‘Crackdown 3’ Plays Like An Old-School Game, And That’s A-OK By Me
Today, games try to be a little of everything. Every month we have a new open-world, narrative-driven, high-production, content-packed, 100-hour magnum tour de force blockbuster release, and it’s a great time to be a gamer. Titles like Red Dead Redemption 2 and God of War blew us away with just how far the art of video games has come.
Secretly — just between us — sometimes all that content just wears me out. I’m not always looking for some big damn epic journey. Sometimes, I want something a little simpler. I want to harken back to the days where the primary features in a game were running around and shooting stuff. Crackdown 3 brings those times to mind when it was incredible if your dude could just equip some cool guns and down ground slams.
If you’re looking for innovation or insane production value, Crackdown 3 isn’t really the game for you. It’s reminiscent of late-PS2/early-PS3 third-person shooters where you just went from point A to B and shot everything in between. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. Sometimes, that can be very fulfilling, and certainly appropriate for an evening of run-and-gun excitement. In fact, you could look at Crackdown 3 as the very distillation of classic third-person design.
The plot is appropriately simple. Ten years after the events of Crackdown 2, some bad things happen, and power is shut off all over the world forcing everyone back into the Dark Ages. Luckily, the city of New Providence manages to keep the lights on, and refugees from around the world pour in. Terra Nova — no, not the Fox flop — is the corporation that controls New Providence, and on the service, they’re the salvation of humanity.
Why would you play as anyone other than Terry Crews?
Unfortunately, Terra Nova sucks, and they’re basically enslaving humanity to do their bidding. Fortunately, the Agency, an organization of super-powered clandestine operators, is up to the task of stopping them, sorta. You take the role of an Agent, one of many you can select from, and your job is to expose Terra Nova, demolish its operations, and kill pretty much everyone involved with their schemes.
Crackdown 3’s biggest gimmick is the fact that Terry Crews is cast as Commander Jaxon, one of the Agents you can play as. This is a net positive because Terry Crews is awesome (see President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho for more details), but also overshadows the rest of the cast. Each Agent has their own unique stats, but who cares because why would you play as anyone other than Terry Crews? The answer to that is that you wouldn’t. They ought to have named this game “Crewsdown 3,” in fact, because he’s the biggest draw of the game, and everyone else may as well be a faceless muppet.
None of the characters, save Terry, are all that interesting, but they serve as vehicles funnelling you to your next objective in the same way palette swapped fighters give you “variety” in fighting games. To take New Providence and destroy Terra Nova you’ve got to capture points, destroy equipment, and kill baddies. Tale as old as time, right?
There are three different divisions of Terra Nova you have to face off against, each with several lieutenants and a head officer. For example, if you capture metro stations, you’ll learn a bit more about the lieutenant in charge of it. Control enough stations, and you’ll find out their whereabouts. Once you’ve got that info, you can hunt them down and take them out.
Once you take out the lieutenants, you can fight the division head, and once you’ve beaten all three of them, you can level your sights at the CEO. Along the way, you’ll level up different aspects of your Agent. Killing enemies and completing challenges and tasks will help with this, as will hunting down orbs.
This is where the game will likely either lose you or capture your interest. Crackdown 3 features many conventions that may seem a bit archaic now. The foremost of those is having to hunt down orbs to level your character. Agility orbs, in particular, require you to run, jump and climb to hard to reach places. The more Agility orbs you get, the better you can move around and get more Agility orbs. There are about 1,000 or so of these in the game, so that’s a lot of jumping around. But there’s a lot of shiny things to collect to show for it, so…win?
If you’re looking for the next big thing, Crackdown 3 isn’t it.
The gameplay loop for Crackdown 3 is relatively short, but I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. It’s a nice break from having to keep track of 20 different things in a game. You just have to worry about jumping around, killing baddies, blowing stuff up, and having fun. Terry Crews is hilarious as always, and it kind of feels like you’re just hanging out with him in one of his movies as you play. (Psst, Terry – if you need a partner for your next comedy film, feel free to get at me.)
If you’re looking for the next big thing, Crackdown 3 isn’t it. It isn’t even anywhere on “it’s” map. But that doesn’t matter so much if all you’re looking for is a good time. It simply feels good to play, and it does what it sets out to do well. If you were a fan of games like Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy or Mercenaries during their heyday, or of the first two games in the Crackdown series, then give Crackdown 3 a shot. I don’t think you’ll regret it – unless you’re totally averse to having fun. In that case, playing a video game probably isn’t going to rectify your unique situation.