Crackdown 3: Campaign Review

Dan Webb

Nothing has changed in twelve years. Literally nothing. Like in 2007, there will be a Spider-Man film out in 2019. Like in 2007, there will be a Kanye West album out in 2019. Like 2007, Ian McEwan will release a book in 2019. Even Gianluigi Buffon is still playing in goal, for Pete’s sake. Nothing has changed. The same could be said about Crackdown in fact. In 2007 Crackdown first launched, and in 2019 the latest Crackdown title releases and you know what? Nothing has changed. But that’s not actually a terrible thing.

I say nothing has changed, and that might be an inane segue into this here review that might slightly exaggerate things, but for the most part, the Crackdown formula is fully preserved in this here sequel with very little to distinguish it from the other two games.

There is a lot to be said about preserving a formula, one that is tried and tested, the whole “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra has been one that I’ve tended to stick by my entire life. Part of Crackdown 2’s staleness as a sequel was its reliance on a city that we’d already explored, then throwing zombies (known as Freaks in the game, because why not?) in it because they were the ‘in’ thing. Thankfully Crackdown 3 has restored order: it’s a new city, New Providence, one chock-full of diversity and character – and plenty of skyscrapers – and those bloody zombie-esque Freaks have gone.

What Sumo Digital has effectively done is double-down on what makes Crackdown so great and attempt to build upon it. Crackdown has always been about mobility and the power fantasy, and the British studio has incorporated that in spades throughout Crackdown 3’s campaign. With more weapons and gadgets than ever, how you approach a situation will differ from one player to the next. One of the new additions, though, the transforming vehicles that can change from super speedy battering ram to wall-climbing spider-car and destructive tank in a matter of clicks, sound good on paper, but the truth is the on-foot mobility and traversal mechanics render the vehicles completely pointless. That, and the driving mechanics are beyond bloody awful.

Crackdown 1 and 2’s biggest issues were their formulaic and busywork mission template, Crackdown 3 tries to rectify that somewhat, to varying results. Adding more of a backstory and a significance to the bosses this time around, each boss fight results in a huge set-piece that breaks up the monotony of the general go here, kill these load of people objectives, but arguably these are too far and few between. The majority of the game is made up of monotonous, samey and repetitive tasks, a problem the franchise has had since the get-go. The whole hierarchy aspect of the bosses on the whole – and Sumo making their bosses weaker if you take them down – is pretty cool though, but the game doesn’t do enough to tackle the tedious nature of it all.

You could also argue that while the boss fights add a little bravado and some dazzling light shows, the game still arguably takes itself too seriously. I mean, you’re a superhero who can leap the height of buildings, has a blackhole gun, a tether gun, a grenade that duplicates matter, and your boss, Commander Jaxon played by Terry Crews, shouts “quack quack, motherfucker” in the opening cut-scene. Things don’t get wacky enough in Crackdown 3 beyond that, if you ask us.

From a technical perspective, while the One X excels not only with its high-fidelity visuals and rock-solid frame-rate, the vanilla Xbox One and the One S can struggle at times from a frame-rate perspective, dropping down to 25-ish at times. There are also some weird audio and menu bugs that crop up from time to time.

And if the campaign – available to play in 2-player co-op if that’s your bag – doesn’t take your fancy you can always jump into the online multiplayer world, taking advantage of Microsoft’s Azure cloud technology to offer destructible environments in a chaotic battle of mobility and firepower. In a word, it’s solid, good, wholesome fun, nothing more, nothing less. You’re not going to lose your shit over this one, it’s fun, but fun that is probably going to be short-lived. It does marry the combat and traversal skills in one handy arena, but the sense of exploration and power that Crackdown excels in doesn’t quite have the same effect when everyone is an over-powered badass as well.

Oh, and you can’t party up with Xbox Live friends at launch either, which in 2019 is utter madness. Yes, they’re patching it in, but we can only review what’s put in front of us. Honestly, not having those capabilities out-of-the-box in this day and age is utterly ridiculous. Who cares if they’re patching it in? The fact that they thought it was wise launching without a basic feature like that is mind-blowing. Mind. Blowing.

The age-old debate of what a sequel should do is still rife now as it was back in 2007. Change a game too much and you anger the fans a la Devil May Cry 2. Don’t change it enough and people say that the games are too similar and the devs have gotten lazy a la Crackdown 2. It’s a lose-lose situation and there are very few games that actual nail it second time around. Mass Effect 2 immediately springs to mind, but I think it’s fair to say people underestimate this task.

There are a lot of people who will argue that Crackdown 3 is too similar to both Crackdown and Crackdown 2, and you know what? They’re probably right, they most certainly have a point. But then there’s also an argument that if the formula isn’t broken, why should they fix it? Those people are actually right too, and while Crackdown 3 doesn’t really add anything of note to the franchise, it’s still a bloody fun game with great mechanics that will keep you busy for a good 10-hours or so. What’s not to like about that? Plus, orbs. There are loads of orbs to collect all over again! We bloody love orbs.

Crackdown 3: Campaign

The term 'more of the same' is bandied about a lot in this industry, but when it comes to Crackdown 3, it is absolutely more of the same. With a few tweaks here and there, and a new city, there’s no doubting that the gameplay still absolutely holds up. The structure and busywork tasks issues still persist from previous iterations though, which is perhaps the most disappointing aspect. Fun but repetitive best sums up Crackdown 3.

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A solid soundtrack, a bit of Terry Crews and that orgasmic orb sound, what’s not to like?


Even now, twelve years on, the comic booky, cel-shaded art-style still suits the game perfectly.


Traversal remains as bloody wonderful as ever, and the shooting is pretty solid still. Can’t fault the game mechanically.


While the structure issues of the first two games haven’t really been wholly rectified, it is better. The new city is great too, but there’s far too much busywork masquerading as main missions to make it a complete joy to play.


Decent mix of achievements encouraging players to try out various features and for a bit of exploration here, and a bit of exploration there. For a game about creative solutions, the achievements lack a little creativity themselves.

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