have to do a lot of climbing, jumping and flicking of switches to get where you need to go. Although it doesn’t happen that often as Crackdown 3 is more of a shoot ’em up adventure, if you are not a fan of platforming the effort and patience requires to snatch those Agility Orbs or lay siege to those pivotal location may cramp your style and bring the game’s momentum to a trial and error crawl.
Static locations though are not the only points of interest on the open world map of New Providence. Once you start getting on Terra Nova’s case and your alert status increases, elite security teams will be sent to rub you out in staged events. In waves, they will drive out in teams or even drop from the sky sort of like the Spartans did in Halo. The only way to end the “lockdown” or attack is to defeat all of the enemies.
As well as actually having a detailed narrative Crackdown 3 also has a large assortment of enemies. There are different kinds of Terra Nova operatives. There are clods with guns, baddies in Hazmat suits who spray poison, various kinds of walking, flying robots and medium, large and FREAKING gigantic mechs. Sumo Digital could have just flooded the map with cookie cutter enemies like Ruffian Games did in Crackdown 2 but instead they put some genuine thought and creativity into their villains. That makes for a far better adventure and far better battles.
Along with new enemies come new Agency weapons. Agents can carry the usual: shotguns, machine guns, pistols and bazookas. There are some nifty firearms though which make the war on crime such a pleasure to mount. Some of them include the Vortex Cannon, which throws enemies into walls or buildings, the Arc Rifle which shoots electricity, the Mass Driver firing explosive chemicals and the Jackhammer, a weapon that sends cluster bombs at any locked-on target.
The game offers an assortment of grenades to choose from too, besides those everyday explosive ones. There are grenades which freeze everyone who are unfortunate enough to be in their blast radius, grenades that mimic any object you are holding, electrified ones, ones that created a field that constantly recharges your ammo, sticky grenades which are good for taking out those big mechs, poisonous gas grenades and launch pads which send characters soaring into the air.
One new addition to the gameplay is the DNA samples which are scattered around the map. Collecting those unlocks playable characters who are brought back to the land of the living using their DNA strands.
Despite the setbacks and delays, Crackdown 3 has put the franchise firmly back on solid ground and that is mostly because of the exceptional work and dedication of developers Sumo Digital. They have not only addressed all of the shortcomings of Crackdown 2 but they have improved upon the core gameplay and the experience itself. Crackdown’s future is so bright the cigar chomping, slave driving, blow hard, sour puss of an Agency Director would be cracking a smile if he could. Good things come to those who wait and Crackdown fans have certainly had to do that.
READER ALERT: At press time, we were not able to participate in the scheduled Wrecking Zone game sessions and therefore have not included an evaluation of that multiplayer mode in this review.
- THE GOOD
- A throwback to the original.
- A challenging assortment of baddies.
- A wicked assortment of firearms and grenades.
- The cyborg superpowers are crazy fun.
- THE BAD
- Some of the platforming can be irritating.
Crackdown 3 brings the bang and is a welcome return to the franchise’s roots.