Crackdown 3 is great.
Even more than great, it’s confidently great.
As soon as you’re dropped into New Providence, developer Sumo Digital gives you the keys to the city. You’re not limited by environment or narrative and are able to explore every single square kilometre at your leisure.
Provided you have the necessary skills.
You can dive straight into the deep end but don’t be surprised if you drown in the challenge. Many areas will be far too deadly for a fresh agent and others will just be incredibly difficult to traverse with such low skill levels. However, you’re still not discouraged from going wherever you like, whenever you like.
Crackdown 3 Preview
In the 12 years since Crackdown was released for Xbox 360, gaming and in particular, open-world gaming, has changed dramatically. Player choice is now at the forefront of the design of many games and open-world, truly means open. Crackdown 3 is the purest example of real, dedicated open-world game design I’ve seen since Breath of the Wild on Switch.
Unlike many or most other open-world games, Crackdown 3 doesn’t restrict players through a linear narrative; just like Breath of the Wild. Once you’re free from the shackles of the tutorial, you can head towards the end boss and try to take him down. Alternatively, you can follow the ‘golden path’ but it flies in the face of the extreme freedom you’re being given.
Crackdown 3 wants players to see it for what it is; a digital playground. In the playground, you’re only ever limited by your own imagination and with Crackdown 3 you’re being given the same freedom. Once you learn and understand the rules of Crackdown 3, the open-world begins to feel bigger, better and more badass than ever before.
Freedom Isn’t Free
This untold freedom is juxtaposed with the almost throwback, older style of game, though benefitting from being built using today’s technology. Crackdown 3, while strictly adhering to the idea of being a Crackdown game, has adopted some modern sensibilities as a way to improve player experience.
Interestingly, Breath of the Wild took a similar approach and was heralded as an example of open-world design to be revered and used as a template. Now, Crackdown 3 is going down a similar path and certainly looks to be achieving similar success thus far.
Crackdown 3’s near non-existent loading is supremely impressive. Once you’re in New Providence, unless you die or fast travel, you will never see a loading screen. Not one.
That’s real power. It’s doubly impressive when you begin to realise the size and scale of the city and the sheer number of activities on offer.
The open-world is vast and populated with dozens of distractions. Playing Crackdown 3 almost gives your attention span whiplash as you run and jump between frenzied engagements, acrobatic races, story missions and more. There are a ludicrous number of things to do in Crackdown 3 but rather than feeling like a chore, it’s always appreciated.
The more you play, the more powerful you become and the more fun it is tearing bad guys apart. The loop in Crackdown 3 is a very cleverly designed one that both feeds into itself and constantly provides the player with a sense of accomplishment.
Crackdown 3: True to its Roots
At its core, Crackdown 3 takes its cues from the previous games. You play as an Agent tasked with removing a nefarious criminal organisation from a city. Your skills constantly level up as you defeat enemies and will be weighted more heavily to one skill or another based on how you play. You’re also able to level up your Agility by locating the Agility Orbs scattered throughout New Providence.
You’re also able to drive a multitude of vehicles and wield a ridiculous number of equally ridiculous weapons. While on the surface Crackdown 3 has the appearance of a 3rd-person shooter, it has far more in common with classic platforming and arcade games. Crackdown 3 is not a game about putting bullets on bodies. It’s a game about traversal and movement and how you can use them to your advantage.
The longer I played, the more I moved away from running, strafing, aiming and shooting and instead started to use the tools I’d been given. I was jumping and dodging in mid-air, launching myself skyward only to come crashing back down, throwing cars and trucks and never, ever stopping for a second.
Of course, Crackdown 3 is perfectly playable as a 3rd-person shooter. But that’s like playing Breath of the Wild and never riding a horse, climbing a wall or using the paraglider. It was easy to fall into a predictable rhythm when I played Crackdown 3, but once I had a taste for the systems and mechanics, I never looked back.
It’s been a LONG time coming but Crackdown 3 is finally, nearly here. After such lengthy delays, it’s reasonable to expect that it might be a bit of a mess, but from what I’ve seen, the only mess is the one you make of the fools who wanna step to you.
Crackdown 3 is coming to PC and Xbox One on February 15.
PowerUp! attended a preview event hosted by Microsoft for the purposes of writing this preview.