Crackdown 3 is the highly anticipated next iteration in a series defined by open-world urban combat where players take on the role of super agents who are tasked with clearing a metropolitan area of crime lords.
I was able to play a short demo of the game at E3 this year. Although the final game will have 4-player cooperative play and 10-player death matches, I was limited to just single player content.
The demo began by dropping me in the middle of a bustling, neon metropolis. I had roughly 15 minutes to roam freely around the map and clear out several enemy occupied zones by any means necessary.
The first Crackdown became a nostalgic totem for many primarily because of its jumping mechanics and orb-collecting. With each orb players collected, they became stronger and able to jump higher and farther than before. The demo for Crackdown 3 started with my jumping ability already significantly powered up. I was able to leap several stories into the air and grab onto window sills and ledges in order to propel myself further upward. The hero in Crackdown 3 also has a rocket pack on that allows players to boost upward or forward slightly to allow more maneuverability for the player.
I immediately tested out my jumping abilities and scaled a tall building. Crackdown 3 retains the sense of awesome power from the first game in this respect. And when I made it to the roof, I discovered a power-up orb. For players who loved exploring the world and improving their jumping skills, Crackdown 3 seems to deliver.
Despite my super heroic abilities, like bounding up and over buildings, I felt like the traversal mechanics were under-developed. I wanted a grappling gun, wall-running, or other abilities that made my interaction with the sheer faces of buildings more dynamic. At times, the game almost makes you feel like Spider-Man, except without any of the smooth web-slinging and effortless gliding through the city. These are mechanics that may be unlocked in the full game, but they were sorely missing in the E3 demo.
As I approached the first enemy occupied area, I examined my arsenal. I had a pulse rifle, a shotgun, and a rocket launcher at my disposal. Each operates as one might expect. When at a distance, the rifle helped me pick foes off one by one, and when I felt the need for mayhem, I pulled out the rocket launcher to set off a chain reaction of exploding cars that took out a group of enemies. Up close, the shotgun and hand-to-hand combat are more useful. As a super-powered agent, I felt appropriately strong as I sent enemies flying against walls with my punches and kicks.
One might expect Crackdown 3 to be a tour de force in graphics since it’s the first iteration of the series on the Xbox One and in line to receive some graphical enhancements from the Xbox One X releasing this fall. However, the graphical quality of Crackdown 3 isn’t as strong as I’d expected, despite its use of pseudo-cell shaded visuals. While the game was appropriately flashy, it still looked like a similar version of the previous Crackdown game. The visual presentation isn’t bad by any means, but it’s also not something I would expect to come out of Microsoft first-party software.
People have wanted Crackdown 3 for years. For better or worse, they will be getting what they asked for, however, I left unimpressed with my short time with the game.
Crackdown 3 comes out on Xbox One on 7 November.
John Vanderhoef appears courtesy of the lovely people at GameCritics.com – this article may also be published there, so go check the site out!